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Barbie ‘first client’ of world’s biggest male and female fashion designers

Barbie has been hailed as the “first client” of some of the world’s most famous male and female fashion designers.

The Mattel doll, created by the company in 1959, became a mini-mannequin for millions of budding designers who would make their own designs for it, and the curator of a new show celebrating the toy says its contribution to the fashion world cannot be underestimated.

Danielle Thom told The Guardian about the showcase at London’s Design Museum, which will open on 5 July: “A number of fashion designers have said Barbie was their first client.

“Martin Margiela (founder of his titular French luxury fashion house) talks at length about as a teenager playing with his sister’s Barbies and making clothes for them.

“Jeremy Scott, the former creative director at Moschino, did an entire ready-to-wear catwalk collection in 2015 – we want to show some archived looks from that show. We’re in conversation about that.

“Barbie’s been used to influence real fashion bodies. For me it was always about the clothes.”

The Barbie exhibit will feature more than 180 dolls including the rare first edition known as ‘Number 1 Barbie, while dozens of original Barbie outfits will also be on show that demonstrate the doll’s origins in fashion.

Its looks – which were copied by Margot Robbie, 33, when she walked red carpets to promote her 2023 ‘Barbie’ film – include the ‘Poodle Parade’, a lifesize replica of which was worn by Billie Eilish, 22, when she performed at the Grammys this year.


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