The Museum of Cultures in Milan dedicates an exhibition to Barbie. The popular doll that accompanied the childhood of many girls, becoming a myth: Barbie The Icon. The exhibition, curated by Massimiliano Capella, produced by Sole 24 Ore Magazine and sponsored by the City of Milan in collaboration with Mattel, will remain at MUDEC until 13 March 2016.
The exhibition consists of 448 pieces, including a model designed exclusively for the Museum of Cultures. Barbie MUDEC, designed by Magia 2000 Limited Edition is a tribute to the museum and it is presented here for the first time. The silk dress features the logo of the museum and is completely hand embroidered with sequins, beads and Swarovski crystals. The cloak is also a recall to the architecture of MUDEC, airy and bright. This Barbie was made in two versions, Caucasian and African-American.
The exhibition is divided into five sections more an introductory room: Who is Barbie ?
Who is Barbie?
That is the issue behind the success of a toy that stands as a little woman and not just a consumer product. Barbie Millicent Roberts, zodiac lion, daughter of Robert and Margaret Roberts has a strong realistic position. Barbie The Icon tells the myth of Barbie and of her ideal world that has been able to go beyond geographical, racial, cultural and social limits since 1959, date of its creation.
In the first room we immediately find seven iconic pieces representing Barbie during different decades; the exhibition then continues with a time-line of the history of Barbie, and with a comparison between Barbie’s models and real life and costumes in the times of each model. We find the famous Barbie n. 1 from 1959. Barbie wears here the famous black and white jersey swimsuit, hoop earrings and black heels sandals. The outfit perfectly identifies the taste of those years. Another example is Totally Hair Barbie, from 1992, characterized by long platinum blonde hairs and a minidress with colorful patterns inspired by Emilio Pucci. And how not to be enchanted by the whole Barbie Basics collection, created by Mattel designer Bill Greening in 2009, in which Barbie wears basic fashion items that every woman has in her wardrobe; here Barbie is more realistic and we almost forget she’s only a doll.
The exhibition continues with five rooms that are about the social identity of Barbie.
The first room is Barbie and fashion designers and it wants to show how fashion designing is connected to Barbie. Barbie models, located on a little catwalk, perfectly show the trends of fashion from the sixties to today. Fashion designers like Bob Mackie, Vera Wang, Armani and Dior designed outfit for Barbie. A wide assortment of items are showed, including the famous Dior dress with narrow shoulders jacket and wide black pleated skirt: the New Look of 1947.
The second room has the shape of Barbie House: houses, furniture, boats, cars, campers and other gadgets are located in this room: they represent a glimpse of trends and aspirations of the society of which Barbie was a member. But Barbie has also strong ideological contents aimed to spread environmental and social messages. The third room, Barbie and careers, shows us Barbie’s aspirations and her high ideals. Here Barbie is dressed as an Alitalia’s flight assistant, or a NASA astronaut or a McDonald’s employee. Barbie has always encouraged children of every generation to follow their dreams.
In the fourth room, Barbie in the world, Barbie changes skin, hair, clothes and interprets the many different ethnicities of the world.
Barbie the Icon
In the very last room, Queens, Dive and Celebrities, Barbie puts in the shoes of the protagonists of the contemporary age. Barbie so embodies legendary figures of history, from Cleopatra to Elizabeth I and Marie Antoinette, but also Hollywood legends, as Scarlett O’Hara, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz or Mary Poppins, and modern stars like Cher, Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor, Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn.
This is undoubtedly an exhibition which allows us to relive that shocking pink word of Barbie; a world made of endless wardrobes, of luxurious villas, fabulous yachts and Ferrari, but also of a thousand different careers, looks and nationalities, myths and legends.