2012 May 11
Elle's Joe Zee on Barbie, Ken, and The Gaga
Diane Bondareff for Barbie View Gallery
(NEW YORK) FIT transformed the lobby of Building D into a pink party den yesterday eve for the "Play with Fashion" student design contest. The task? To reimagine Barbie and Ken's So-Cal wardrobe and revamp Barbie's glittery dream pad. (No small feat.) Students, Mattel execs, and proud parents packed into the 27th Street entrance, along with a passerby or two intrigued by a life-size Ken doll in a monochromatic eighties skater ensemble made entirely from VHS tapes or a jumbo Barbie outfitted in a grand ball gown crafted from pink and white shopping bags. Elle creative director, and Barbie guest judge, Joe Zee made it just in time (he had to take the subway!) to peruse the exhibit, present the award for best photography, and join in on a Barbie play date with your Daily. BY MARIA DENARDO
You and Barbie have quite a history, Joe Zee!
We've worked together on a number of projects. When Barbie had her big anniversary, I went to Mattel and designed some of my own Barbie dolls, which I wrote about in my column "A to Zee" in Elle. Recently, I went back to Mattel when they were relaunching their virtual closet for Fashion Week. I love Barbie. I played with her as a kid!
What did you learn about Barbie when you were visiting her birthplace at Mattel?
You can design any style or hair color you want, and it will happen in minutes. And the shoes are a bitch! If you lose them, you'll never find them again. What did you learn? [Joe Zee to his beau, designer and Parsons professor Rob Younkers.]
RY: It's the craziest thing you've ever seen. The factory is made up of people who put Barbie together, piece by piece. It's truly handcrafted. We keep the Barbies in the house. [Joe Zee: You should have seen the one he created. It was so cute!] Oh, stop...
Do you identify more with Barbie or Ken?
Barbie because she was the better one to dress. Women's clothes are so much more fun to play with!
Barbie is running for president in the pink party. Who should be her running mate?
[laughs] Ken, of course.
Do you think Ken is hot?
I think I did when I was a kid.
Why can't Ken and Barbie work it out?
That's just the rule of a sitcom. They never get together, but they almost get together.
What's Barbie's real name?
She has a full name? Um...I can't even guess. Tell me!
Barbara Millicent Roberts.
I didn't even know she was a Barbara! Oh my god. I'm definitely not schooled well in Barbie.
Barbie used to have a panda, a pink convertible, and a jet license. Which one would you prefer?
A panda, hello! The convertible I can rent and the jet I can get on, but the panda is too cute.
SNL once spoofed Barbie by creating Gangsta Bitch Barbie and Tupac Ken. What Barbie do you think is missing from the toy store shelves?
I'm waiting for Gaga Barbie. Bring it on. I want a full filet mignon on this Barbie!
"Play with Fashion" student winners included: Veronica Zhou for jewelry design, Maor Tapiro for fashion design, Jessica Mazur for interior design, Loreal Prystaj for photography, and Elyse Falato for visual presentation and exhibition design.
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