Filipinos are known to be the most enthusiastic, passionate, competitive, and most especially, proud. We take pride in everything that will put our country and our identity as a nation in good light. For every Pinoy achievements, we definitely raise the bar and the standards. We rejoice, we celebrate, and most importantly,we win. That is why when a talented Filipino designer made a big splash into the world of Barbie, the local doll community went wild. Once again, we took pride. We are no longer part of a minority, Because for every fabulous ensemble this designer has to offer, we also make noise and celebrate as a relevant doll community. Barbie Collective Manila brings you an exclusive interview with the one and only Carlyle Nuera.
BCM: Hi Carlyle! How and when did you start designing for Barbie & Mattel?
CN: A few months after I graduated from art school, a position on the Barbie design team opened up. My friends told me that I must apply for this job, and if I didn’t, they’d apply for me! After months of interviews and a couple of design projects, I got the job!
BCM: Do you have a specific design aesthetic or trademark?
CN: I love mixing face sculpts and skin tones that have never been done before, as well as bringing back rare face sculpts like the Kira sculpt. I also love playing with fringe and sheer fabrics like chiffon and organza, and how they look layered.
BCM: How do you start creating a design? Can you tell us more about the creative process?
CN: I always have my senses open and am always mentally collecting inspiration, so when a project comes my way, I usually already have ideas stored up. I’ll do research and collect images, pulling from online resources, shopping at stores, going to art exhibits, etc. Then I do pages and pages of rough sketches, refining my idea until I have my final design. Then I’ll do a final illustration.
BCM: What makes you inspired and motivated?
CN: Being part of the Barbie brand, which is so iconic and evolving, is very inspiring! It motivates me to design at my best and most innovative every day.
BCM: Do you have an estimate of how many barbie clothes have you designed and created?
CN: It’s been nearly five years designing for Barbie, I’ve lost count!
BCM: How did you come up with the Mutya design?
CN: I wanted to honor the traditional terno, with its signature butterfly sleeves, as well as live up to the detailed, glamorous precedent set in the Global Glamour collection. I tried to be thoughtful in every detail included on Mutya Barbie; the printed artwork on the organza refers back to textiles of the different tribes in the Philippines and the embroidery at the hem is of the Philippine national flower, the sampaguita. Looking back, I was also subconsciously inspired by vintage photos of my Mom as Miss Tacloban in 1976, being interviewed on stage in a terno. For Mutya Barbie’s face, I knew that the Kira sculpt is beloved by Barbie Collectors and hasn’t been used since around 2001, so I wanted to bring that face sculpt back.
BCM: Do you collect dolls too?
CN: Yes, I still collect dolls. Lately, I’ve been looking for Barbies from all the high-fashion collaborations from the 90s. I recently added Escada Barbie from 1996 and Vera Wang Barbie from 1998 to my collection.
BCM: What is your favorite Barbie doll?
CN: My favorite Barbie doll is ‘Urban Hipster’ Nichelle from the Model of the Moment collection. I love everything about her!
BCM: Do you aspire to design and make clothes for real women too?
CN: I designed and made clothes in human-size during college and I loved it. But for now, Barbie is my main muse.
BCM: What makes it so special designing and creating clothes for Barbie?
CN: I love being able to capture what’s happening in culture in a Barbie doll’s design. And I love the idea of meeting a person in the future whose first or most favorite Barbie doll was one that I designed. It hasn’t happened yet, but I hope it will!
BCM: Are we gonna see a new Carlyle Nuera design in any upcoming collector dolls anytime soon?
CN: Yes, I have a new Barbie Collector doll coming out later this year. She’ll be the first doll in a brand new series/collection. My first collection, from concept boards all the way to finished doll in package. I can’t wait for her to be released!
BCM: And lastly,any word of advice for all your Pinoy fans?
CN: Keep collecting what you truly love! Let your local retailers know what you want to buy so that they stock it in their stores. And of course, thank you for all of your support. I am so honored to be at the intersection of Filipino, designer and Barbie lover.