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Barbie's Big 4-0

A New Book Traces the Pop Icon's Wardrobe and Family Tree

November 03, 1998|BOOTH MOORE

Barbie burst upon the American toy scene in March 1959, and in a world where celebrity often runs in 15-minute cycles, she's one blond bombshell who has endured.

In celebration of her 40th birthday comes "Barbie: Four Decades of Fashion, Fantasy and Fun (Abrams, $19.95). The illustrated biography charts the evolution of this feminine symbol of mythic stature who stands a mere 11 1/2 inches tall.

Author Marco Tosa delves only briefly into the sticky sociological implications of the icon with the impossible figure, instead favoring a light narrative style with lots of splashy photos.

Since fashion is at the heart of this fantasy, Barbie models much of her extensive wardrobe, which has over the years included ensembles by Christian Dior, Coco Chanel, Donna Karan and others.

Also of note is the book's Barbie Family Tree, indispensable for tracing the genealogy of the clan from boyfriend Ken's arrival in 1961, to dozens of friends, relatives and pets such as Horse Dancer in 1971, Mitzi Meow and Puppy Ruff in 1994.

A chart of Barbie's professions tracks her from a teenage fashion model in the famous black-and-white striped bathing suit that first displayed her bodacious bod in 1959 to more ambitious career paths such as astronaut in 1965 and summit diplomat in 1990.

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