Saturday, July 27, 2019

Black and White: Together, Forever

The iconic look of a faux zebra skin swimsuit inspires a celebratory gesture from Robert Best for The Barbie Fashion Model Collection. "Black and White Forever" Barbie goes all out to emphasize the impact of contrast and scale - the white an black stripes are now bands in gradating widths. And what better but a bow, large and voluminous, to add an element of surprise to the back?

Barbie is as sparkling as ever with deep blue eyes, vivid red lips and a sprinkling of silver glitter on her eyelids. Her platinum hair is also streaked with raven black, gathered in an elegant chignon.

The questions is: is this a total look where doll and fashion are forever joined or can "Black and White Forever" Barbie rock other looks? We think that you already known the answer, as any teen-age fashion model worth her salt - regardless of the fact that she is 60- will jump at the opportunity to model a selection of fashions in the same evocative color scheme.

Happy 60th, Barbie doll! Here's to black and white together and forever!

A glamorous black raw silk coat and dotted tulle chapeau by Bogue's Vogues is ideal Barbie style. Add a pair of classic cat-eyes glasses and Barbie is on the go. She's vintage and she's now. Who else can meld the past and present so seamlessly? Just Barbie.

Underneath, a slender sheath in a black and white floral print with attached ruched cummerbund is seriously elegant.

Mid-century classic, reproduced by Integrity Toys for their Funny Face line, and Barbie gives Dovima a run for the money. Mother Ruth approves. Godmother Charlotte would have too.

A suit of pied-de-poule tweed - it's almost a cliché - but this time, Barbie gives Fashion Royalty's "Time and Again" duo-tone cropped jacket and skirt an unexpectedly fresh vibe.

Black and white, you say? Revisited in a cozy warm knit by HillCrestBarbies and Barbie is a delish as the eponymous cookie.

Life lesson: be simple, be elegant. When the cut is as beautiful as in this Vince Nowell asymmetrical LBD, it's easy to avoid excessive ornamentation. 

Classic cocktail: mix one part black, one part white, a good sprinkling of stars and, voilà, you get the slinky moonlit grey bias-cut "Starry Nights Mood" by Integrity Toys, made unforgettable by Barbie.

At home, relaxed, Barbie wears a comfortable silk robe by Rosina Haskell. A day of modeling done well deserves a break.

"Black and White Forever" Barbie by Robert Best - for the Barbie doll's 60th anniversary.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Defiantly Unique

Faces. Never forgotten for their character, their defiance, their pride, their uniqueness. Since beauty (and art) is as as relative as nature is absolute, who is to judge with superficial impulse these countenances, created by the inspired Julian Kalinowski using his three dimensional hard plastic canvases? As Kalinowski experiments with the doll form and continues to push the boundaries of what is beautiful, Dolldom confirms his daring genius.

This exclusive photo portfolio of his newest collection of OOAK dolls, dressed in fashions by Tania Lawrence, is paired with delectably playful imagery - by the ever-unique Dame Edith Sitwell.

Edith Sitwell by Pavel Tchelitchew, circa 1935

"By Candlelight"
by Edith Sitwell

Houses red as flower of bean,
Flickering leaves and shadows lean!

Pantalone, like a parrot,
Sat and grumbled in the garret—
Sat and growled and grumbled till
Moon upon the window-sill
Like a red geranium
Scented his bald cranium.

Said Brighella, meaning well:
“Pack your box and—go to Hell!
Heat will cure your rheumatism!” . . .

Silence crowned this optimism—
Not a sound and not a wail:
But the fire (lush leafy vales)
Watched the angry feathers fly.
Pantalone ’gan to cry-

Could not, would not, pack his box!
Shadows (curtseying hens and cocks)
Pecking in the attic gloom
Tried to smother his tail-plume . . .

Till a cockscomb candle-flame
Crowing loudly, died: Dawn came.

Dolls by Julian S. Kalinowski
Fashions by Tania Lawrence
Millinery by Tania Lawrence and Bestiaire
Purses by LizRetros

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Pink Pride, Pink Power

As time passes, our perception of the color pink continues to evolve and connotations of a type of femininity contrived by outmoded patriarchal values disappear. As she turns 60-years old, the Barbie doll is the consummate representative of the ever controversial hue, poetically defined by the also-iconic Elsa Schiaparelli as “bright, impossible, impudent, becoming, life-giving, like all the light and the birds and the fish in the world put together.”

Designer Robert Best regales the Silkstone Barbie Fashion Model Collection with a look that would make the legendary Schiap proud and it's called "Proudly Pink". In a feat of monochromatic daring, the Barbie doll wears pink, PMS 219 - its official Pantone denomination, from head to toe. Too much pink? Absolutely no. For this is a look that epitomizes what the Barbie doll has come to signify: she is, in her unapologetic pinkness, a symbol of personal empowerment while having had to weather many a storm of criticism, ridicule, and scapegoating. With utmost pride she comes out of her dressing room exclaiming that strength comes from accepting who you are - pink, blue, green, or purple. "Proudly Pink" Barbie exhorts us to own our true colors, to be true to them, and to inspire others to do the same.

In this Dolldom exclusive, "Proudly Pink" Silkstone Barbie from the Barbie Fashion Model Collection celebrates her essential glow while demonstrating how versatile the color is when paired with black, silver, turquoise, and, of course, more pink! Be proud, be powerful, be pink!

A look for the ages - "Proudly Pink" adds another jewel to the crown of iconic Barbie doll fashion moments.

"Coquette" is all about volume - from the pouf sleeves of the blouse by Tania Lawrence to the full faille skirt by Bogue's Vogues.

"Bloomers" matches the roses from Fashionistas #92's "Retro Garden Party" and "Proudly Pink's" stretch stiletto boots.

"Night Angel" is evocative of 1980s Claude Montana. Suit by Tania Lawrence.

"Watusi" is for a night out disco dancing! In a fabulous-cause-it's-faux-fur coat from Mattel's 1996 Clueless collection, Barbie heads out to Studio 54.

Underneath, a silver mesh mini by Francesca Pigliapoco for Lotus Dolls reflects the light like the mirrored ball.

The show closes with a traditional gesture - white. But this is not a wedding dress in spite of it being Poppy Parker's "Wedding Belle's" wedding dress! Barbie edits out the veil and goes places with the polka-dotted net over satin wonder.

Monday, July 1, 2019

I Am Ricky

In episode six of season three of the AMC series Mad Men, little girl Sally Draper receives a Barbie doll given as a gift by her mother Betty. The well-researched and executed scene captures a moment that took place in thousands of homes across the United States in the early 1960s. Watching this vignette with all its painstaking attention to chronological correctness, I could not help but wonder if Sally's brother was himself desirous of receiving such a gift - an obvious projection of my own life experience. For as a child growing up in vintage Barbie doll's heyday, my ultimate wish was to receive, from my proud and smiling-with-approval parents, a slender gift-wrapped box containing my very own Barbie doll. Far from this fantasy, in my childhood in Puerto Rico in the mid 1960s, a boy never received nor dared to ask to receive the gift of a Barbie doll. For female fashion dolls were only for girls and that meant not being able to be part of the club. Ken and G.I. Joe were allowed and I played with both, but such play, sans Barbie, lacked magic and color and was boring to me. But in 1967, by the time he was being discontinued by Mattel, I got a Ricky doll. Ricky's smile and freckles captured my heart and imagination and became a childhood companion along with Talking Porky Pig, (also by Mattel) and Mortimer Snerd, a vinyl version of the ventriloquist doll. Perhaps unconsciously, I sensed that with Ricky by my side, I could one day be a member of the coveted Barbie Club.

The Ricky doll was introduced by Mattel in 1965, a year after the Skipper doll made her debut. Skipper proved to be a hit with children so to enrich her storyline, Mattel gave her friends - Skooter and Ricky. Introduced as Skipper's friend (not boyfriend), Ricky was the boy next door. To many parents, he may have been a dead ringer for marionette and TV children's favorite Howdy Doody and as such, hard to resist. One wonders how many Barbie fans added Ricky to their play even if dressing a boy doll was not high in their list of glamour-seeking priorities.

Just like Barbie, Ken, and Skipper, the Ricky doll illustrates a period when children still abode by societal expectations for sartorial formality. As a result, Ricky had an ensemble for every activity that a boy would undertake - from jeans to a suit. Ricky stopped being produced after 1967 when the Mod and Twist-and-Turn eras were in full swing as well as the US' involvement in the Vietnam War. Ken would also disappear soon thereafter and Barbie's Willows, Wisconsin would be an all-female realm for a while.

But today, Ricky is an integral member in many vintage Barbie collections. And being a relatively limited number of items, collecting the redheaded lad is not going to break the bank. Displayed along with the other denizens of the Barbie dolls' world, he instantly brings a smile to my face and a genuine feeling that the ideal kid-next-door is my lifelong friend. 

Children and Art
Ricky's portrait as featured on his box cover. Ricky is Skipper's friend, not boyfriend. He along with Skooter create the perfect kid triumvirate of Willows, Wisconsin.

Pack It Up, I'll Take It!
A NRFB "Skateboard" set (# 1505), from 1966-1967 features a cool blouson shirt and an even cooler skateboard. 

A Distinguished Lad
The back of Ricky's fashion boxes reveals the zeitgeist of the late 1960s.

Let's Explore!
The gang is enjoying the great outdoors. Rickywears "Let's Explore" (# 1506) composed of gray zippered slacks and a warm red plaid shirt, red socks and black shoes. A Japanese-issue Skipper stays warm in "Outdoor Casuals" (#1915) and Scooter is charming in the sleeveless top and slacks from "Fun Time" (#1920).

For how could Ricky not love baseball? "Little Leaguer" (#1504) boasts zippered blue jeans, a red and blue knit T-shirt, a red cap with "M" for Mattel and a catcher's mitt.

Toy Collector
Ricky shows us his toy collection before heading to bed in "Lights Out" (#1501) a yellow pajama set with blue terry cloth robe and matching slippers.

Little Daredevil
Ricky performs for Skipper in "Skateboard" (#1505) which features the ultimate toy: a skateboard!

Sunday Best
A perfect illustration of mid 1960s style, "Sunday Suit" (stock number 1503) offered Ricky the opportunity to attend a concert or go to church in a well-tailored striped blazer and black slacks.

In Japan
Although never produced by Mattel, this vignette makes us wonder what if Mattel had expanded the "Barbie Travel Costumes" series to the junior set. Ricky's yukata is by Vicky Ruby and Skipper's kimono is by Sylvia Campbell. 

Ricky was only produced with straight legs, from 1966-1967 (#1090). This version has the pink-toned vinyl skin that would characterize Mod Era dolls but the doll was produced using both types of vinyl. 

At Barbie's
The Ricky doll employed the same perfectly androgynous body sculpt as Skipper and Skooter. He poses for this photo in his original issue swim trunks and jacket. 

Go West!
Ricky visits The Golden Gate with Barbie and Ken in "Saturday Show" (# 1502). Barbie wears
"Fashion Shiner (#1691) and Ken sports "Rovin' Reporter (#1417).