Famous designers like Trina Turk work with Barbie Collector designers to make their visions a reality. Our own Bill Greening took time out to share what it was like behind the scenes with Trina Turk during the creation of the Malibu Barbie by Trina Turk Collection!
Barbie Collector: You're so well known as a designer, but you're also an avid collector. Can you start by telling us when you first met the original Malibu Barbie®?
Bill Greening: I met Malibu Barbie back in the 70s. I have vague memories of the Barbie aisle in the Sears toy department. When I was younger I had my own Malibu Barbie, PJ, Francie®, and Skipper® and their pool party play set. Malibu Barbie and her friends are so iconic to the Barbie brand, and so reflective of teenagers of the early 70s having fun in the surf and sand.
What did you think when you heard about a new Malibu Barbie by Trina Turk project for Barbie Collector?
I knew as soon as I heard about the project I was very excited to be part of it. I have been a long time fan of the Trina Turk brand. I love her style. It often reminds me of many fashions from Barbie doll's 60s and 70s wardrobe. Needless to say when I heard about the project I jumped at the chance to work on it.
So, why now, and why her? Why is a new take on Malibu Barbie perfect for this moment?
Malibu Barbie doll is so iconic to the history of Barbie and especially for those who played with her like myself. I think it's awesome that Malibu Barbie is such a part of pop culture history. It’s fantastic that she inspires designers, like Trina, to design a collection inspired by Malibu Barbie as well as an updated doll version.
The original Malibu Barbie was a playline doll, and the new doll is anything but. How did Trina step it up to design a remarkable collectible doll?
Trina and her design team were amazing to work with. They had a clear view of what they wanted from the beginning. When they came in to visit Mattel we had a fun show-and-tell session. I pulled a lot of fun dolls, fashions, and accessories from the late 60s and early 70s from the Mattel archive. The prints on some of the dolls and fashions really reminded me of the Trina Turk brand. Trina and her team brought lots of items from their line: fashions, jewelry, hats, and bags. Of course her team showed us the “Malibu Gold” print (the main print on the new doll, fashions, and packaging), and my first words when I saw it was that's soooo Barbie!
How much did the original doll inspire the new doll? What does the new doll evoke of the past, and what new elements does she embody?
I think this doll has many historical elements of the original, but in an updated way. First off, she’s tan - that is most iconic to Malibu Barbie, maybe not as deep a tan as the original, but hey, it’s 2013. Like the original Malibu Barbie doll, she features a slight open mouth smile and a “natural look” make-up palette. This time around her hair is a more contemporary blonde and eyes more blue-green. Naturally she’s dressed in swimwear and features an updated version of her round bubble glasses. She also borrows a fun feature from the Sun Lovin’ Malibu Barbie doll from ’78 - tan lines! Take a little peek under her bikini, LOL!
Of course, it's not just the dolls that Trina designed, but the style-for-you items as well. Did you have a hand in the development process of those items, too?
Trina and her team worked very closely with the Barbie Consumer Products team. The higher end items are designed by Trina Turk and some of the other designs through our Consumer Products team. My favorite is Trina’s signature cuff bracelet done in Barbie 219 pink!
Tell us more about the doll, which features some really unique details. What are three of your favorite touches?
I have to confess, I really love the beach bag. It's mini work of art. I love the gold vinyl trim on the top edge and handle, the miniature Trina Turk logo charm hanging from the bag. Plus, it's fully lined in the Malibu Gold print. It’s details like this that make this doll a collector product. I also love the tan lines on the doll, a feature we haven’t seen since the 1970s. Lastly, the fun and funky beach sandals based on a vintage pair from Trina's own wardrobe. Fabulous! Oh, and I love the beach hat with the daisy trim and top stitching detail on the brim. It’s hard to narrow it down!
The packaging is fabulous, too! Especially for the NRFB collectors, can you talk about the development of the packaging design?
The package style is what we call a window cake box. Just like the packaging we used on the My Favorite Barbie line. The best part is you can lift off the lid if you want to examine the doll more closely without disturbing the contents. It's an awesome package with the Malibu Gold print wrapping around the exterior. The inside beach scene was taken from a Malibu Barbie paper doll book from the 1970s.
What was it like to work with Trina? What impressed you the most about her?
I think Trina had a really cool attitude about the project and had fun with it. Trina had a clear idea of what she wanted, and a clear vision is really important when working with another designer. Of course, they were very collaborative as well, and were also open to our suggestions because we are the doll experts. I would say it was a very happy marriage. Both camps seemed equally enthusiastic about the project.
Have you been in touch with her now that the project is complete? What has she said about the finished doll and lifestyle items?
Last I saw Trina was at the launch party for the doll and clothing line. It was held at Nobu in Malibu, CA. Very fitting place. It was a beautiful sunny day with lunch by the beach. The entire Malibu line was on display. Trina seemed very happy with the final doll and the look of the line. I shared with her what a fun project this has been, and she couldn’t agree more.
The original Malibu Barbie doll is a hard to find collector’s item, but now you can get the indelibly gorgeous Malibu Barbie by Trina Turk Doll for your own collection. Get her now, before she becomes a hard-to-find treasure, too!
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