Barbie, no warts and all, comes to Paris

Updated: 2016-03-18 08:27


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Barbie, no warts and all, comes to Paris

A Barbie doll at an exhibition at Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Paris.[Photo/ Agencies]

For decades, Barbie has encouraged girls to reach for the stars, showing them through her endless reinventions that anything is possible.

Now the girl who beat Neil Armstrong to the moon has brought a lifetime of fine outfits and accessories to Paris to show them off to the world at the city's Musee des Arts Decoratifs.

Though in many ways Barbie has lived a charmed life, she has also been dogged by controversy-notably because girls could never hope to grow into her impossibly slender body shape.

Magazine covers from the 1960s down the decades are juxtaposed with the Barbie of the day, showing how closely she has been in step with each passing fad.

"Barbie was a mirror of her time," says the exhibit's curator, Anne Monier, adding that the show offers a "cultural timeline" through the countless iterations of the iconic American miss.

It is not Barbie's first trip to France-in 1984 she toured the country aboard a high-speed train, wearing fashions by leading Paris fashion houses, including Yves Saint Laurent.

That tour was the brainchild of jewelry designer BillyBoy, a muse of pop artist Andy Warhol who boasted the largest collection of Barbie dolls in the world-20,000 of them.

The Paris exhibit, which opened on March 10, contains no fewer than 700 Barbie dolls, the all-time best-selling product of US toymaker Mattel, dating back to 1959.

While it seems she cannot hold down a job for long, Barbie has built up an impressive CV, dabbling variously as a flight attendant, surgeon and police officer.

On one outing as an astronaut, Barbie stepped on the moon even before Neil Armstrong-at least in the Universe according to Mattel.

The leggy blonde has even run for president no fewer than four times, maintaining her sunny disposition despite never reaching the Oval Office.

And while smashing gender stereotypes in the world of work, Barbie's ultra-feminine persona is never in doubt when it is time for play, whether for a day at the beach, an afternoon at the gym or an evening out in a designer gown.

But beneath the veneer of glamorous go-getter lurks an ambiguous figure combining girl power with sex object, and one with a body shape that is literally unattainable: to-scale models have proven that her legs and feet would be unable to hold her up.

But this year Mattel has addressed the body issue head-on, rolling out three new silhouettes: "tall", "petite" and "curvy".

"Now can we stop talking about my body?" was the headline on a Time magazine cover highlighting the new lines.

The choices also include no fewer than 27 skin tones, 22 eye colors and 24 types of hair.

The show runs until Sept 18.