By  on February 17, 1994

NEW YORK -- Bill put her in a black jersey cut-out dress. Todd decided she would sizzle in his Firestarter print. Oscar knew only black velvet and midnight blue taffeta would do. Calvin gave her the slip -- a long, ivory satin charmeuse bias-cut slip dress, that is. And Anna made her look like an exact replica of a model in the designer's spring runway show.

The woman all these designers lavished their attentions on is a real doll, everyone agrees. Her name is Barbie, and believe it or not, she's turning 35. That's why they all scrambled to dress her.

Anna Sui's Barbie wears a white cotton bodysuit and blue metallic leather micro-mini skirt, double-breasted short trenchcoat -- silver-plated buttons and all -- and backpack, all available in Sui's spring line. It took the patternmaker two days to make the patterns, and the sewer 10 hours to whip the four tiny pieces into shape -- but who could say no to Barbie?

Todd Oldham was happy to work on "an icon," he said, who didn't complain about fittings. Of course, Amy Chan taught her Barbie a thing or two about being a modern mom -- put one baby in the pouch of a groovy silver backpack jacket, and the other in a baby sling, and she's off.

The 80 or so Barbies dressed by designers will be displayed and auctioned off at The Barbie Ball, slated for Feb. 26 at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Sponsored by Lifesongs for Aids Inc., a fund-raising organization for pediatric AIDS service providers, the ball was dreamed up by Lifesongs members, inspired by the Theatre de la Mode exhibit created in Post-War Paris. Mattel Inc. donated the dolls, and they included some giant hip-high versions of Barbie. De la Renta, Blass, Carolina Herrera, Chrome Hearts and Victor Costa grabbed up those.

The event is expected to raise $50,000.

"I got a $1,000 bid for the Chrome Hearts doll, sight unseen," said Ray Mitchener, the manager of the Ruth Shaw store in Baltimore, who first approached designers about dressing Barbie. "But one of my favorites is John Scher's tiered condom dress. I'll tell you, that was not an easy dress to make."

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