BRANDING: Design Choice - Barbie

The 50s heralded a new age. For the first time, teenagers had their own fashions and life was more fun. The upbeat feel pervaded every aspect of life, particularly in the exciting new rock'n'roll music that transcended class barriers.

It was on this stage that Barbie, the world's most glamorous doll, made her first appearance in the final year of the decade. With long tapering limbs, an hourglass figure and distinctive platinum hair, Barbie was a far cry from the standard baby dolls available until then.

The fanciful shape of Barbie could never exist in the real world. Her feet are so small she would topple over, her waist so minuscule she would never be able to eat and her bust - well, let's just say it's large.

Yet Barbie is a design icon. Why? Because she has endured for nearly half a century in much the same guise as her creator, Ruth Handler, intended.

She is currently sold in more than 150 countries around the world, with sales of one every second.

She continually reinvents herself and changes shape to mirror the fashion and taste of the day. Parents may object to their children seeing Barbie as a role model, but her continuing popularity and aspirational quality cannot be denied.

Just a thought: maybe one day they will launch Divorce Barbie, which comes with Ken's house, Ken's car and Ken's boat.


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