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NEW YORK — Practically since she was born 51 years ago, Barbie has harbored an affinity for the fashion industry, and designers for their part have been returning the love.
This story first appeared in the January 25, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Last February, many came up with special Barbie dresses for a runway show during fashion week to mark her birthday. A year later, accessories will get their moment in the spotlight.
Mattel recently introduced a Barbie Basics doll, who wears a simple little black dress and can be easily accessorized and personalized by their owners with special accessories kits featuring such items as scarves, purses, shoes or jewelry.
Together with the Council of Fashion Designers of America, it has cooked up a special initiative to mark the launch of this special Barbie. For instance, the packaging of each Barbie Basics doll features a quip from a CFDA member about the little black dress. In addition, 12 CFDA members have accessorized a Barbie Basics doll, and in some cases, customized the little black dress.
The participating designers include Isaac Mizrahi, Rachel Roy, Justin Giunta, Lorraine Schwartz, Alexis Bittar, Monica Botkier, Deborah Lloyd of Kate Spade, Albertus Swanepoel and Devi Kroell.
“Each designer expressed his or her individual style by transforming their original Barbie Basics doll into a one-of-a-kind masterpiece,” said Stephanie Cota, senior vice president of marketing for Barbie. “The use of unique materials, special fabrics and, in one case, real diamonds, demonstrate how to infuse one’s own style and personality by accessorizing.”
Steven Kolb, executive director of the CFDA, added: “Because accessories are such a big element to the little black dress, this was a nice opportunity to put our accessories designers front and center.”
Philip Crangi gave Barbie her very own Giles chain necklace, some oversize rhinestone bangles and tiny nailhead stud earrings.
“It was a challenge to think on a small scale, and I wanted to give her just the right amount of statement, while making sure she could still lift her arms,” Crangi said. “It’s important for Barbie to feel comfortable, and I think she pulls off the jewelry with style.”
Betsey Johnson, meanwhile, was looking to give Barbie a “brand new shape,” “so I took inspiration from the impractical hoopskirts that I love to use every fashion show,” she said. “She’s a mix of a punky devil and a pretty mistress.”
Tory Burch had evening on her mind. “I love something sparkling for evening,” she said. “It can be a simple silhouette, but with unique details like sequins or beadwork. Of course, add a bold necklace.”
The special editions will be auctioned on eBay starting this Thursday through Feb. 7, with an opening bid of $100.
The entire net proceeds from the sale of these dolls will benefit CFDA’s educational initiatives and scholarship program. Barbie has been one of the largest donors to various CFDA initiatives, this being her latest charitable endeavor in aid of the organization. “She is the doll that keeps on giving,” Kolb said.