On March 9, 2009 Barbie celebrated her 50th Anniversary, much to the delight of toy and doll collectors around the world. In her 50 years, Barbie has been clothed by more than 70 famous designers, held over 108 careers, represented 50 nationalities, and forever inspired millions of girls all over the world. According to Mattel, 90 percent of U.S. girls ages 3-10 own at least one Barbie doll.
The world’s most famous doll was introduced at the New York Toy Fair on March 9, 1959. To commemorate this event, Mattel is unveiling a modernized reproduction of the original Barbie doll in her black and white bathing suit and for the very first time, there is an African American version of the doll. Six other dolls from over the years will also be re-released in the My Favorite Barbie doll series.
In addition to replica dolls, Mattel introduced the 50th Anniversary Collector Barbie doll. This Barbie epitomizes the “Golden Anniversary” with a sparkly gold gown, golden blonde hair, dazzling style and a $50 price tag - a bit of an increase from the original doll’s cost of $3!
Many events were planned to celebrate the half-century-old icon. Fifty designers pulled together at Fashion Week at Bryant Park on February 14th to put on a fashion show as a tribute to Barbie. Among the exhibitors were Kenneth Cole, Vera Wang, Michael Kors, and Diane von Furstenberg. The show included a video montage reviewing Barbie’s 50 years, models sporting Barbie-esqe designs, and a one and only Ken “doll”. The end of the show brought everything full-circle with 50 young girls wearing Barbie dresses each holding hands with a model.
To mark 50 years of the #1 girls brand worldwide, Mattel hosted Barbie’s Birthday Party at her “real” Malibu Dream House. The party was held at an actual Malibu beach house, designed by interior decorator Jonathan Adler. Barbie’s closest friends from over the years were invited to attend.
Also adding to the excitement was Mattel’s official grand opening of their very first Barbie flagship store in Shanghi, China at the beginning of March. The store is 1,500 square meters and six stories high, and chock full of Barbie dolls, cosmetics, jewelry, clothing, and more. It even includes a doll design center, fashion runway, spa, and café.
Other retailers such as Bloomingdales, Colette, Stilla and Fred Segal joined in on the anniversary fun by featuring special Barbie-inspired products and promotions. Assouline, publisher of luxury books, is selling the ultimate Barbie coffee table book with 128 pages of Barbie’s history and fashion as part of its Ultimate Collections series. There were only 200 copies printed, so the limited edition book costs $500.
It has been 50 years of excitement, intrigue, and controversy, and Barbie has forever made an impact on our culture. As the world continues to change, Barbie’s collectors and fans know that Barbie will remain a constant and cherished keepsake and an inspiration for generations to come.
Check out Barbie’s first-ever television commercial by visiting our blog.