Fashion Barbie Dolls
Recently I found myself in the Children’s Place—the fashion outlet for kids, usually aged 14 and under—that inspires exuberance, excitement, and ebullience . . . among adults. Yep, that’s right. The store for dressing up and dressing down our assorted offspring should be more correctly called the Parents’ Place.
In every changing room, I overheard a similar dialogue:
Mom (at the end of her rope): Yes, that’s right! I’m a HORRIBLE mother. I want you to try on nice-looking clothing and buy you pretty things. I should be arrested!
Daughter (clearly not interested): Mom, I didn’t ask for this! I want to go home and play with Anne Marie [or Donna, or Tammy, or Janice, or Crystal, or Keisha, etc.].
Grandmother (trying not to take sides): You’re not a bad mother. And you’re not a bratty child. But in my day, I would have felt I was in heaven if I got such clothes! And I’d like to go out to lunch now, too . . .
Yep, shopping for children—along with your in-laws, husbands, and grandparents—can be a draining experience. As you find an adorable tartan skirt, which matches exactly with a black-and-silver scoop-necked sweater, your daughter is off in the racks finding tri-colored knee-high socks or T-shirts with platypuses on them. (Phineas & Ferb are big hits in my house!)
I think after my attempt at attiring my son and daughter during a two-hour Children’s Place shopping spree (gift cards, coupons, and rebates work wonders), I realize why we love fashion dolls so much. Ken never nixes an argyle vest with a nifty pair of corduroys; Barbie will always consent to modeling a faux leopard jacket with a pair of flattering skinny jeans. Kids, on the other hand, whine and mutter and rebel and grouse. And as to going shopping by yourself, and for yourself, well, it’s no glorious re-creation of “Solo in the Spotlight.” The lighting in dressing rooms is one step below the department of motor vehicles and instant passport photo offices. (I refuse to believe that the reflection I see greeting me is the real me. No, it has to be a sideshow or carnival aberration.)
For those of us who adore fashion and accessorizing, Barbie Collector (http://www.barbiecollector.com/) is always looking out for our best interest. The array of outfits, designers, stylists, and high-profile fashionistas that have assembled there are more star-powered and glamorously glittering than any New York City Fashion Week show. It’s like a runway version of the Marvel Avengers. The same way those tights-wearing, cape-flinging superheroes banded together to mete out comic-book justice, the Barbie Collector dolls are united to showcase the marvelous artistry of Seventh Avenue legends and up-and-coming big names.
Tim Gunn Fashion Barbie Dolls
Tim Gunn, the critical, meticulous guru of “Project Runway,” has lent his talents, name, and painstaking attention to details (length of hemline, stitching around the collar, clean and crisp creases) to his self-named Barbie line: the “Tim Gunn Collection for Barbie.” Gunn’s offerings include dressed dolls (one in skinny jeans—yay—and the other in a sleek pencil skirt) as well as two accessory packs that include clothing, shoes, jewelry, and assorted items that complete a pulled-together look. Like Gunn so famously intones on his reality show, “Make it work,” Barbie! We all know she will! These wardrobe add-ons and the dolls debuted on the Collector site in August. They are hitting the shelves at Target in September.
Stephen Burrows Fashion Barbie Dolls
Additionally, Stephen Burrows, who began his foray into fashion in the late 1960s, is on hand with a stunning doll named “Pazette.” Burrows, who was one of the first African-American designers to be break the looking-glass ceiling of fashion salons and haute couture, was a part of the Warhol inner circle during the disco days of Studio 54. He has dressed the likes of Cher, Bianca Jagger, Barbra Streisand, Farrah Fawcett-Majors, and other famous faces who boogied and frugued under the revolving glitter balls. A celebrity designer for Henri Bendel, Stephen Burrows was a metropolitan and international darling for more than a decade. But then . . . in 1982, his star descended and his clothing was no longer in demand. In a second-act resurrection, which would stupefy F. Scott Fitzgerald, Burrows has come back stronger than ever over the last 10 years. He has cemented his reputation, sealed his place in the U.S. hierarchy of fashion icons, and has been lauded and lionized by the CFDA (the Council of Fashion Designers of America). The “Pazette” doll, which embodies a showgirl in the Josephine Baker or Lola Falana vein, is available on the Barbie Collector direct-purchase site.
The Blonds Fashion Barbie Dolls
A more recent Johnny-or-Jenny-on the spot are the Blonds, a designing duo that debuted their own fashion line in 2005. Always on the fringe of designing, costuming, and accessorizing, the couple (David and Philippe) put their stamp on a collection of clothing that was dramatic, opulent, outrageous, and stunning. Business partners, life partners, and sparring partners (they love to bicker and rank on one another), David and Philippe have adopted the shared surname of Blond. At times, both men have dyed their hair peroxided blond, and the younger Philippe often appears in public in full-fledged drag makeup and form-fitting gowns.
Known for their bejeweled and bedazzling corsets, the Blonds have become go-to mavens for glamour and magic. Pop stars Katy Perry, Rihanna, Fergie, and Britney Spears have all sported their shimmering corsets and corset-like dresses for album covers and performances. Naturally, the most beloved pop-culture princess of all time—Barbie—has now been officially primped and pulled tight by the Blonds. Their “Blond Diamond” Barbie is exotic, erotic, and perhaps a tad bit neurotic. She manages to maintain her balance in gravity-defying heels, a faux fur that trails behind her long limbs and narrow hips, and her waist is cinched as tight as can be in her gem-encrusted, silver, and metallic mini-corset dress.
Celebrated for their eye-popping and measurement-defying designs, the Blonds are also Barbie collectors in their own real life. The pair have oodles and oodles of vintage fashion Barbies as well as more recent debuts. During Fashion Week, they have made one-of-a-kind renderings of Barbie in some of their outlandish and bold fashion choices. Now, with the Barbie Collector pairing, the duo can offer their take on theatricality and sensuality to all of us collectors at home.
Plus, this new Blond Barbie doesn’t complain about being out too long at the shopping mall or prattle on about wanting to go home and play with her Nintendo DS. She’s the perfect sartorial surrogate: lithe, long-legged, loving to dress up and dazzle, and—most important—liable to hold her tongue and agree with your clothing taste. Sign me up to bring this glamourpuss home—and let my daughter keep her platypus T-shirts once and for all!