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Barbie's wardrobe celebrated at Fashion Week bash

Barbie threw open the sparkly, pink doors of her dream closet to rock a party she hosted for her fellow fashionistas.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Barbie threw open the sparkly, pink doors of her dream closet to rock a party she hosted for her fellow fashionistas.

She (well, actually the Mattel marketing machine that has kept Barbie dolls a bestselling toy for more than a half-century) hired a DJ to keep the beat and made sure the drinks flowed Friday night as models — the real-life kind — worked the balconies of a Lincoln Center atrium dressed in some of Barbie's watershed looks.

Guests mingled alongside a wall of pink-heeled pumps or stood before large computer screens to virtually rummage through the 53-year-old icon's wardrobe, from career to couture. The technology produced parting gifts of photos for her New York Fashion Week friends to preserve their Barbie moments.

The dream closet tech was a demonstration of what kids can do at home on their own computers if they visit and have webcams.

"Everything's awesome. I picked a pink dress. I have it at home," said 7-year-old Amiri Small, who attended the packed party with her dad and 11-year-old sister, Leila.

Dad was clearly enjoying the dad points he racked up for making it past Barbie's sparkly pink door rope and onto her pink carpet.

There were plenty of Barbie moments to go around among the crowd.

Steven Stolman, president of the home decor and accessories line Scalamandre, is known more for his signature zebra prints than the Barbie he was asked to style as a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America several years ago. He chose a little black number.

"We tracked it down in a Target in Milwaukee," said Stolman, whose two older sisters were Barbie fans growing up.

Among girls growing up with Barbie, who didn't spend at least some time during the impressionable years styling or dyeing the doll's hair? But what did Stolman do?

What brothers are supposed to, of course: "I used to pull Barbie's head off."

Stephanie Cota, Barbie's senior vice president of marketing, has been rolling out her gal at Fashion Week for several years. There was a runway show in 2009 for the doll's 50th anniversary, featuring outfits by 50 designers who included Vera Wang, Diane von Furstenberg and Calvin Klein.

"What better way to celebrate a fashion icon than here at Fashion Week," Cota said.

It was Ken's turn last year. The Babs boyfriend was feted at Fashion Week in looks by Rag & Bone, Yigal Azrouel and others.

In all, 75 couture designers have outfitted Barbie over the years. Cota and her Mattel crew were loaded with Barbie tidbits: There's a "Barbie Pink" Pantone color and more than 1 billion outfits produced for her since she first hit stores as a "teenage fashion model" in 1959 wearing a black-and-white zebra stripe swimsuit.

Barbie also has a shoe collection to die for with thousands of the tiny things that parents with vacuum cleaners love to hate.

On loan for the party from the city's Albright Fashion Library were Barbie-inspired outfits worn by human models representing Barbie's passage through the decades. One was 1959 Barbie in her first swimsuit, done by Liza Bruce, and another was "Black Barbie" of 1980 in an Alexander McQueen jewel-collared red wrap jersey dress.

Dolce & Gabbana did "CEO Barbie" proud with a double-breasted wool gabardine suit in, you guessed it, pink.

And what about the controversy over whether Barbie and her perfect figure promote an unattainable body image for young girls?

"The same could be said for the entire fashion industry," observed Stolman.