This story is part of Ensemble's doll week
"My inner child is so happy right now," says Crystal Chen, snapping the last Polaroid at her shared photography studio-turned-dollhouse on Karangahape Road.
Actor and model Roxie Mohebbi played doll for a day, transforming into five personas styled by Courtney Joe - with a dreamy pink wardrobe featuring everything from fuchsia houndstooth to vintage pastel Laura Ashley florals. It’s a hint of the pink wash to come for the new season, as local designers embrace the contrary nature of the shade.
The whirlwind day naturally led to discussions about dolls: who had them (everyone), who obsessively dressed them up (Courtney), who had the most intense attachment style (Roxie).
"I was a young punk it seems and steered away from dolls in the traditional sense but the love of my life was Goojee, my little blue haired troll doll," Roxie says. "I took Goojee everywhere and also saw Goojee as my own little witchy protector who could cast spells on people who did wrong by 7 year old me. Did this lead into an incredibly unhealthy addiction in collecting troll dolls in my adult life ? Yes. Do I have 100+ troll dolls in a suitcase still at my ex’s house meaning to be picked up? Yes."
For hair stylist Kelly Manu, "As the youngest child I only had one doll and she got thrashed! Her hair got cut and coloured (funny that) she went swimming in the lagoon, she even got made into a cake.
"For this shoot I started with a classic baby-doll blowout that I knew Roxie wanted, and worked backwards. I had an album of 20 looks on my phone to pull inspiration from."
Photographer Crystal worked with medium format film to capture all the details. "As much as I love the perfect, plastic, hot pink look, I also love the 'dolled up', exaggerated energy of the 1960s, all those frills, silks, and velvet," says Chen. "In terms of photography, I love the soft look that film carries where the grain is much finer and has warmth.
"I also love the approach that you can be anything you want. This is so empowering growing up as a little Chinese girl wanting to be all these things, I remember dressing up my dolls and giving them different occupations. Now, that's a little bit of me."
Presidential in pink
Roxie wears a Twenty-seven Names jacket, $920, and skirt, $450 (launching September). Belinda Green hat, POA. Mi Piaci heels, $300. Baobei socks, $35. Adrienne Winkelmann gloves, $399. Ahlem sunglasses, $780. Ming Ranginui, Āmene, 2022 (From Angel Numbers on the Dash). Satin, wadding, rhinestones, 500 x 500 x 150mm. Courtesy of the artist and Season gallery.
Work it out
Roxie wears a Loclaire singlet, $189 (launching August). Gil Rodriguez shorts, $120, from Black Box Boutique. Baobei x Buttermilk Accessories headband, $32. New Balance shoes, $250. Socks and ring, stylist’s own.
What, like it's hard?
Belle of the ball
OMW to the after-party
Vintage florals for spring
Roxie wears a one-off vintage Laura Ashley dress and jacket, from the Central Flea Market. Past season Kate Sylvester necklace. Swarovski earrings, $330. Kathryn Wilson heels, $329 (launching mid-August).
Photography: Crystal Chen
Talent: Roxie Mohebbi at N Management
Styling: Courtney Joe
Hair: Kelly Manu
Makeup: Lara Daly
Lighting: Diya Joukani
This story was published during the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes of 2023. Barbie and other films would not exist without the labour of writers and actors.