This is an exhibition that me and the girls were most anxious to see. "Barbie" arrived in Paris in March and plans to stick around all summer long through September 18. This is the first time ever, a major French museum has dedicated its walls to the most famous doll ever....Barbie! And we can say unequivocally, Barbie is in her element at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs (a wing of the famed Louvre museum). Some 700 dolls--from the early bathing suit beauty to the most recent "Curvy" and "Made to Move" Barbies are all present over 1500 square meters (4500 square feet) of exhibition space. In dolly talk...every Barbie who's any Barbie is there!
|The ultimate Barbie Haute Couture show in Paris!!!!|
|Marie Antoinette Barbie. And no, I don't know if her head comes off!!!|
The couturiers of the 19th-early 20th centuries often used dolls as an economical way to display concepts or as a means to present their fashions abroad. This exhibition begins on this point by displaying a few historical French dolls. After a brief explanation, the spotlight is clearly handed over to Barbie, the main focus of the show.
|These photos from Barbie's Instagram page. Courtesy of Mattel.|
"We then collaborate with fabric manufacturers and make samples of clothes which are more or less finished. But nothing can go into production without the accord of everyone involved in the chain of command including those working in our factories abroad." Best has worked for Mattel for 20 years, though admitted, "I took this job thinking I'd only stay one year."
Created in 1959 by Ruth and Elliot Handler, Barbie was inspired by a German doll, Lilli. Ruth designed her doll with an ample bustline (remember, Marilyn Monroe's curvy figure was all the rage in the 1950's!) The executives at Mattel as well as those participating in the New York toy fair were quite skeptical. They feared little girls would be put off by the doll's mature physical dimensions as well as her sophisticated wardrobe at a time when baby dolls were plentiful and all the rage. But once stores agreed to take a chance on Barbie, she flew off the shelves, proving to be a top selling toy both before and after Christmas. By 1962, Handler who planned to produce 20,000 dolls per week, was forced to triple the production to meet demand.
|Family Portrait: mommy, daddy and Barbie. Photo courtesy of Mattel|
As times and women's roles in society changed, so did Barbie. John Glenn went to space in 1963. So went Barbie in her own 1/6 scale space suit! The exhibition visualizes all 150 careers Barbie has had, each presented separately under a glass bell. Did you know that Barbie has been a police officer, deep sea diver, race car driver, McDonald's waitress, construction worker or Cabaret performer? And long before there was a Hillary Clinton running for office, there was Barbie (a candidate four times already!!!)
As women tossed their high heels aside in favor of sports gear, so did Barbie. She plays tennis, skis, swims, dances, and today's Made-to-Move Barbie practices yoga all over the globe!
|Barbies of the world|
|The famous "Little Black Dress" collection is where many of us began our doll collecting.|
|On with the show!|
|Christian Lacroix, Jean-Claude de Castelbajac, Thierry Mugler, Paco Rabanne|
|Moschino, Coach, Diane von Furstenberg, Lancon|
|Jean Paul Gaultier|
|Herve Leger, Sonia Rykiel, Marchesa|
|Tippie Hendrin Barbie relives Hitchcock's "The Birds"|
Next door, is a photo studio where a Silkstone Barbie poses for the camera in the glare of a tiny strobe light.
In front there is another set with Barbie is standing next to a wrought iron door, inviting in a gentleman who has parked his scooter outside.
Barbie nuns look on!
But the piece de la resistance is...the Haute Couture show. Within a breathtaking setting that could have been lifted from the house of Christian Dior, patrons sit while analyzing a fashion show of Silkstone Barbies on the podium. Outside, more dolls are arriving with handsome Ken dolls on their arms. Honestly, I could have looked at this all day long.
The exhibition ends with a wall of Barbie clothes. Some 7000 articles of clothes and accessories from playline collections are organized by color and mounted onto this ginormous installation. As children entered the room and saw this, they screamed in delight. While I am not into these kinds of Barbie clothes, I could totally relate to how they felt!
|Wall of clothes.|
Barbie. Musee des Arts Decoratifs. 107, rue de Rivoli. 75001 Paris. Open Tues-Sun 11am-6pm (Thurs. till 9pm). Admission 11 Euros.
|Wow, what a great show. That was really enjoyable!!!|
There's another show in town. "Hollywood Stars as Dolls," currently on at the Musee de la Poupee (Paris Doll Museum). We're preparing a new tutorial but the girls will be bringing you a report on that exhibition very soon!!!
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