Barbie Fashion: A Rich History of Iconic Elegance

The birth of Barbie fashion

Ltwid wants to give you a rich exploration of Barbie fashion history. A timeless icon of elegance and fashion, Barbie has captured the hearts of millions around the world since her creation in 1959. Her extraordinary evolution over the years and the lasting impact she has had on popular culture.

Historical context and customs on Barbie

In the vibrant landscape of post-war America, Ruth Handler, co-founder of Mattel, recognised the need for a new kind of doll that would inspire boundless imagination and empower girls. Inspired by the German Bild Lilli doll, Handler introduced Barbie Millicent Roberts to the world on 9 March 1959, at the American International Toy Fair in New York.

From her birth Barbie Fashion revolutionised the toy industry with her unique approach to fashion. Unlike the traditional dolls of the time, Barbie was not limited to the role of little girl or boy. She embraced a mature persona, acting as a role model for young girls, embodying independence, confidence and ambition.

As Barbie’s popularity grew, Mattel recognised the immense potential for expanding the Barbie universe beyond dolls. In 1961, boyfriend Ken Carson made his debut, followed by a diverse cast of friends and family, including Skipper, Stacie and Chelsea. This expansion allowed little girls to create rich narratives and explore various relationships, further fuelling their imaginations.


Auction Barbie:

When it comes to Barbie auctions, the prices can vary significantly depending on factors such as the rarity, condition, and desirability of the specific Barbie doll or item being auctioned. While it is challenging to pinpoint the “best” price results in Barbie auctions due to the constant fluctuations in the market, there have been notable instances where Barbie dolls fetched substantial amounts. Here are a few examples:

  • Barbie #1: The very first Barbie doll, known as Barbie #1, is highly sought after by collectors. In 2020, an extremely rare Barbie #1 doll in mint condition, with its original packaging and accessories, was sold at auction for over $27,000.
  • Barbie Pink Splendor: Released in 1996, the Barbie Pink Splendor doll is renowned for its elaborate and glamorous ball gown. In 2019, a Barbie Pink Splendor doll in pristine condition sold at auction for around $3,500.
  • Original Barbie Fashion Sketches: Original fashion sketches created by the legendary fashion designer Charlotte Johnson, who worked on Barbie’s fashion line in the 1960s, are highly coveted by collectors. In 2021, a collection of seven original Barbie fashion sketches by Charlotte Johnson fetched over $5,000 at auction.
  • Limited Edition Collaborations: Limited edition collaborations with renowned fashion designers or iconic brands have also achieved impressive prices at auction. For example, a Barbie doll designed by the famous fashion designer Bob Mackie was auctioned for approximately $4,500 in 2018.

It’s important to note that these examples represent exceptional cases, and the majority of Barbie dolls and items sold at auctions typically range in price from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars, depending on their rarity and condition

Evolution of Barbie’s fashion:

From her first ensemble, a black and white striped swimming costume paired with distinctive red lips, Barbie Fashion’s wardrobe evolved exponentially. Collaborating with renowned designers and incorporating global fashion trends, Barbie became a trendsetter, sporting iconic outfits that reflected the ever-changing styles of each era.

Barbie’s fashion trends have evolved over the years, reflecting the ever-changing styles and influences of the fashion world. 

We mention a few:

1950s Barbie: from its inception, Barbie in those years merely emulated the classic American housewife, but soon this stereotype of the perfect woman came to an end, giving birth to a strong resourceful woman full of character.

Classic elegance: Barbie has always embodied timeless elegance. From her earliest years, she sported classic fashion elements such as sophisticated evening dresses, tailored suits and chic accessories such as pearls and gloves. These timeless pieces continue to be iconic representations of Barbie’s fashion heritage.

The Swinging Sixties: In the 1960s, Barbie embraced the mood fashion movement that swept the world. She sported bold prints, mini dresses and bright colours, channelling the youthful spirit of the era. Barbie’s fashion choices reflected the cultural shift and growing influence of youth culture in fashion and the desire for fun with friends in the outdoors.

Boho Chic: Barbie’s fashion adapted to the bohemian trends of the 1970s. She wore flowing maxi dresses, fringed waistcoats, floppy hats and platform shoes, capturing the free and relaxed essence of the boho style.

Barbie’s 80s: Jumpsuits and shoulder pads brought power dressing to the forefront and Barbie embraced the trend with gusto. She sported bold, structured dresses, oversized blazers and flashy shoulder pads, embodying the confidence and assertiveness associated with that era.

90s red carpet glamour: Barbie has always had an affinity for red carpet glamour. She wore gorgeous evening gowns embellished with sequins, rhinestones and luxurious fabrics. These glamorous looks emulated the haute couture and elegance of the Hollywood elite.

2020s: Inclusivity and diversity are the masters In recent years, Barbie has embraced inclusivity and diversity in its fashion choices. It offers dolls with different body types, skin tones and hairstyles, ensuring that all little girls can see themselves represented in Barbie’s fashion world.

Barbie’s fashion trends are influenced by real-world fashion shows, cultural movements and the creativity of designers collaborating with Mattel. Barbie’s ability to adapt and showcase different fashion trends has consolidated her status as a global fashion icon, inspiring generations of young fashionistas.

Collaborations with fashion houses:

One of the most important collaborations that had a significant impact on Barbie Fashion’s wardrobe was with the world-renowned fashion house Casa Versace. In 2004, Barbie had the privilege of wearing customised outfits created by Donatella Versace herself. These exquisite ensembles showcased the iconic Versace style, characterised by bold prints, bright colours and luxurious fabrics.

In addition to Versace, Barbie has collaborated with numerous other esteemed designers, including Oscar de la Renta, Christian Dior, Vera Wang, Calvin Klein, Bob Mackie and Ralph Lauren. 

One in particular is sold on Markeplace 1stdbis the Givenchy one

These collaborations allowed Barbie to embody the latest fashion trends and maintain her status as a fashion icon for generations.

Importantly, Barbie’s fashion has always been a reflection of contemporary styles and her outfits have often reflected the prevailing trends of the time. Therefore, as fashion evolves, Barbie continues to collaborate with established and emerging designers to stay at the forefront of the ever-changing fashion landscape.

Soon to be released in cinemas, the film Barbie directed by Greta Gerwig is a colourful tribute in full Barbie style. 

For sure this film will be iconic and we will remember it for many years!


If you absolutely want to dress up in her style we recommend some exciting outfits that are unmistakably a Barbie icon!

Gianni Versace Fuchsia Floral One Shoulder Dress

Fabulous one-shoulder short dress designed by Gianni Versace in the 1990s


Pierre Cardin Pink Coat 1960

Lightweight wool coat by Pierre Cardin circa 1960 from the famous designer's more modernist period in the early 1970s.