I’m pleased to again present a guest post contributed by my friend Ken Stauffer, who has written several pieces for BAMF Style previously and chronicles the style of the Ocean’s film series (and beyond!) on his excellent Instagram account, @oceansographer.
Ryan Gosling as Ken, whose job is just beach
Barbie Land, Summer 2023
Release Date: July 21, 2023
Director: Greta Gerwig
Costume Designer: Jacqueline Durran
Ryan Gosling’s Costumer: Mark Avery
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Happy birthday to Ryan Gosling, who turns 43 today! The actor/producer/director/occasional musician/former Mickey Mouse Club Member had a hell of a summer with the release of Barbie, in which he brought Ken—the world’s second most famous doll—to life.
In addition to being the highest grossing film of 2023, Barbie may also be the funniest. What had the potential to be just another blatant cash grab based on popular IP turned into a masterpiece of absurd comedy and proto-feminism thanks to the inspired direction of Greta Gerwig. By fully committing to Ken’s goofy, childlike nature, Gosling managed to steal scene after scene in a movie filled with hilarious performances.
The primary setting of the film is Barbie Land, a cheerful alternate reality populated entirely by Barbies of different professions and Kens with different hobbies (plus one Allan and one Midge). No expense was spared to create this mesmerizing world of pastels on practical sets. Costume designer Jacqueline Durran (who won an Academy Award for her last collaboration with Gerwig) got to recreate scores of life-sized doll outfits from the brand’s archives, while the production team constructed buildings and vehicles that were scaled down by 23% to mimic the size ratio of the toy line.
Of course, there’d be no movie if everyone stayed in the idyllic Barbie Land, so in the throes of an existential crisis, Margot Robbie’s Stereotypical Barbie sets out on a quest to the “Real World” of modern day Los Angeles. After hitching a ride with her, Ken becomes entranced by the hyper-masculine energy of Century City, drooling over a Rocky-themed gym, mounted police, and a brand new GMC Hummer EV. Following a visit to a local high school’s library, he makes it his mission to spread word of the patriarchy (and horses) to his fellow Kens back in Barbie Land. A few hours later, Barbie finds her reality in chaos and her once perfect Dream House corrupted into Ken’s Mojo Dojo Casa House, complete with saloon doors, a big screen TV, and a mini-fridge full of brewski beers.
What’d He Wear?
The motley outfit worn by Beach Ken during his “Kenaissance” is an entirely original creation for the film. As Gosling’s regular stylist, Mark Avery, told CNN, “to me, it was that feeling of being a kid and just getting to wear whatever you want for the first time. And maybe you choose part of your Halloween costume from that year. And then you choose part of your wardrobe that makes you feel great. It’s when you’re not restricted by the rules of society or what people expect.” The end result is a hodgepodge of eye-catching statement pieces, all of which would be the most interesting part of any other outfit on their own.
The most prominent part of Ken’s ensemble is the voluminous “Fauxjo Mojo Mink” coat. Directly inspired by images of 1980s Sylvester Stallone, the coat is made from a thick faux mink fur, primarily consisting of white and light brown fibers, mottled with black flecks. It is full length, extending to the middle of the character’s calfs, with a wide ulster collar, a long center vent, and an angled pocket on each hip. There are no buttons or zipper on the front, nor anywhere to attach a belt, so it’s meant to be worn open at all times. Ken’s newfound love of horses is reflected in the print of coat’s lining, a repeating pattern of simply drawn horse portraits in ice blue against a red backdrop.
Sitting at Ken’s waist is a black vinyl fanny pack with his name emblazoned on the front in a sharp, angular white font evoking the lightning-based logo for the band Metallica. Its strap connects to the pouch with a circular gold ring on each side, and there’s a gold rectangular pull-through buckle on the back that allows it to be cinched tight. A gold curb chain is sewn onto the right and left sides of the top of the pouch, allowing it to hang down in front. Early on, there’s also a second, larger gold ring looped onto the left of the pouch, allowing it to hold Ken’s golf club.
As de facto ruler of his new society, Ken adorns his bleached blonde head not with a crown, but a black headband with a white, pink, and purple lightning bolt print. Along with the choice to remain constantly shirtless, this item furthers Ken’s connection to the machismo of ’80s pop culture, particularly evoking the looks of Rambo and Conan the Barbarian.
Upon his perpetually bare chest, the character wears an ostentatious silver horse pendant on a robust curb chain. It depicts the portrait of a horse, facing left, framed within an upward-turned horseshoe. A total of eighteen clear stones are set into curved channels on either side of the shoe, while the center of the bail is pavé set with similar, smaller stones, all increasing the piece’s bling factor.
Ken’s pants are a pair of simple black joggers that carry over the white, pink, and purple lightning pattern from his bandana down the side of each leg. They have thinly welted vertical pockets on each side, placed forward of the side seams, and banded cuffs at the ankle, which he tucks into his tall sneakers.
These joggers are actually part of a matching tracksuit with the jacket seen briefly during the bonfire jam session. The jacket features a wide shirt collar (always worn flipped up), a center zipper, banded cuffs, more lightning bolts down the length of the arms, and a symmetrical pair of horses (one on each side of the chest) rearing up while framed in lightning. There also appears to be a large graphic on the back of Ken’s track jacket, and while it’s not fully visible to us, it’s a safe bet that it’s also horse and lightning themed.
At first blush, Ken’s footwear look like a ridiculously oversized pair of custom white sneakers, but upon closer inspection, they are actually a pair of boxing shoes from Adidas. This exact model is known as the “Box Hog 3”, and Ken’s pair are in the “Sky Rush” colorway. They’re made of a white mesh, with three black Adidas stripes down the sides, and a white faux suede toe cap. They feature aqua accents throughout, including on the shoe’s thin EVA rubber soles, the piping that frames the top and tongue, the inside of the tongue, and the back pull tab.
These ultra-high tops were made to be fully laced up and tied tightly to support one during the punishing sport of boxing, but the foppish Ken wears them untied and laced only about ¾ of the way up.
Having once been asked for the time in the “Real World,” Ken overcompensates by loading his wrists up with a trio of eye-catching watches. As Gosling told GQ, “generally the watch is a symbol that you’re busy and you have important things to do and cool places to be. When you’re a Ken, you have none of those things. So it’s even more important for you to appear that you do. I’m sure you’re all aware of the Coco Chanel rule: before you leave the house, you take one thing off. The Ken Rule is you put three things on.”
As Mr. Gosling is a brand ambassador for Tag Heuer, it was only natural that his character would don their watches. Rather than sport any of the company’s current offerings though, Ken selects several beautiful yellow gold Carrera chronographs from Tag’s archives.
- The first, worn on his left just in front of a pink terry cloth sports wristband, is reference number 110.515 from 1974, with a barrel-shaped case, an intricately engraved gold Côte de Genève dial, 2 black subdials, a white date window at 6 o’clock, and an oyster style bracelet.
- On his right wrist is a reference 1158 CHN from 1971, with a similar dial layout, on a solid 18-karat gold milanese mesh bracelet.
- The classic black dialed tri-compax reference 2448 NT from 1968 sits further back on his right forearm, strapped on top of a Ken’s other pink wristband by a black leather strap with gold pin buckle.
Though we never actually see him behind the wheel, Ken protects his hands throughout the latter half of the film with a pair of fingerless black leather driving gloves. There are no cutouts on the back as one might expect, but rather three points (lines of decorative stitching). At the wrist, there is a short strap connected to a brass snap button, and there are two options to mate it to, allowing for an adjustable fit.
As perpetually sunny as it is in Barbie Land, Ken only wears his sunglasses to protect his ego. In the same GQ piece cited above, Gosling explained, “Ken’s gotta have at least two pairs at all times. The first pair should be something Barbie would wear. She needs them for whatever reason, and you should have them ready. Dark ones are great; they can conceal your sadness.” The character choice here are a feminine cat’s-eye model from Saint Laurent, reference 466 001, in glossy black with black lenses. He slips the first pair on as he struggles to reject Barbie’s pleas, and adds a second identical pair to further hide his internal conflict before walking away.
Arriving to the “Malibu” beach to fight the rival faction of Kens, the character dramatically whips off his coat to reveal a fringed black leather vest. It’s cut with a high V-shaped opening, much like the kind you’d find in a three piece suit, but decidedly more Western-themed. It has structured, whip-stitched epaulets from which the fringe extends down about 12 inches in every direction. The vest closes with six brass snap buttons, with a matching button present on the outer corner of each epaulet. There are straight-cut patch pockets present on either side, adhering to the borders of the front darts, side seams, and bottom edge.
In the midst of the battle, the combined shirtless energy of Ken and his rival Ken (Simu Liu) transport the fighters to an even more fantastical environment, an empty pink and blue space that recalls the Dream Ballet of Singing In the Rain.
Here, all the Kens wear simple matching outfits consisting of a short-sleeved black pocket T-shirt, fitted black chinos, a very thin black leather belt with a small curved buckle, a pair of black calf leather penny loafers, and very pink socks for a pop of color. Beach Ken differentiates himself by affixing his belt on the side, with its buckle positioned on the front of his right hip.
After coming to terms with his identity, Ken finally decides to put a shirt on, tossing his coat to his best friend, Basketball Ken (Kingsley Ben-Adir). He then wears a sherpa fleece hooded sweatshirt with a kangaroo pocket, tie-dyed in vibrant shades of pink, yellow, electric blue, and green. Embroidered onto the chest is the self-affirming slogan “I am Kenough,” with the “K” stylized to reflect the font used on Mattel’s packaging.
How to Get the Look
The odd collection of items Ken chooses to assert his power ultimately comes together to make an outfit greater than the sum of its parts. It’s a completely unique and unforgettable costume, poking fun at the items we’ve used to signify masculinity in American pop culture over the years. In a word, Ken’s look is simply “sublime!”
- Mottled cream faux mink fur coat with wide ulster collar, long center vent, slash side pockets, and red horse portrait print lining
- Black headband with white, pink, and purple lightning bolt print
- Silver, studded pendant depicting a horse’s portrait inside a horseshoe on a silver curb chain
- No shirt (99% of the time)
- Black joggers with banded cuffs, vertical off-seam besom side pockets, and white, pink, and purple lightning bolt print down the side of the legs (part of a horse and lightning themed track suit)
- Black vinyl fanny pack with white applied “Ken” logo and gold curb chain attached on top
- Adidas Box Hog 3 mesh boxing sneakers in Sky Rush colorway (white with aqua accents), untied
- Three vintage, yellow gold Tag Heuer Carrera chronograph watches (references 515, 1158 CHN, and 2448 NT)
- Pink terry cloth sports wristbands
- Black leather fingerless driving gloves with adjustable brass snap closure
- Saint Laurent 466 001 sunglasses in glossy black with black lenses (x2)
- Black leather vest with six brass snap-button front, lower patch pockets, structured epaulets, and 12” fringe descending from the shoulder seam
- Rainbow tie-dye Sherpa hoodie with kangaroo pocket and “I am Kenough” embroidered on the chest
Dream Ballet Sequence
- Black short-sleeved pocket T-shirt
- Slim cut black chinos with slanted side pockets and button through back pockets
- Thin black leather belt with curved silver buckle
- Black calf leather penny loafers
- Pink socks
If you’re a fan of the look but don’t feel like you have the Kenergy to pull it off, you can also pre-order Mattel’s official collectible doll featuring Ken dressed in the wardrobe from this scene:
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Learn to play “Push” by Matchbox Twenty at people on the guitar and check out the movie.
To be honest, when I found out the patriarchy wasn’t about horses, I lost interest anyway.