Ever since 1994, when the Barbie Doll turned thirty-five years old, Mattel has been producing reproductions of vintage dolls and fashions. Fast forward to 2015, twenty-one years later, there is a doll that successfully captures the essence of the original 1959 Barbie concept. Black and White Swimsuit Barbie Doll, designed by Bill Greening, comes in a slender shoe box-style box in a swimsuit and sunglasses, ready to come out and model. But some may ask: "Hasn't Mattel done that many times?" Yes, the toy giant has indeed released many dolls in swimsuits including the most recent Let's Play Barbie, but not at all like this one. We'll explain...
Black and White Swimsuit Barbie has it - that elusive quality abundant in vintage dolls. It's presence and attitude. A face, big, broad, enhanced with a Technicolor make-up palette. The head sculpt is generous, the curly bangs tiny and tidy, brows are
placed just right on her forehead, a red shiny pout, and much to our surprise, the
perfectly scaled ponytail boasts a tidy hard curl. Although never to be confused with a Barbie doll from the 60s - Black and White Swimsuit Barbie has a different rooting pattern with lower placed hairline and
bangs and a different formulation of vinyl - she possesses an integrity
of construction and execution that places her in a category all her own.
Dolldom feels that this time the focus has been placed on the actual quality of the doll as a mannequin rather than to the design and graphics of the packaging and the inclusion of multiple accessories. Black and White Swimsuit Barbie is a well-made doll the result of attention paid to details that echo back to the exquisite production standards of the early 1960s dolls in Japan. She even comes in a beautiful pink and black cardboard box (no plastic windows through which to look but not touch) clearly saying that here is a mannequin to wear the surplus of fashions in your collection. Or perhaps the perfect one with which to being a collection!
Once released from her pink silhouette box, Black and White Swimsuit Barbie is ready to do what a teen-age fashion model does best: model! But first Barbie hangs out by the pool with Ken.
What shall I wear?
Country roads await! Barbie models a Retros sweater and slack set under the "Peachy Fleecy" (#915) coat and hat before driving away in her Austin-Healey.
Summertime outings call for cool cotton separates from the PAK line. Accessories? "Open Road's" hat, sandals, sunglasses, and a cheery attitude.
A professional woman faces the day in the Chanel-esque "Commuter Set (#916) navy suit and Busy Gal's (#981) body blouse. White gloves, a Silkstone BFMC bracelet, and red petal hat are luxe touches.
A quiet evening with Ken is spent in a PAK sweater and cotton slacks and the halter top and pearl choker from "Mood for Music" (#940).
Who is that girl in the portrait?
Black and White Swimsuit Barbie is elegant in "Junior Prom's" (#1614) gown and fur.
How to close the fashion show?
With a classic that in spite of having been reproduced and re-issued many (many) times never falls into the depths of triteness. "Solo in the Spotlight" (#982) remains the most sensationally sophisticated fashion that Barbie has ever worn. Some say she whipped it up in Home Economics class.
Dolldom congratulates Mattel and Mr. Greening for a job well done. This is the direction in which to take future issues and to pay respect to vintage Barbie's heritage - focus on details, integrity of quality of the mannequin, and a popular price point. Could we have (please?) Black and White Swimsuit Barbie dolls with brunette and Titian red hair now? Thank you!