January 7, 2014

The Best of the Best!

By Chris Varaste

In the 1990s, I worked as a gallery director in Soho — an amazing time for art lovers investing in work by (among others) Warhol, Peter Max, and Jeff Koons (suddenly the Koons was mine!).

During this period, the craft of printmaking broadened access to limited-edition prints, giving collectors an opportunity to add to their cherished art portfolios. As Barbie® collectors can relate, it’s always a coup when we add a new treasure to our valuable doll collections! 

For Christmas a couple of years ago, a great friend gifted me with a series of Robert Best Barbie sketches, and I got the best of both worlds! The silkscreen prints are a combination of my two favorite collectibles — art and Barbie! Even before the talented fashion designer started his prolific career at Mattel, I'd long admired Robert Best’s beautiful artwork. His illustrations always caught my eye due to his signature style — elegant lines benefiting from a minimal use of color. In the future, I'd love a book of his art, but fortunately, I can still appreciate his latest creations.

This year, Best has drawn a new set of fashion illustrations featuring Barbie at her glamorous best! The series includes a seated diva in a sumptuous white gown (Sketch #1) and a fabulous rendering of an undecided beauty shopping for shoes (Sketch #2). There’s also a stunning minx in the Barbie Silkstone fashion, Walking Suit (Sketch #3), and a nonchalant blonde, a dazzling tiara over her chignon, in a regal black gown (Sketch #4). Each limited-edition piece has that unmistakable Best touch — the statuesque model in a striking ensemble with delicate details that create a dreamlike fantasy. A certificate of authenticity is also included.

Robert's art is a significant part of the packaging of his popular Barbie dolls. Think back (because there have been many) and tell us which sketches you love most!


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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