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November 23, 2009

Barbie continues to celebrate her 50th birthday in very high style

Posted on Mon Nov 23 2009


Mattel's iconic Barbie doll turned 50 this year (not that you'd know it, with those legs and tummy still smooth as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) and is celebrating with about as many branding gambits. We've already written about Hotel Chocolat's "Barbie Box," as well as Barbie's newfound interest in retail stores and feature films. But it turns out that's just the tip of the iceberg.
  • Assouline Publishing released Barbie, a limited-edition book of Barbie photographs and artwork that reprises the anglaise technique of hand-applied "color tipping." Shipped in a pink, cloth-bound slipcase, the 128-page book retails for $500.
  • French designer Christian Louboutin designed a special pair of not-so-sensible shoes modeled after Barbie's high-altitude pumps. Rendered in shocking Pantone No. 219 pink (you didn't expect them to match anything, did you?), the haute cobbler's creations debuted at a Mattel-sponsored runway show this past February, at which a who's who of high-end designers showed off their Barbie-inspired couture. (We couldn't find the retail price for the pink pumps, but Louboutin's average footwear goes for $800 a pair, so you get the idea.)
  • The Palms hotel in Las Vegas threw open the doors of the Barbie Suite this year—a 2,350 square-foot warren of rooms covered in pink chintz and stuffed with Barbie-like furnishings such as white-wire chairs and mirrored dressers. Too bad that few people heading to Vegas these days have the chips for the $4,000 a night it costs to bed down in this fantasy suite. At least the maids won't have to work too hard to keep the Jonathan Adler-designed rooms clean.
  What's most amazing about these brand extensions is that they stem from a doll that cost $3 when it debuted in 1959 and can still be picked up at Walmart for about $35—evidence of just how far a successful brand can go. Meanwhile, at 50, Barbie has learned to diversify. For Christmas this year, her label is also selling a Twilight Edward and Bella doll set. No word on the vampire suite in Vegas as yet.

—Posted by Robert Klara


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