In the summer of 2023, the world of women’s beauty was captivated by the unique work of renowned hair and makeup artist Ivana Primorac. She was tasked with the seemingly impossible: bringing the iconic Barbie doll to life for the silver screen. The result was a stunning visual experience that showcased Primorac’s exceptional talent and creativity.
The project was part of director Greta Gerwig’s groundbreaking film, Barbie, which aimed to transform the world’s most famous doll into a human character. This presented a unique challenge for Primorac, who has an impressive portfolio of projects including The Darkest Hour, Mare of Easttown, and The Crown.
Primorac’s task was to create a human version of Barbie that maintained the doll’s iconic features while adding a touch of realism. This involved extensive work with wigs, custom eyebrows, body paint, and a myriad of lipsticks. The process was not without its challenges, as Primorac had to balance the perfect proportions of Barbie’s world with the need for individuality among the different characters.
The process began a year before filming, with Primorac working closely with Gerwig, production designer Sarah Greenwood, and costume designer Jacqueline Durran. They had access to Mattel’s entire Barbie archive and Primorac also sourced vintage Barbie books for inspiration.
One key aspect of Primorac’s work was her collaboration with cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto. Their teamwork was instrumental in ensuring that the vibrant colours of Barbie Land did not overwhelm the actors or their costumes. Once Prieto had chosen the lenses and filters, Primorac could establish the hair and makeup techniques for each character.
Margot Robbie, who played “Stereotypical Barbie”, sported a look reminiscent of the original 1959 Barbie doll, complete with blonde hair, blue eyeshadow, and red lipstick. Primorac recreated this iconic look using standard yellow hair dye straight from the box. As the story progressed into Barbie Land, Robbie’s hair was altered to match Ken (played by Ryan Gosling), resulting in a harmonious visual pairing.
Primorac also had to adapt Robbie’s hair to suit her various costumes, which ranged from a pink gingham dress to a dazzling gold disco jumpsuit. This involved adjusting the tone of Robbie’s wigs overnight to match the lighting setups and outfits for the next day’s shooting.
In addition to Robbie and Gosling, the film featured seventeen other main characters, all portrayed as individual Barbie and Ken dolls. Each character required unique styling to represent their personality while maintaining the overall aesthetic of the Barbie world. This required skillful use of body makeup to even out skin tones without creating a plastic-like appearance.
Among these characters were several discontinued dolls, including Midge “Pregnant Barbie” (Emerald Fennell), Mermaid Barbie (Dua Lipa), Merman Ken (John Cena), and Sugar Daddy Ken (Rob Brydon). These characters were styled to closely resemble their original doll counterparts.
One standout character was “Weird Barbie”, played by Kate McKinnon. This doll had been played with excessively and bore signs of wear and tear. Primorac found this character particularly challenging as she strived to avoid creating a look that was too punk or fashionable.
Primorac’s work on Barbie is a testament to her creativity and skill in the realm of women’s beauty. Her ability to transform human actors into realistic representations of iconic dolls while maintaining individuality is truly remarkable. Whether you’re interested in eyelash extensions or eyebrow threading in Scottsdale Arizona Lashes or simply love makeup, Ivana Primorac’s work is sure to inspire and fascinate you.