NEW YORK — Byron Lars has struck a deal with Mattel to produce a collectible Barbie doll with African-American features.
There already are black Barbies, but this will be the first sold through direct marketing rather than in toy stores, according to a spokeswoman for Mattel, which is based in El Segundo, Calif. The doll will be available in April 1997.
Following that, Mattel periodically will introduce African-American Barbies designed by Lars.
The Lars Barbie will be advertised in magazines and sold directly through Mattel and home shopping channels. The design, outfits and price haven’t been set yet.
“I’m really thrilled about it,” said Lars. “It’s funny. I never thought of doing one before, but when I got that call, you would have thought the President of the U.S. called and asked me to make him a tuxedo.”
Lars said he couldn’t disclose what fashions Barbie will wear, but said, “It’s even more upscale than my collection.”
“We plan for it to be a series, and the fashion would be different in each one,” said the Mattel spokeswoman.
Lars joins a list of designers who have created collectible Barbie dolls, including Bob Mackie, who has done nine; Donna Karan; Nicole Miller, and Gianfranco FerrA for Christian Dior. The dolls have varied in price, depending on their costumes and their availability.
The Karan Barbie, for example, dressed in a black bodysuit, black sarong skirt and red cashmere shawl, retailed for $65, while one of the Mackie Barbies, decked out in sequins and beading, was $200.
Lars said his fall collection, which he will show Tuesday, will have a Barbie theme.

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