August 29, 2012

All Set For Barbie® at the Convention!

By Chris Varaste

The effort that went into this year's National Barbie® Doll Collectors Convention was mindboggling! I'm still entranced by those spectacular Silkstone® Barbie dioramas in the grand ballroom of the Hyatt Regency!

From cityscapes to a magnificent train set, the attention to detail was astounding and took enormous effort to prepare. I spoke with Lars Auvinen, Mattel's very own set designer, who was also in charge of the dynamic presentation.

Atelier Set

Chris Varaste:Great job, Lars, how long did it take to set up all those props?

Lars Auvinen:Thank you! It was a long process that became an all-nighter. The Atelier warehouse afforded the biggest challenge, as it's a free floating set piece hanging from wires.

Gala Gown Barbie Set

CV:Was that the dramatic set with the stunning Gala Gown®Barbie and Walking Suit Barbie dolls?

LA:Yes—all of the miniature sets were built for specific photo shoots at Mattel. This year, the BFMC went back to its original roots—a Parisian atelier. The idea was to build all of the elements of a working atelier to tell the story of the collection. The viewer could move from the designer's studio into the designer's fitting room, then down the elevator into the sewing/tailoring room and finally into the dying vats/pattern making area. It was great to see some of the parts of the set moving, like the elevator, dolls and bubbling dye vats.

Parisian Metro Station

CV:Did you have to recreate anything?

LA: Yes, the Parisian metro station was in pieces and had to undergo extensive repairs to the roof and walls. The set also received a fresh coat of paint. Believe it or not, that set is almost 10 years old already…I'm glad we saved it!


CV: I loved the cityscape, was that Paris?

LA:Yes, the Parisian Street scene was created in 2006. The Parisian Street scene is an example of a forced perspective set. These sets are quite difficult to build, as every building, car, street prop, and doll must descend in scale as it moves further away from the camera.

Parisian Street

CV: Thank you, Lars, for years of eye-catching dioramas!

Lars Auvinen's outstanding work for the BFMC  is recognizable to most collectors. My fave has to be the Parisian metro station—what are some of yours?

Chris Varaste started out at ABC-TV, producing segments for the Emmys, Tonys & Grammys. A fascination with fashion and pop culture led to his first published book, Barbie: Face of the American Dream – and an appreciation for all things Barbie! His insights on collectibles/brand success have been published in the New York Times, The Economist, and Spotlight Cinema Networks.

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