Dead Dolls

‘…the greatest beauty was seen to arise at the cusp of a society’s destruction[1]

I feel dolls say a lot about beauty in the modern age; each doll goes through rigorous design testing in reach of finding the essence of the perfect look.  

Dolls are essentially inanimate, yet clothing is transportive; they gain movement and meaning through the clothes they wear.


This Vampire Barbie is part of the ‘Haunted Beauty’ Halloween collection, her cape is actually inspired by a 2008 Alexander McQueen coat which was created with the past Queens of England in mind.

McQueen Red Cloak

Another obvious shape inspiration is Lucy from Coppola’s  Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) and her similarly lizard-like collared wedding dress.  These references tie this Barbie’s style to both the past and the vampire, and she is very much fashioned out of our time, and the era of Barbie herself.


Vampire Barbie’s sources of inspiration are very strikingly styled to express a ‘Gothic’ mode, one that is predicated on allusion, feeling and senses; McQueen’s dead Queens emotively impact the catwalks as spectral reimagining of elusive women no living man today could ever accurately conjure.  Similarly, Lucy Westenra has been so diluted as a pop cultural reference in her own right, that it seems only fitting that a glimmer of her essence is reborn in Barbie.

Barbie itself has long been critiqued for depicting only the shallowest flickers of what contemporary girls, and women, represent.  It was only recently that Mattel launched a doll with more realistic proportions.  The body of Barbie continues to be picked apart, socially dissected, and refashioned; the irony of the ‘infallible vampire’ reborn upon a doll that has so long been impervious to change, or decay.

Despite this being a new direction for Mattel- and Barbie, the monsters of contemporary Gothic remain a patchwork of bodies, each incarnation possessing something of their ancestors.

However, making monsters is not new and certainly not a dying art.

“…I beheld the wretch-the miserable monster whom I had created” 

                                                                            -Victor Frankenstein


[1] Dennis Denisoff, ‘Decadence and Aestheticism’ p. 33 in. G. Marshall, ed, The Cambridge Companion to the Fin de Siècle, pp. 31- 53, Cambridge University Press, 2007.


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