Printer Friendly

HEY THERE, BARBIE GIRL ...; AMERICA'S FAVORITE DOLL CELEBRATES HER 40TH BIRTHDAY IN STYLE.

Byline: Stories by Carla Sanders

For 40 years, Barbie not only has been an object of unbridled affection - and some scorn - but a style icon as well.

While other, larger dolls were lolling around in fluffy cotton rompers, Barbie was slightly risque, posing in a black-and-white-striped swimsuit.

Other dolls had round angelic baby faces and soft bodies. Barbie was all hard plastic and angles, with flashes of red-painted lips, heavy black eyeliner and a pointy little nose.

The girl many people silently voted the least likely to succeed back in 1959 has succeeded beyond everyone's wildest dreams. Every second, two Barbie dolls - which now come in 45 nationalities - are sold somewhere in the world. To date, more than a billion have been sold in 150 countries.

She is known globally for her wardrobe yet has never set style herself. A follower who's become the leader. The ultimate ``it'' girl.

As she gets ready to celebrate her birthday - the official DOB is March 9, 1959 - her style continues to enrapture young girls and collectors alike. She's been an astronaut and a Navy SEAL, a business executive and a NASCAR racer, a daredevil stuntwoman and a rap star.

Through all the ``careers'' and transitions, though, it's Barbie's style that has been coveted the most.

Barbie was envisioned at the start by Mattel co-founder and Barbie creator Ruth Handler as sort of a three-dimensional paper doll, one that could be dressed and redressed by her owner from a wardrobe of beautiful pieces.

But almost immediately, Barbie went beyond that. Instead of just coming up with new clothes for Barbie, Mattel started its long tradition of offering new Barbie styles.

Thus, when youthful first lady Jacqueline Kennedy moved into the White House in 1961 with her spectacular array of shift dresses, matching coats and pillbox hats, Barbie emulated the female style-setter of the day. Her Red Flair outfit was modeled after the first lady's Inauguration Day ensemble, complete with bubble hairdo in brown.

There have been so many different Barbie dolls and styles that even the folks at Mattel are hard-pressed to give a definite number. This year alone, to commemorate Barbie's milestone birthday, 80 new dolls are being introduced.

It's been the little things that have made Barbie's attire a standout through the years. Early on there were slip-on heels in black, red or yellow to encase her permanently arched, miniature feet; clutch purses in gold, white and black; sunglasses with blue lenses and floral details; a tennis racket to hold while wearing the white one-piece tennis romper.

As Barbie has become more adventurous - straying from her life as a teen-age fashion model and embarking on new careers - her clothing and accessories have gotten more elaborate.

She wore a tutu and ballet shoes as a ballerina in 1961; poles and skis were part of her Olympic downhill skier persona in 1975. She toted a briefcase as a buttoned-down business executive in 1985; her doctor's coat in 1988 was accessorized with a clipboard and a stethoscope.

Rock star Barbie in 1990 featured a small-scale guitar. In '93, police officer Barbie came dressed in a uniform and hat. The lifeguard look of '95 offered a visor, sunglasses, binoculars, jacket and flotation bobber.

Barbie's hair consistently has been a mane attraction. It glistens, it glows, it's a whole lotta blond. It's become so identified with her that even in popular culture, a pretty woman with a mass of blond hair is often referred to as a ``Barbie doll.''

With the notable exception of the astronaut uniform in 1964, in which the headgear completely covered her head, nearly every other ensemble has showcased Barbie's hair. Even such unlikely candidates as the Army officer's garb (1989), with its jaunty, snug little hat, and the NASCAR driver's suit (1998), with its traditional cap, were designed so as not to interfere with the beauty - and playability - of her hair.

In fact, the best-selling Barbie doll ever was Totally Hair Barbie, with strands that extended to her toes.

Barbie has not only reflected style of the day but has recalled past and fantasy glamour, too, especially in collectibles.

Autumn in Paris Barbie features a velvety beret, burgundy plaid jacket, coppery shawl and walking stick. Dance 'Til Dawn Barbie presents the 1920s flapper era with purple dress and lilac feather boa; Barbie as Snow White is just that - and Barbie's long, wavy tresses are jet black.

Some of the collectibles are so pricey, though, that they are definitely not for child's play.

Among the more stunning creations are the Fantasy Goddess of Asia Barbie ($240), with fan back and green and gold gown, designed by Bob Mackie; Porcelain Holiday Gift Barbie ($200) in a stunning red and gold gown with beads and sequins; and Vera Wang Barbie ($150) in a wedding gown look with black velvety piping around the bodice and bottom.

Possibly the most exquisite is the Faberge Imperial Elegance Barbie ($400), wearing a gown of blue satin, with a golden lame underskirt. Both are embroidered with more than 50,000 stitches and accented with more than 175 Swarovski crystals. A tiara covered in 22-karat gold crowns her head.

Still, despite these elaborate costumes, it is the basic Barbie, the $24.99 version, that is most often asked for. It is this doll, now as 40 years ago, that lets young imaginations create a style all their own.

What's your Barbie IQ?

Test your historical knowledge of the world's most famous doll:

1. '60s: What was the name of Barbie's mod cousin?

2. '60s: Who inspired the doll's shoulder-length flip hairstyle?

3. '60s: The first Barbie stewardess wore what airline's uniform?

4. '70s: What was the name of her first horse?

5. '70s: What series of Barbie dolls featuring California tans and long, straight hair was introduced in 1971?

6. '80s: Who was the first fashion designer to have a signature on Barbie's wardrobe?

7. '80s: What was the name of the first Latino Barbie doll introduced?

8. '80s: Barbie had her own float in what famous parade in 1986?

9. '90s: What was the name of the doll's rap music group introduced in 1990?

10. '90s: In 1991, Barbie appeared in what medium for the first time?

Answers to quiz

1. Francie

2. Marlo Thomas from TV's ``That Girl''

3. American Airlines

4. Dancer

5. Malibu Barbie

6. Oscar de la Renta

7. Rio Senorita

8. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City

9. Barbie and the Beats

10. Computer software

CAPTION(S):

7 Photos, 2 Boxes

Photo: (1--Cover--Color) ALL dolled up

At 40, Barbie's still the best-dressed girl in town

(2--3--Color) Above, vintage Barbie waves from her oh-so-cool Corvette convertible. Far right, the new Butterfly Art Barbie sports a very 1990s stomach tattoo.

Photos by Leo Jarzomb

Associated Press

(4--5--Color) Barbie then and now: 1973's Doctor Barbie, right, dressed the career girl in surgical scrubs as well as a white coat and stethoscope. Flapper Barbie, above, is among the doll's many recent incarnations.

(6--Color) In 1985, Day to Night Barbie went from the office to an evening on the town.

Leo Jarzomb

(7) The new line of hip Barbie ``Generation Girls'' is being introduced by Mattel in conjunction with the timeless doll's 40th birthday. Among the new dolls is one with a nose ring.

Marty Lederhandler/Associated Press

Box: (1) What's your Barbie IQ? (See text)

(2) Answers to quiz (See text)
COPYRIGHT 1999 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 4, 1999
Words:1234
Previous Article:MUSICAL ALBUM BRINGS OUT THE KID IN LITHGOW.
Next Article:EDITORIAL : BIG BROTHER BANKING OUTRAGE METER: 8.


Related Articles
THE HYPE WHAT A DOLL! GENE 'LIVES' A LIFE MOST OF US CAN ONLY DREAM OF.
BARBIE JOINS QUINCEANERA FIESTA DOLL TARGETS RISING LATINO MARKET.
NEWS LITE.
BATTLEGROUND BARBIE: WHEN COPYRIGHTS CLASH.
NEWS LITE : NAMES IN THE NEWS ON-SCREEN LOVE NOT IN PICTURE FOR EX-PAIR.
IMPRESSIVE FIGURES NORTH HILLS-BASED MGA ALL DOLLED UP FOR CHRISTMAS WITH POPULAR BRATZ LINE.
Barbie shamelessly takes to the mall.
AMERICAN GIRL POWER NEW L.A. STORE BRINGS HISTORY TO LIFE (FOR A PRICE).

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters