9th March 1959: A Star is Born!

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A fashion model, a trend-setter, an icon of American culture.
An aspiration for millions of girls who idolise her.
An inspiration to artists and fashion designers.
Her celebrity status expanded with time, while her features remained permanently youthful, her elegant silhouette ever so lean and slender.
She brushes aside criticism and controversy with a disdainful flick of her shiny, perfectly coiffed hair, aware that her popularity only increases despite (or because) of it.

1 billion dolls sold since 1959
6 dolls on average owned by 3 to 6 year-old girls
3 dolls bought every second in the world*

*On September 26, 2006, a Barbie doll set a world record at auction of £9,000 (US $17,000) at Christie’s in London.

I have never owned one.
Which probably spared me the hardship of trying (and never  succeeding) to match her insane proportions.

Her colossal wardrobe though, its sheer volume in direct contrast with its doll-size is so superb, it makes me long for the day that human miniaturisation is made widely available.

Until then, here are some of the exquisite ’60s styles on display during the recent ”Barbie Retro Chic” exhibition at the Musée de la Poupée-Paris, about which I learned thanks to the beautiful pictures of Anne-Laure and Mathias and their ‘‘deux regards”  (two glances).

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On the left, the first Barbie of 1959 in her swimsuit and a recent reproduction.

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Barbie ”Swirl Ponytail”, 1964. She is wearing ”Enchanted Evening” a rare ivory version reserved for the Japanese market. Her ”Mink Stole” of 1964 is made of real mink fur and is considered the most rare item of Barbie’s wardrobe.

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Barbie Silkstone ”The Interview” by Robert Best, 2007.

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Barbie Silkstone ”Muffy Roberts” by Robert Best, 2005.

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Barbie ”Pretty Pleats” by Robert Best, 2006.

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Barbie Silkstone ”Toujours Couture” by Robert Best, 2007.

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Barbie ”Ponytail” brunette of 1959. She is wearing the rare ensemble ”Easter Parade” of 1959.

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Barbie Silkstone ”Fashion Editor” by Robert Best, 2000.

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Left: Barbie ”Preferably Pink”, a Robert Best creation of 2007. Right: ”American Girl” of 1966 wearing ”Fashion Luncheon”.

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In front, Barbie ”American Girl”, 1966. She is wearing ”Saturday Matinee” of 1965. Behind her, Barbie Silkstone is wearing ”Tweed Indeed”, a Robert Best creation of 2006.

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Barbie ”Ponytail Swirl” of 1964, wearing ”Music Center Matinee” made in 1966.

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”Couture at Notre Dame”, one-of-a-kind piece by Magia 2000, made in 2014.

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Barbie ”Bubblecut” of 1962 wearing ”Red Flare”.

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In front, Barbie ”Ponytail” of 1962, wearing ”Busy Gal” made in 1960. Next to her, Barbie Silkstone ”The Shop Girl”, a Robert Best creation of 2008. Behind: Barbie ”Ponytail” of 1966 is wearing ”Pan American Stewardess” and, last, Barbie ”Ponytail” of 1962 is wearing ”American Airlines Stewardess”, made in 1961.

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Barbie Silkstone ”The Nurse” by Robert Best, 2005.

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Barbie ”Bubblecut” of 1961 wearing ”Registered Nurse” and her reproduction of 2010.

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Barbie ”Bubblecut” of 1963 is wearing ”Student Teacher” made in 1965 and her reproduction of 2010.

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Barbie Silkstone ”Walking Suit” by Robert Best, 2011.

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Barbie Silkstone ”Happy go lightly” by Robert Best, 2005.

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Left: Barbie ”Ponytail” of 1960 wearing ”Gay Parisienne” of 1959. Right: her reproduction of 2002.

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”Couture at Rue Royale”, one-of-a-kind piece by Magia 2000, made in 2014.

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Barbie Silkstone ”Joyeux” by Robert Best, 2004.

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”Couture at the Arc de Triomphe”, a one-of-a-kind creation by Magia 2000, 2014.

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Barbie Silkstone ”Palm Beach” by Robert Best, 2010.

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Barbie Silkstone ”Un après-Midi à Paris” by Robert Best, 2011.

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”Couture at Champs Elysées”, one-of-a-kind piece by Magia 2000, made in 2014.

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”Couture at Palais Royal”, one-of-a-kind piece by Magia 2000, made in 2014.

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Musée de la Poupée-Paris
IMPASSE BERTHAUD
Paris

14 August 2014

Shared photo credits  (Konstantinos & Lia)

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24 thoughts on “9th March 1959: A Star is Born!

  1. What a parade of cool outfits! I never had Barbie but I had Sindy which was the UK version. She was brunette and a little less svelte. When the manufacturers changed her to make her skinnier and more like the US doll, people stopped buying her.
    What a coincidence considering the post I wrote today. 🙂

    • Oh yes, we had Sindy in Greece but, still, a bit too late for me to make real friends 🙂 Funny that they changed her to be more like Barbie. At some point Mattel had Barbie’s waist widened for people to keep buying her! That didn’t make her measurements less insane though! And noooow, switching to yours… x

  2. Pingback: 9th March 1959: A Star is Born!

  3. Wow! My favourites here: the “Easter Parade” ensemble and the “Red Flare”, amazing garderobe has this (forever) young lady. And then: The blonde Barbie in the first picture: fabulous! My generation in Spain grew up with the (also well dressed but not so elegant) chunkier “Nancy”. Barbie came as we had already our own “what should I wear” problems.

    • Mine are the ”Walking Suit”, the ”Saturday Matinee” and the gorgeous ”Busy Gal”. I don’t remember a similar doll when I was a little girl in the 70s, in Greece. Later, we had two ”rivals”, Ms Bibi-bo and Ms Sindy but the shiniest star of them all did not become widely available until the late ’80s (around ’88) – too late for ”grown-ups” like me!

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