Playing fashion — how Barbie changed our childhood

Playing fashion — how Barbie changed our childhood

What we saw and experienced during childhood directly influences the way we perceive the world. Do you agree? Environment, upbringing, items, and images – all of this forms our perception, our values, and our sense of beauty. Many of us loved playing with dolls. Many of us started sewing by creating outfits for Barbie dolls. Let’s explore the history of this iconic toy, shall we? Keep scrolling!

The history of Barbie starts in the 1950s when Ruth Handler, a co-owner of Mattel, noticed that her daughter as well as her daughter’s friends mainly played with paper dolls. Back then, girls had the baby doll option, which allowed them to play house only. Girls, however, showed interest in playing with adult-looking dolls and chose paper dolls in the absence of other options. Handler realized that was a great business opportunity, and that’s why the company manufactured a doll that looked like a grown woman.

The doll’s full name is Barbra Millicent Roberts. Barbie is the short playful version of her name. She was named after Ruth Handler’s daughter.

The very first Barbie doll entered the American market in 1959. She looked unusual for a toy – she had a bust, a tiny waist, and a stylish outfit. She was wearing a black-and-white striped swimsuit. She was the first mass-produced toy doll that looked like an adult. Several years passed, and Barbie became an all-time favorite of girls around the world. And the legendary doll still maintains her status, after all these years!

Being a real fashion icon, Barbie was bound to become a part of the fashion world. Mattel designers attended Paris fashion shows, looking for inspiration in collections of famous fashion designers of the 20th century. Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent – Barbie had to look like a fashionista, dressed in accordance with the latest trends. For instance, in the 1960s, Barbie sported the style of Jacqueline Kennedy. And in the 1980s, when Jane Fonda was the it-girl and everybody did aerobics, there were Barbies wearing neon workout clothes.

After some time, designers started creating customized outfits for Barbie. The doll has tried on the famous Bar jacket by Dior, appeared in the iconic Burberry trench coat, got married in a Vera Wang dress, flaunted gowns by Versace and Escada, wore a total look by Karl Lagerfeld and Louboutin heels. She also had a dress by Bob Mackie who created garments for Cher and Tina Turner. Just recently, she was dressed in Balmain.

The Escada collaboration had a curious twist: Barbie wore a brand’s dress in 1996, while Escada included a dress referencing Barbie's look in their 2009 collection.

Barbie definitely influenced the fashion sense of many girls. Some loved to dress her, some started sewing outfits for her, and some liked to make her live an inspiring life full of adventures. Playing is a fun way to obtain new skills and learn something – because it’s exciting and not forced. Would you like to play princesses with Vikisews? The wedding dress collection is available on the website. Working with these gorgeous patterns and delicate fabric is a piece of cake!

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