Artful Living

what a doll

Barbie in a box on the shelf at FAO Schwarz in New York City, pve photo.
Barbie is celebrating her 5oth birthday.   This doll has been a huge part of my life.  As a young girl, I loved playing dolls, on hours ad nauseam.  This post is a long one, so stay with me.

Illustration by Robert Best, hired to infuse a new look to Mattel’s -“Barbie.”
I had a simple collection kept in a signature pink plastic doll case and would find many things to make for them.  I would design clothes for them and several of my child hood friends remember what fun we had playing for hours with our Barbie-dolls.   I recently ran into an old childhood friend and we reminisced about those days and the countless hours we spent playing with dolls. 

If only this special doll of grace existed back then.  She is “Judith” dancing “Revelations” from the Alvin Ailey Dance Company. I danced for 13 years and had the pleasure of meeting Mr.Ailey as he was a guest at the University of Louisville where I took an intensive summer dance camp. He taught a class and was mesmerizing.  I will never forget his voice nor his words that it had to come from the core, for the leg extension.  If you have ever danced, you know that is the truth.  He lifted “my leg” which I shall never forget. 
Today, girls can play and design the outfits on-line.  Just think of all the possibilities.  My daughter and her friend loved playing at FAO Schwarz in New York on a recent shopping play day.  The Barbie area seemed to be a popular spot for mothers and daughters of all races which shows just how far we have come.  

I have always loved all the accessories, the bags, the shoes, the gloves.  

Especially the fur trimmed ensembles.

There was something so elegant about them, especially all the fur trappings.  From NY Fashion week, a nod to Barbie and her elegant look and tiny waist.  I fathom trying to belt a fur around this waist.  How about you?
Getting them ready to go out required work, the gloves were not easy to slip into nor the glass slippers.  I fondly remember having a clear slippers and thinking every girl needed a pair.
Sling-back heels were also on the list of must haves for a trip to the beauty parlor.  Note I did not use the word “salon.”
One of my favorite things about Barbie was her hair.  I loved styling chic chignons or the quintessential ponytail like that of a horses tail.  I used them to model a style and then mirror that style.   My big sister sent me the above photo just yesterday.  Now that my hair is short, I long for a pony-tail like these gorgeous dolls.  I even had the doll which you could lengthen or shorten the hair length.  I also cut the hair in short sassy styles like “Twiggy” to give them a modern edge.  I hated that the feet of the dolls was already posed for high heels.  It ruined it for a day of ballet flats or those mod white patent leather go-go boots.  

Then “Skipper” came on board and she saved the day with flat feet and a flat chest, all ready for a crafty and active life.  Skipper and Barbie are all ready for their weekly knitting group.
Barbie even learned to cook.  My Mother had a pink and avocado green kitchen.  

But after a hard day of work over a hot stove in the kitchen sporting a shirtwaist and heels, how about slipping into something for the Oscars or perhaps serving your guests Oscar Mayer products, like pigs in a blanket or bologna and saltines.  There are always “takers for classics.” 
Love to know what dolls or toys filled your child-hood with joy.