Saturday, April 25, 2020

Tea Time

After 20 years of being regaled by the Barbie Fashion Model Collection, designed by Robert Best for Mattel, we're getting close to the end. For the line that brought back the Barbie doll's 1959 sculpt to a rarefied world of fashion, heavy on references to haute couture, will soon become part of the doll's history.

"Best to a Tea" is the second doll being offered this year and like her sister "Best in Black", she is an enchanting presence. Dressed in a Channel-inspired suit, the black Barbie doll has vivid make-up that pops-out from under the black tulle veil of a fascinator hat with fuchsia blooms. Although the doll and fashion ensemble are designed to be a total look, this beautiful iteration of the Barbie doll is versatile and will be a favorite among collectors for redressing. Note: Dolldom's stylists added two classic BFMC cuff bracelets that are not part of the production doll.

As the line's trajectory reaches it's conclusion, it's important to point out that its evolution has maintained a sense of coherence due to Best's vision. At the same time, one must consider the effect that market forces and manufacturing challenges have had on the realization of Best's designs. What was possible in 2000 seems not to be possible in 2020. A line that was predicated on bringing back the details of the Barbie doll's heyday under the direction of Charlotte Johnson, is, 20 years later, making adaptations that divert from its original philosophy. For "Best to a Tea's" undeniable loveliness brings the use Velcro closures to the skirt, blouse and belt. Perhaps a decision made to reduce the bulk created by metal snaps, yet, one that is readily associated with other lines in lower price points. Not that Velcro closures have not been used before in the BFMC ("Boater Ensemble's" halter blouse comes to mind), but in "Best to a Tea", it feels normalized.

This said, "Best to a Tea" is an afternoon delight of sorts, more so now that we collectors know that there's only two more dolls before the Barbie Fashion Model Collection ceases production.

In this Dolldom exclusive, "Best to a Tea" and "Best in Black" gather for an afternoon of fashion talk and tea. Dolldom thanks Robert Best and Mattel for 20 years of steadfast dedication to beauty.

"Best to a Tea" Silkstone from the BFMC

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