There’s a reason that thousands of people have wanted to disappear into Barbie’s world over the past 64 years. Her glamorous, playful aesthetic can make even a tiny plastic clinic seem eminently desirable. As such, it’s always a treat to meet a non-Barbie (a human, in other words) who is just as committed to the colour pink and all its pleasures. Enter Darian Darling, a Los Angeles–based makeup artist who has transformed not one but two homes into facsimiles of Barbie’s Dreamhouse. This makes sense for Darling, with her platinum waves and penchant for vibrantly coloured tracksuits. She seems like a person who has escaped from Barbie World and found her way into Hollywood—only she’s very real and not being directed by Greta Gerwig.
Darling’s fascination with the toy began when she got her first Barbie on Christmas Day in 1985, when she was five. “It was the Day to Night Barbie, which is one of the most iconic Barbies of the mid-’80s, where she was a really chic executive, but then her outfit was reversible and could transform into a cocktail dress,” Darling says over Zoom from Los Angeles. “Growing up as a trans kid, Barbie represented this really heightened, idealized version of femininity. It’s unapologetic, no-holds-barred, inspirational, aspirational glamour. And as a kid seeing that, it’s so exciting.”