LOS ANGELES — Tarina Tarantino and Barbie are now best friends.

Tarantino, known for her pink tresses and Swarovski crystal-encrusted designs, is expanding her 10-year-old accessories empire with help from the iconic doll. She is preparing to launch her cobranding partnership with Mattel Inc.’s Barbie Luxe brand of women’s clothing, beauty products and accessories in May.

Tarantino mined Mattel’s vast archive dating to Barbie’s birth in 1959 and printed images of the doll on Lucite stones tinted with colorful backgrounds for her pieces. For instance, one handbag displays a 1965 image evoking a sensuous Brigitte Bardot.

The launch will coincide with the opening of Tarantino’s first shop in the Takashimaya department store in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district after a recently inked distribution deal with Itochu Corp. The agreement includes plans to open three freestanding boutiques — the first of which will bow in November — and 16 more shops within department stores, including Takashimaya and Isetan, over three years in Japan. The company also is looking to move into New York’s retail market this year with a shop in SoHo, adding to its boutiques in Los Angeles and Milan, a spokeswoman said.

The designer said Itochu, which plans to spend $3 million to open the shops, projected the Tarantino stores in Japan would generate a total of $30 million in retail sales in the first five years. Tarantino also estimated the Barbie collection could boost her annual sales by at least 30 percent.

“With this collection, we’re doing not only jewelry and belts, but also a handbag line that will launch in August,” Tarantino said of the new Barbie Luxe label, Barbie by Tarina Tarantino.

Previously, Barbie Luxe was available at Fred Segal Flair, the Santa Monica, Calif., boutique that launched the line last October with designs from Anna Sui, Citizens of Humanity and others. Barbie by Tarina Tarantino, with about 45 pieces, will be sold at Tarantino’s boutiques, and also at Blue Bee in Santa Barbara, Calif.; Olive & Bette’s in New York, and Selfridges in London, among other retailers.

“We had an incredible response to [Barbie Luxe], not only from the consumer, but also from retailers asking for product or suggesting designers for us to team up with,” said Richard Dickson, a senior vice president for Mattel, based in El Segundo, Calif.

This story first appeared in the March 31, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Wholesale prices for Tarantino’s Barbie line range from $100 to $150 for belts and $150 to $300 for handbags. Jewelry wholesales from $22 for cell phone charms and $35 for earrings dripping with colored pearls, crystals and Barbie cameos to $120 for a charm necklace.

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