Launched at the American Toy Fair in 1959, Barbie was the first teenage doll ever produced for children and quickly became one of the all-time best selling and most widely collected toys. Heavily promoted on TV, over a billion of the dolls have been sold. Collectors prize early numbered Barbie dolls from 1959 and the 1960s, as well as a wide range of rarities and special editions, such as Barbie dolls with bendable legs or red hair.
The toy was the vision of Ruth Handler, whose husband, Elliot, was the "el" in Mattel and whose daughter, Barbara, gave the doll its name. The inspiration for Barbie’s facial features and impossible hourglass figure was Bild Lilli, a doll Handler picked up in 1956 while vacationing in Europe.
Bild Lilli, which is a collectible in its own right, had pouty lips, reminiscent of the lips found on bisque and porcelain dolls in Europe. Mattel metallurgist Kohei Suzuki gave Barbie more natural-looking lips, although her eyes and nose were kept almost identical to those of her forebear.
The other critical difference between Bild Lilli and Barbie was the concept of accessories. Beyond Barbie’s standard black-and-white zebra-striped swimsuit, little girls in the United States could choose 22 other ensembles, ranging from a collarless Chanel-style jacket with matching sheath skirt to a satin-and-tulle bridal gown. Clothing designer Charlotte Johnson was hired away from her teaching post at Chouinard Art School in Los Angeles to complete this critical task.
Most of the outfits offered in 1959 were still available in 1960, making the three that were discontinued (Easter Parade, Gay Parisienne, and Roman Holiday) extremely collectible. Of the six new outfits added in 1960, Friday Night Date was one of the best, thanks to its charming blue corduroy jumper with felt appliqués, pair of soda glasses with cotton standing in for actual fizz, and a black serving tray bearing the Barbie logo.
1961 introduced the world to Ken, Barbie’s boyfriend named after Barbara Handler’s brother. In addition to Barbies with ponytails, dolls with bubble-cut 'dos were also offered. Barbie’s ever-increasing line of outfits suggested that this woman did more than go to fancy parties and beach barbecues — she was an American Airlines stewardess, a nurse, and even a professional ballerina.
Barbie’s best friend Midge was added in 1963. Though Midge’s facial features were different from Barbie’s, her body style was the same so that accessories could be mixed and matc...
During the middle of the 1960s, dolls in the Barbie line gained bendable limbs so they could be posed, but the major facelift came in 1967. Rooted eyelashes replaced the doll’s plastic ones, and Twist 'N Turn Barbies were offered for just $1.50 plus the trade-in of an old doll, which is why many of the original vintage dolls are so hard to find and expensive. 1967 was also the year that Barbie and her increasing number of friends went mod. The Bermuda Holidays outfits predate Goldie Hawn’s costumes on Laugh-In.
1967 is important to Barbie collectors for two other reasons: It was the year an African-American doll, Francie, joined Barbie and her friends, and it was the last year the doll was manufactured in Japan. From 1968 onwards, Barbie dolls were produced in Mexico, Taiwan, and Korea.
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Kohls Gears Up for Holiday Season; Launches Toy BrandsZacks.com, September 15th
Recently, Kohl's announced that it has stocked its stores with new and classic toys from national brands like Barbie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Fisher-Price, Melissa & Doug, Nerf, Play-Doh, Playskool and more to attract customers during the holiday...Read more
Marc Jacobs closes NY Fashion WeekMainichi Daily News, September 11th
With a Barbie-pink house and matching plush carpeting set up in an armory, Marc Jacobs closed New York Fashion Week on Thursday with models in military outfits and a computerized voice piped through Beats by Dr. Dre at every seat that spoke of a slower...Read more
New Barbie styled in Karl Lagerfeld's imageHamilton Spectator, September 9th
Famed designer Karl Lagerfeld has styled a new, collector Barbie in his image: black jacket, white men's shirt, black satin cravat and fitted black jeans. And then there's the Lagerfeld signature accessory of black fingerless gloves. And sunglasses of...Read more
Mattel launches Mexican Barbie wearing traditional dressDaily Mail, September 2nd
On the Barbie Collector website under Doll Details the doll's skin tone is listed as LA tan - not exactly a perfect likeness to an actual Mexican woman. Mr Sanchez added that Mattel could improve the collection by adding more contemporary...Read more
Do grown women want to dress like Barbie?Daily News & Analysis, August 30th
Mattel is introducing a Barbie clothing collection, in collaboration with Lord & Taylor, Forever 21, and Wildfox. The collection, available September 6, will be inspired by the doll's actual wardrobe in different eras, with Lord & Taylor interpreting...Read more
Barbie Show collection at Lakme Fashion Week Winter/ Festive 2014PINKVILLA, August 20th
Barbie Show collection at Lakme Fashion Week Winter/ Festive 2014. August 20, 2014 tarushi.c 6300 reads 2 comments. Sneak Peak at Barbie Show's Collection at Lakme Fashion Week Winter/ Festive 2014. Credits: Viral Bhayani. Tags: Barbie Show ...Read more
Mattel launching Barbie-inspired adult fashion linePhilly.com (blog), August 19th
Wildfox, the vintage-inspired L.A. clothing company, will release an 8-piece “The Wildfox Dreamhouse” collection paying homage to retro 1980s Barbie. Wildfox's collection retails between $37.50 and $183. Forever 21's 1990s Barbie collection is the most ...Read more
Soon you can wear Barbie's wardrobe, Mattel to launch Barbie fashion collectionThe Vine, August 18th
The clothing lines aim to expand Barbie's appeal to woman of all ages. The Forever 21 collection will consist of '90s Barbie-themed cosmetics, accessories and clothing, Lord and Taylor will feature '50s-inspired sleepwear, and the high-end Wildfox...Read more