November 10, 2011

Francie® has got IT!

By Chris Varaste 

What I love most about Barbie's MODérn cousin Francie is her dual nature!

More than just sugar and spice, her polarity has to do with the zeitgeist of the times. Debuting at the height of the MOD era, Francie® is equal parts coy and daring, conservative and wild — a combination of wholesome Sandra Dee and trendy British supermodel Twiggy! Her identity as the girl-next-door made it safe to stray into the psychedelic realm of Carnaby Street style.

On a fashion joy-ride, Francie oscillated between looks ranging from small-town sweetie to posh hipster with an endless supply of fabulous accessories. Check out her vastly different wardrobe selections from the late sixties — coquettish in one offering (Summer Frost, above right), and futuristic chic in the Paco Rabanne-inspired Silver Cage (above, center) in another.

Akin to capturing lightning in a bottle, Francie was a hit upon introduction in the spring of '66 — no easy feat for the younger cousin of a world-renowned teenage fashion model, Barbie®! Her instant popularity accelerated the release of a second fashion line with a seasonal tie-in: New! Francie Fall Collection! For this selection, Mattel's design team opened the Mod-gates and immersed their bestseller in avant-garde style with a touch of schoolgirl innocence. Francie Fairchild was both doll and Pop Art!

Aside from her dueling fashion personas, Francie's other IT factor is her face, channeling the 'waif' look made popular by fresh newcomers like Mia Farrow and Warhol sensation Edie Sedgwick.

I once remarked on her lovely doe eyes to the publisher of a doll magazine who responded with great authority, "Hers is one of the most beautiful faces ever created!"

That pretty face now graces a pair of very special Silkstone® Francie dolls. The new Check, Please! Francie® Doll, dressed in a red and white checked suit (so Francie!), walking her adorable poodle is a Barbie® Collector dealer exclusive! The second is the BarbieSM Fan Club exclusive Nighty Brights Francie® Giftset , available now in the online shop. (For current BFC members only, of course.)

Got a fave Francie in your collection? Write back and tell us about her!


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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