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How frights are giving way to fashion and fiction this Halloween

The current craze for Barbie, strongly boosted by the release of Greta Gerwig's movie in July, is now taking over Halloween. Gone are the colour black, the cobwebs, the ghosts, the witches' broomsticks and the spooky pumpkins

Published: Oct 10, 2023 05:37:53 PM IST
Updated: Oct 10, 2023 05:38:36 PM IST

How frights are giving way to fashion and fiction this HalloweenBarbie, Elon Musk and Beyoncé are among the most popular costumes for this year's Halloween festivities. Image: Geoff Caddick / AFP

Where have the witches and ghosts gone? If you're looking for a fright, you're in for a disappointing Halloween this October 31. Scary costumes are likely to be replaced by Barbie pink, Rihanna and Beyoncé stage outfits, Elon Musk likenesses and other pop culture influences. In short, nothing that's likely to give you goosebumps!

The current craze for Barbie, strongly boosted by the release of Greta Gerwig's movie in July, is now taking over Halloween. Gone is the color black, the cobwebs, the ghosts, the witches' broomsticks and the spooky pumpkins, replaced by an onslaught of pink, glamorous and sexy outfits and accessories, each more sleek, stylish and conventional than the next. It's official: the style and trends of the moment have replaced the thrills and chills that Halloween traditionally offers its most faithful followers. So much for the scariest night of the year. It remains to be seen how long trick or treating as we know it can survive amidst a sea of costumes more suited to the Coachella festival than to the traditional horror fest.

In just a few years, the world's most famous celebrities have turned Halloween into a trendy and popular holiday, where it's important to show off and be seen. Worthy of the finest red carpet events, some Halloween parties have even set the stage for a kind of contest to see who can sport the most spectacular look. And Heidi Klum, who organizes Hollywood's most coveted party, would be unlikely to disagree. In recent years, the star model has successively transformed herself into Fiona from "Shrek," a flesh-eating alien, a mummy, a zombie and a giant earthworm, slithering along the red carpet. Costumes that were as impressive as they were terrifying, but which contributed to a kind of one-upmanship, far removed from the traditional costumes for which Halloween has always been known.

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Barbie, Beyoncé, Elon Musk

Last year, certain disguises already raised questions. Hailey Bieber stepped out in a look inspired by a vintage Yves Saint Laurent haute couture dress, Cardi B dressed as Marge Simpson, Rebel Wilson blazed the trail by dressing as Barbie—in her original box too—Paris Hilton was Sailor Moon, and Kendall Jenner dressed as a "Toy Story" character. Not a spook in sight. All these costumes were certainly creative, but they didn't seem to have much to do with Halloween... And of course, it doesn't take long for red carpet trends to take to the street, with Halloween slowly but surely turning into a giant fancy dress carnival.

As a result, the most popular costumes for this year's event include a majority of outfits that are more stylish -- and on trend -- than scary. According to lingerie retailer Pour Moi, which analyzed search interest for upcoming Halloween costumes on Google, Barbie will sweep the board this year. The cowgirl costume worn by Margot Robbie in the movie is expected to be particularly popular, with a spectacular 11,900% increase in searches in one year, while the doll's famous rollerblading costume has seen a 2,500% increase, Ken's costume a 1,285% increase, and the classic Barbie costume a 403% increase. As such, pink will replace black this year, much to the dismay of anyone expecting a spooky celebration.

Pop culture and celebrities in the spotlight will also inspire costumes for this highly anticipated festival. Popular examples include the Beth Dutton character from the hit series "Yellowstone" (+700% for searches for this costume), the Ellie character from "The Last of Us" (+600%), Rip Wheeler, another character from "Yellowstone" (+400%), and Ted Lasso (+357%). There is also a craze for Beyoncé's stage costumes from her Renaissance tour (+300%), for costumes themed on Elon Musk (+267%), or "The Little Mermaid" (+125%), or even costumes representing Taylor Swift (+122%) or Rihanna during her Super Bowl performance (+100%). Hardly the stuff of nightmares.

For this report, the Pour Moi brand created a long list of iconic pop culture moments of 2023, as well as the most popular TV shows and movies of that year, then searched each of the shows/movies + "costumes" and ran them through Google Keyword Planner to get the number of annual global searches and the difference in searches year on year. All data correct for October 2023.