Photo credit: ION ORCHARD

Barbie exhibition at ION Orchard showcases over 600 dolls with different body types, skin tones

House of Dreams, held at ION Art Gallery, is all about diversity and inclusivity.

Amanda Tan

Skills include buying the same jeans in different colours.

Published: 20 September 2022, 2:05 PM

A blue-eyed blondie with a slim figure and perfectly done make-up is what would probably come to mind when one hears of the iconic character Barbie.

However, since Barbie’s debut in 1959, the character has evolved to become more than just a girl, and more than just a doll for little girls.

A wheelchair-bound Barbie, a flat-chested Barbie, a transgender Barbie and a hijab-wearing Barbie are just some of the many kinds you’ll be able to find at House of Dreams

This exhibition is the largest public showing of Barbie dolls in Singapore with over 600 dolls on display at ION Art Gallery.

House of Dreams, which runs till Oct 21, was created in collaboration with local creative, author, entrepreneur and Barbie collector Jian Yang, who owns one of Asia’s largest collections of over 12,000 dolls.

Here are some of the cool dolls you can expect to see:

High School Musical Barbies

Unlike the typical Barbies which follow a 12-inch (30cm) scale, the High School Musical (HSM) Barbies were manufactured using skipper doll bodies as the characters in the show are teenagers.


In comparison to the Harry Potter dolls (left), the HSM dolls (right) are about 7cm shorter. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/AMANDA TAN


Jian Yang’s HSM Barbie collection includes main characters Troy Bolton, Gabriella Montez, Sharpay Evans, Ryan Evans, and Chad Donforth dressed in outfits from iconic scenes like the We’re All In This Together dance and the graduation ceremony.

Local Brand Barbies

Donning upcycled dresses handmade by Jian Yang, the Singapore collection includes Barbies from homegrown brands such as Love, Bonito, In Good Company, KLARRA and Bynd Artisan.


The Bynd Artisan Barbie (bottom) also has her own notebook which Jian Yang made out of the actual notebook (left). PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/AMANDA TAN


Jian Yang used leftover scraps from the brands’ poly mailers and paper bags to create various silhouettes for the dolls.

The Barbies were also handpicked by the brands, meaning the skin colour, body type and hair colour combination on the dolls were specifically chosen by the respective brands.

Jian Yang Barbies

Comically dubbed as his human vinyl avatar, Jian Yang has a series of Barbies styled just like himself to commemorate precious, notable moments in his life.

These include his time in Australia to when he started becoming more fashion-forward, and even to his recent milestone – the House of Dreams exhibit.


Jian Yang started styling the dolls as he noticed that there was a lack of male representation in the Barbie world. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/AMANDA TAN


Jian Yang’s mini-mes carry the most minute details that you can even see what brands the dolls are wearing.

When asked about his hopes for the exhibition, Jian Yang shared: “I want everyone to see that they play a part in the world. 

“Because with Barbie, you can be anything.”

House of Dreams is located at ION Art gallery, Level 4, ION Orchard, Singapore 238801 and is open from 10am to 10pm. Admission is free.

Besides the month-long exhibition, there will also be an eco-friendly, paper couture workshop by Jian Yang called Pink is the New Black for participants to learn how to design and create their own unique Barbie outfit from upcycled materials.

The sessions are on Oct 8 and Oct 15, at 2pm and 3pm respectively, at ION Art Gallery. Registration, limited to the first 20 ION+ Rewards Members per session with a minimum $100 same-day spend, can be made at the Concierge Counter on Level 4.

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