October 4, 2023


Shopping, Clothing & Fashion

Meet up with the Vogue Designer Responsible for “Dressing Barbie”

Dressing Barbie by Carol Spencer

Dressing Barbie (Harper), subtitled A Celebration of the Clothing That Created America’s Beloved Doll and the Extraordinary Girl At the rear of Them written by Carol Spencer is a vibrant ought to-go through e-book now offered in paperback. The writer has penned a temporary but fascinating memoir of her life and 4-ten years career of doll and miniature vogue style and design for the internationally famous, legendary 11.5” molded plastic doll named Barbie. As a Mattel insider, she also delivers an insightful insight into the large alterations in the toy industry.

With eye-popping colours, Dressing Barbie invites the reader to enter a unique museum an independently curated Barbie and friends’ assortment. It is lavishly illustrated with Carol Spencer’s possess striking pictures of numerous of the dolls she created full with their coordinated outfits, accessories, autos and residences along with vintage commercials and small regarded information about this doll-sized globe of substantial manner. It is a amazing achievement and a reference guide that each individual Barbie enthusiast and collector as very well as any individual fascinated in outfits and design will want to own.

Stage into this time device and vacation by the a long time as the dolls and their attire transformed and advanced. Creative creator and vogue designer Carol Spencer labored closely with freelance writer, journalist and Editor Laurie Brookins to share her insights, recollections and large own archive of dolls, paperwork and photographs to develop this marvel.   It is simply 1 of the best books this continuous reader has read through this year despite not being a doll collector or an fanatic.

Carol Spencer was ever an unbiased thinker a girl who understood her individual brain, really intelligent, resourceful and massively gifted. Born in 1933 in Dallas, TX, Carol was 4 years previous and her sister Margaret a couple of many years older when their father died and their mother moved them to Minneapolis, MN. They lived with their aunt, uncle and grandmother, a gifted seamstress and high-quality needle employee who passed on her talent and abilities to her youthful granddaughter. Carol recalls that apart from the clear roles of wife and mother, work solutions for girls of her generation were ordinarily restricted to “nurse, trainer, secretary, shopgirl and seamstress.” Her sister willingly turned a nurse. During high school, Carol had dated a boy who experienced the expectation she would get a job and aid his instruction and intention to develop into a doctor.

However, fortune smiled on her when she attended a seminar about summer season work opportunities in the trend market and heard the magic terms “fashion designer.” She utilized and was recognized to the Minneapolis Faculty of Artwork. The boyfriend vanished immediately after getting advised he desired to spend for his very own instruction and she was then on her way to a lifelong vocation and gratifying career.

In 1955, subsequent senior yr, she was just one of 20 faculty ladies out of 37,000 candidates preferred for the extremely-prestigious Mademoiselle Magazine Visitor Editor Software. This talent and achievement-primarily based contest began in 1939 and finished forty a long time afterwards in 1979 the journal itself folded in 2001. It was the most coveted summer time internship plan in the area of journalism and there were only 728 Guest Editors throughout the forty a long time the program existed.

All ended up school pupils or modern graduates picked from submitted composed apps, a number of essays and samples of do the job jobs. They had to go a arduous series of interviews and show their talent and ability in the spots of crafting, poetry, artwork, illustrations, photography and trend. The winners ended up flown to New York City and furnished housing in the strictly supervised, woman-only Barbizon Hotel for their a person thirty day period keep.

The preferred number of would operate in the editorial office of Mademoiselle on the yearly outsized August college or university everyday living edition. These young women been given a modest income, underwent magnificence makeovers, were specified outfits with accessories and provided possibilities to satisfy and interview a dazzling array of luminaries.

Spencer was presented to the Fashion Council at a lavish cocktail party reception hosted by Helena Rubenstein in her penthouse condominium. Their itinerary was packed with activities and an introduction to a level of glamour and sophistication most of the ladies experienced only dreamt about. For a temporary moment in time, which Robin Leach, host of Lifestyles of the Wealthy and Famous, would have celebrated, they partook of “champagne needs and caviar desires.”

As Guest Editors, they interviewed famous writers, creators and superstars, doing work tougher than they played with the understanding and hope they may well parlay this incredible expertise into total-time perform in their preferred fields. These gifted young girls integrated many long term luminary authors such as Joan Didion (all through Carol’s summer season), Anne Beattie, Francine du Plessix Gray, Gael Greene, Sue Kaufman and Sylvia Plath who notably drew on her encounters to write The Bell Jar. Design and actress Ali McGraw and vogue designer Betsey Johnson were being between other notable alumna.

Back in Minneapolis after the magical thirty day period finished, the younger Miss out on Spencer landed a career with the wholesale garment maker Wonderalls Enterprise as their children’s use designer wherever she was responsible for an full line of children’s outfits. Following a couple of decades there, she moved on to Junior Residence in Milwaukee, WI as a designer for “misses sportswear,” as the teenager marketplace was then called. In just a several several years she experienced realized all the things she could about materials, equipment, production designs and over-all procedure of the wholesale clothing manufacturing industry and was all set for a main improve when in 1962 she observed a blind ad in Women’s Have on Every day for a trend-designer/stylist.

By early 1963, Spencer had joined the Mattel style and design group and Barbie grew to become her Muse. She grew to become element of a crew of 4 ladies designers led by Charlotte Johnson, the initial head fashion designer given that 1959 when Barbie debuted. These mega-gifted developing girls came from a wide variety of backgrounds: Dorothy Shue started as a puppeteer in the movie field, Aileen Zublin had been a noted vogue designer in Switzerland and Kay Carter experienced worked as an assistant to MGM’s fabled movie wardrobe designer Adrian. They had been backed by assistants who have been topnotch professional seamstresses.

The windowless (to assist stop style piracy) capacious office was stocked with each imaginable type of cloth, trimmings and notions as properly as artwork textbooks and design and style reference elements. Fantasy, large style, haute couture and a remarkable flair abounded.  Carol Spencer defined her specialty then was to develop uncomplicated, practical American sportswear evoking “the indicating of genuine American style and design.”

Looking back at Carol Spencer’s life, it nearly appears to be her future was to turn into the main style designer and premiere influential creative designer at Mattel. She was present throughout the evolution of the small relatives held company to its enlargement into a multinational company giant for the duration of her almost 36 a long time with the firm. She was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in February, 2017. All through her career at Mattel, she retained abreast of trendsetting patterns traveling the earth to attend major couturier trend demonstrates in Paris, London, Milan and stateside in New York. Carol participated in international toy design fairs and also saved up-to-day by reading foremost vogue publications.

The 1980s were being a time of worldwide business journey for Spencer. She had already been a major designer for more than two decades and acquired her MBA when doing work comprehensive time. Carol designed numerous outings to Hong Kong to oversee a new line prior to being picked out for a two 12 months assignment heading up a new Hong Kong centered design and style section in 1988. Prior to this, she had confirmed her govt negotiating skills whilst based in Tokyo for 6 months performing with MA-BA (Mattel and Bandai Toys) on Japan’s Barbie dolls. For the duration of her stint in Hong Kong, she ongoing to style clothing strains.

Presented with a overwhelming problem though there, a laptop or computer malfunction experienced resulted in surplus material and components in many factories. Again in 1968 at Mattel Toyland headquarters, a similar challenge experienced transpired when 2500 in its place of 250 yards of deluxe white fabric striped with gold metallic threads had been unintentionally ordered. Some was employed to make a swimsuit with matching headband but the bulk of the materials languished in the warehouse.

The speedy pondering innovator came up with two classy outfits for night use a cocktail dress identified as “The Region Club Dance” and a long robe “Holiday Dance” that used all the continues to be and which became a long term sought following collectible. Rapid forward twenty several years to Hong Kong the place excess stock fully filled a few warehouses overflowing to two 40’ containers dockside.

Spencer’s ingenious option was to produce a big sequence of designs for low-cost outfits in uncomplicated packaging appropriate for look at-out counter impulse buys thus expending the overall stock prior to she returned to Southern California. Through the up coming decade she was honored as the very first Barbie manner designer to have her signature on the doll as perfectly as on packaging. She is credited for the creation of the greatest-providing Thoroughly Hair Barbie. Recognizing the prospective for a collector’s current market, Carol made the initial constrained-version Barbie spawning several others like the Hollywood Legends line.

Carol went on signing excursions and carries on to fulfill with Mattel Collector’s Golf equipment. Her fashion patterns can be discovered in many museums, including the Smithsonian Establishment.  Her opulent a single-of-a-variety Empress Sissy Barbie raised more than $50,000 in an auction to gain Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace.

Ruth Handler and her partner Elliot co-started Mattel Toys in 1945. There are two origin tales about the progress of the very first Barbie doll. The 1st is that the Handlers frequented an global toy trade clearly show in Germany and were being motivated by a German fashion doll named “Bild Lilli” or “Picture Lilly”, produced from 1952-1964. Returning home Ruth noticed their daughter Barbara playing animatedly with her paper dolls primary her to make a teenager-age doll named after her.  Most American manufactured dolls were being newborn dolls or toddlers like “Betsy Wetsy” or “Nancy Walker” dolls.

The primary Barbie was released in March 1959 and bought in excess of 351,000 dolls that year. “Ponytail Barbie” was an 18-12 months-old vogue design, possibly blonde or brunette who wore a black and white striped a person-piece swimsuit, black open-toe heels, hoop earrings and sunglasses. Retail price tag was $3. The revolution in toys experienced begun. Girls of all ages fell in like with Barbie. The doll is marketed in more than 150 nations around the world. A mint issue in the box very first year Barbie sold for over $27,000 in recent yrs and even well-beloved kinds may perhaps fetch $3-8,000.

Carol Spencer, together with the early and subsequent designers, have fired the creativity and impressed profession ambitions for a great number of little ones all over the world. Barbie was and carries on to be a floor-breaker demonstrating that ladies can thrive in professions previously limited to gentlemen. For instance, the 1st astronaut outfits debuted in 1964, 14 years right before the original six ladies astronauts were being preferred by NASA.

Around the years, Barbie has portrayed around 200 professions encompassing the fields of medication, athletics, army, politics, training, arts, media and enterprise among many others with greater emphasis on STEM professions in recent decades. While, she acquired a changing array of sisters, because 1961 Ken has been her boyfriend, whilst they have hardly ever married. He was named for the Handler’s son Kenneth. Barbie is an independent, self-reliant self-confident woman who has served as a shining instance of self-created success for generations of ladies. That is an accomplishment to be lauded.

Dressing Barbie is a celebration of America’s favorite doll and an excellent remembrance of Spencer’s daily life as a person of America’s finest fashion and doll designers. Her commitment sums it up: “I devote this e-book to the little one in all of us as we perform, dream and evolve. Delight in!” Might we normally be ready to retain youthful enthusiasm and imagination!

Publish Day: June 6, 2023

Genre: Nonfiction

Creator: Carol Spencer

Site Count: 160 internet pages

Publisher: Harper

ISBN: 9780063310919