Barbie is answering your call through her 2 biggest fans. Not only do Mario Paglino and Gianni Grossi worship the famous doll but also have they made their very own versions of it.
Who said that boys do not play with dolls? Especially when playing refers to actually imagine and compose Barbies. A huge talent and an even bigger common passion is driving this friendly collaboration since its early days back in 1999. The Barbie story really started in 2006 when Mattel commissioned the duo to design a limited doll collection, Barbie Film Noir. Creativity, beauty, femininity, glamour, Barbie is all of that which explains why Magia 2000 is a magic duo.
1/ Did you two meet because of Barbie or did Barbie come out of your
Mario Paglino & Gianni Grossi: Barbie was a friend as a child for both of us. Our passion became fashion after talking about Barbie together. The collaboration really came up by chance. Indeed it all started on a sunny day in the seaside, we bought a promo Barbie doll offered with a magazine. Over the years we have learned a lot by studying fashion techniques and our collector start led to a creative process where we design one of a kind dolls like the Madonna ones. Why Madonna? We are fans of Madonna and wanted to have a replica of our favourite costumes. Actually Madonna has inspired the whole venture. We started from little toy markets in Italy, showing our very simple first pieces. In 2002 we went to the USA to attend our first Barbie convention, no Italian had been there before us so we brought the Italian attention to details and quality.
Our success was not long to come and we got commissioned by an Italian company to design a Brigitte Bardot doll. Then, in 2006 again at the US Barbie Annual Convention we got introduced to the Barbie manufacturer Mattel and were fortunate to be selected to collaborate with the historical company on a limited edition Barbie series, Barbie Film Noir. Our relationship with Mattel has grown ever since as we have taken part in various projects with Mattel since 2006 in the like of The Barbie Black issue produced for Vogue Italy in 2009. Madonna by Mario Paglino and Gianni Grossi - Magia2000
2/ What does Barbie symbolize to you?
Mario Paglino & Gianni Grossi: She is some kind of a
model for us as she is our canvas to translate our fashion inspirations and
create miniaturized Couture.
She is not a perfect lady, and is ready to change clothes thousand of times, but remain stylish. She never complains when we treat her badly… Boiling her head to shape her hair or sewing on her skin pieces of fabrics, whatever, she keeps on smiling.
Seriously we love the way Barbie has changed in the past five decades and this evolution exemplifies to kids what fashion is. For a kid she symbolises freedom of expression, she is a media to express creativity, power and imagination.
3/ Do you think that people in their thirties and forties are Barbie nostalgic?
Mario Paglino & Gianni Grossi: Usually I can tell a
person’s age when discussing Barbie.
Depending on which Barbie you played with and how, it’s quite easy to get an idea of how old you are. It’s funny how people, from old to young, have a different expression and open up when talking about Barbie memories.McQueen mania by Mario Paglino and Gianni Grossi - Magia2000
4/ What is equivalent to Barbie today?
Mario Paglino & Gianni Grossi: I think there is no substitute to Barbie, even if there are tons of dolls on the market, so more opportunities to diversify styles and plays. But Barbie is probably the only one who makes us all dream. We do design for other dolls but none of them are as versatile and appealing as Barbie. Barbie can take on many different roles and slip into casual daywear to elegant attire and be edgy as much as classic. McQueen mania by Mario Paglino and Gianni Grossi - Magia2000
5/ Do you think that a doll has a soul?
Mario Paglino & Gianni Grossi: Personally we don’t like
the idea of taking a doll up to that spiritual level even if we believe that
they all have different personalities. Designing clothes for these dolls is like
designing bespoke pieces for clients. Everybody including Barbie has a unique
way to wear our creations and the potential to maximize the beauty in them.
6/ To what extend do you think that miniaturized dolls represent our society?
Mario Paglino & Gianni Grossi: We think that they express the best of our society. Of course it’s very easy to recall Barbie and dolls as prototypes of our society, but at the very end it’s just a girl who want to have fun. There is even a Cindy Lauper Barbie by Mattel!
7/ Are the mini women glamorous?
Mario Paglino & Gianni Grossi: Dolls are always as their owners, so some are extremely well and glamorously dressed and some are a little edgy. But Playing with dolls is absolutely IN & TOP!
8/ Do you “study” a lot before designing the mini version of a today’s icon?
Mario Paglino & Gianni Grossi: Creating some replica
dolls of Madonna is probably the hardest thing to do. We love creating details
and to be extremely close to the original. Of course there is no official
Madonna doll, so the doll’s face look like the pop icon but is not the exact
copy of it. Needless to say that Madonna has changed a lot over the years, she
is a real master in reinventing herself. Before designing clothes for a mini
star we usually do research on materials, find photos that give us the look and
feel of the celebrity we are working on.
Celebrities have each one of them their personal style so we focus on keeping the general silhouette and on conveying the glamour. Sometimes we need to redefine completely the hair to match the celebrity’s hairstyle. It can take months to finish a doll as it can prove to be difficult to find specific material in “mini”. We source fabrics and materials while travelling. These celebrities dolls are not the ones commissioned by Mattel, they are our own and illustrate our vision. We gave in the past some of our celebrity dolls to the related icons, Victoria Beckham, Lady Gaga, Laura Pausini, Michelle Hunziker to name a few. In Italy, Simona Ventura was the first one to like our creations and she also ordered some of them as gifts for friends. We did sent to Madonna one of “her “ dolls but we are still looking forward to meeting her in person one day.
9/ Is a Barbie an icon in itself or is it a copy of an icon?
Mario Paglino & Gianni Grossi: To us Barbie is an icon. Talking with collectors, made us realised how Barbie can enchant and help dads to play with their children.
10/ What is your favourite Barbie?
Mario Paglino & Gianni Grossi: Of course, it’s the doll we designed for the Los Angeles Convention, “Barbie Film Noir”, but we could also mention all the Bob Mackie’s Barbie, as well as Bob Mackie’s Barbie, where famous fashion designers created beautiful examples of their style.
11/ How many have you created so far?
Mario Paglino & Gianni Grossi: We truly can’t count how many dolls, but most of them belong to private collections or were donated to different charity auctions.Madonna by Mario Paglino and Gianni Grossi - Magia2000
12/ Which one will you be designing tomorrow?
Mario Paglino & Gianni Grossi: We are working on many new projects, and on different dolls, 11 “ or 16” size dolls, and of course we are working on new creations, especially for the upcoming Italian Doll Convention in Milan that we will be directing. During this convention we want to bring back the excitement we feel abroad.13/ Is Barbie meant to be with Ken?
Mario Paglino & Gianni Grossi: For sure! Like milk and
coffee, like Mario and Gianni, like
1/ Doll plays or play with the dolls?
Mario Paglino & Gianni Grossi: Play with dolls like a trendsetter.
2/ Ready-to-play or play Couture?
Mario Paglino & Gianni Grossi: Play with couture in a ready–to-wear mode.
3/ Dress up or dress down?
Mario Paglino & Gianni Grossi: Dress whatever you like, but play with it.
4/ To collect or to accumulate?
Mario Paglino & Gianni Grossi: Choose what you really cherish as a collector.
5/ A Barbie girl in a Barbie world?
Mario Paglino & Gianni Grossi: A world full of girls and boys playing with dolls.
To know more about the founders of Magia2000, Mario Paglino and Gianni Rossi, visit: www.magia2000.com
Interview by Delphine Hervieu.