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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Karl Lagerfeld Barbie dolls sell out in under one hour, but you can still buy ...The Independent, September 30th
This comes as no surprise though, as the combination of “Karl Lagerfeld” and “limited-edition” seemed to be a must-have amongst fashionistas. Barbie Lagerfeld is part of Mattel's Barbie Collector series and the doll sports Kaiser Karl's signature grey...Read more
Enjoy Barbie's vintage years at Esse Purse MuseumTHV 11, September 24th
General admission also includes the Barbie® exhibit; ticket prices are 5 and younger, free; students, seniors (60+), military and groups of 10 or more who pay together, $8; regular, $10. If you've never seen Barbie and her friends and fashions in their...Read more
Moschino Barbie Collection Pieces Are Available to Rent Now, Including This ...Us Magazine, September 22nd
A model skates down the runway in Moschino's Barbie collection during Milan Fashion Week on Sept. 18. Credit: Catwalking/Getty ... Moschino's Jeremy Scott debuted his “Think Pink” Barbie collection in Milan on Thursday, Sept. 18, and for those ready to ...Read more
Milan Fashion Week 2014: Moschino's Colourful Barbie Doll-Inspired Spring ...International Business Times UK, September 19th
Italian fashion house Moschino has gone Barbie-crazy with its Spring/Summer 2015 collection, which was showcased during Milan Fashion Week and streamed live online in high-definition. The collection paid homage to the iconic children's toy by featuring...Read more
Jeremy Scott Created Barbie's Dream Collection at MoschinoFashionista, September 19th
The designer, who based his fall 2014 collection for Moschino on America's junk culture (think fast food, SpongeBob and Budweiser), decided to play on nostalgia for spring, and created a very literal version of Barbie's dream wardrobe for the season...Read more
Moschino: Buy It NowVogue.com, September 19th
JEREMY SCOTT wowed the fashion crowd once again last night with his Barbie-themed spring/summer 2015 collection for Moschino, but for those that can't wait until it drops in its entirety, there is an exclusive capsule collection available to buy now...Read more
It Was a Barbie World at MoschinoNew York Magazine, September 18th
Cue the Aqua. Jeremy Scott managed to top the outrageousness of fall's drive-thru chic with a Barbie-themed Moschino collection shown today in Milan. That meant tons of pink heart-shaped purses and puffy-scripted roll-away luggage (presumably sold ...Read more
Can You Spot All the Barbie References in the Moschino Spring 2015 Show?Glamour (blog), September 18th
Models had seriously voluminous wigs (platinum blond if it worked) and the entire first half of the show was all bubble-gum pink. There were all kinds of retro references too, from the chain belts to the prim skirt suits, and, of course, plenty of...Read more