Trade catalog:Barbie : teen-age fashion model


The Strong National Museum of Play

The Strong National Museum of Play
Rochester , United States

Introduced by Mattel Toys in 1959, Barbie embodied the quintessential American teenager. Mattel copyrighted this handbook of Barbie's extensive wardrobe, "The Teen-Age Fashion Model," a year before Barbie arrived on store shelves. Mattel's founders, Elliot and Ruth Handler, certainly knew how to inspire advance excitement for the new doll. Ruth Handler designed Barbie, encouraging little girls to dream of becoming stylish teenagers instead of modeling motherhood by playing with baby dolls. After the Great Depression and World War II, a fun-loving young-adult culture came into the limelight during the 1950s. Fashion, slumber parties, football games, and dances were all the rage, and Barbie's wardrobe reflected these new interests. Outfits mixed "Suburban Shopper" and "Barbie-Q" with the high style of "Evening Splendor" and "Gay Parisienne." To receive advance notice about Barbie's newest attire, one could send for the Barbie newsletter, a free monthly fashion report. Part of a massive and well-conceived marketing strategy, this catalog represents the start of Barbie's rise to toy stardom.


  • Title: Trade catalog:Barbie : teen-age fashion model
  • Date Created: 1958
  • Type: Advertising
  • Medium: paper, printed
  • Object ID: 101.4255

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