Dolls Are Ruling 2022

The culture of dolls, it seems, is everywhere. In February, the New York Times reported that the American Girl Cafe has become a go-to destination for the influencer set. Elsewhere, TikTok star Hal.Baddie has popularized the term "dolls" for her legion of 320.5k followers. Megan Fox recently got Bratz doll-inspired nails, a new season of Russian Doll is out this month, the New York Historical Society has a new exhibition centered around Black dolls, LoveShackFancy just collaborated with American Girl Dolls, and all over the runway, there were doll references both implied and direct, from Simone Rocha's indelible tutu dresses to Celine Homme naming its fall/winter 2022 collection "Boy Doll."

But why now? During the pandemic, at some point or other, we likely all experienced longing for something different or new—a pronounced feeling of wanderlust. Remember those subcultures that emerged, like cottagecore, dark academic, and even pop-punk, which were so prominent last summer? The cultural obsession with dolls gets at something similar.

"As we navigated through the pandemic, the sense of longing for a more carefree time was high, driving '90s and Y2K throwbacks and dressing back into the zeitgeist," says Jessica Richards, a trend forecaster. "The trend cycle has moved on, and while the focus continues on nostalgia, the shift toward an interest in doll culture is telling of our emotional state and how we want to dress in expressing it. That nostalgia for a time we had more comfort and whimsy—as well as the escapism of the world a doll subculture could provide—feels far away, but is also majorly important to so many childhoods. We just want to tap back into it."