Trying to put my thoughts & ideas down somewhere and give another outlet to my creativity. It's all connected, so I can't say it's a blog about just this or just that. Dolls. Fashion. Art. A little bit on travel, whatever... let's take it wherever it goes...


A trip down the 80s memory lane: scary fashions & Oscar de la Renta

So here I am again. After nothing happening for months, my Barbie collection has been positively exploding lately...

First, a good friend of mine asked me if I was interested in having some of her childhood Barbie stuff, after she cleaned out her attic. Of course I was - or I wouldn't be me ;-). So a parcel arrived with some things I remember well from back in the 80s and things I had coveted but never got... I've mentioned it before, I love those neon-colored, over-the-thop Barbie and the Rockers outfits. I loved them back in the day and I still do. It was just so far away from anything I was ever allowed to wear. And I loved neon colors, period. So here they are, from Barbie's first year as a Rocker: Derek and DeeDee!
Yes, that was the year that Ken was supplanted in Barbie's favors by Derek... nobody knows what's happened, but this pre-dates the whole Barbie & Blaine "scandal" by almost 2o years! And nobody cared a bit about it!
When she arrived, DeeDee was actually in dire need of a visit to the hairdresser:
So I went through the "classic" treatment. If you're not "into" Barbie dolls, you probably wonder how that works... First up: the hairwash. Just a good cleanse, best do it all over, no just the hair. Normal dishwashing liquid is all it needs. Next: a good conditioner. In the case of synthetic hair, fabric softener is actually the thing it needs. Dilute some in a small bowl of water, and let her hair soak in it a bit. Then comes the combing - always the thing that takes the most patience. Take a sturdy comb, not too fine, not too big, and comb the hair in small sections, from the head - and hold her by the hairline, so as not to pull out any hair (but 80s and newer Barbies are usually well-rooted and there's not a great possibility to pull out much). After that, the hair is combable but still "fluffy" because it's still a bit curly. There's only one thing against that: straighten it out! Any straightening or curling that is permanent has to be done with hot water (any kinds of straightening or curling irons would burn this hair - only the old Ashton-Drake Gene dolls have hair that takes styling with irons - hot water isn't enough in that case). Straightening is best done by poring the freshly boiled water over the dolls head, while she's sitting. Just be careful with that hot water! Then, comb the wet hair down again, and you should get shiny, glossy, straight hair that is no problem to comb through:
But of course, DeeDee wants her curls back! So, time for a perm. Basically, you can use anything as a roller for doll's hair that can take boiling hot water and that the hair can be fixed in place with. The best thing: disposable drinking straws, cut into shorter pieces. Household paper, torn into small bits and moistened works as "end paper" so the ends of the hair won't slip out. Roll up from the end, and fix with pins, through the "roller" and the head. Yup, sounds brutal, but I find this is one of the best ways! Depending on how big or small the strands that you roll up are, the curls get bigger or smaller.
And then... just one more step of fixin' this, take a big enough piece of saran wrap, cover the doll's head with it and fix it around her neck with a rubber band. Sounds brutal, I know, but that helps to keep the rolled up hair nicely in place. Water will still seep in, but that's okay. Boil more water, pour it into a big enough bowl and submerse the doll's head in it completely. Leave for 5-10 Minutes, take out, take the saran off and let it cool and set as it for 24 hours. Then... take the curlers out, un-curl carefully, and style as you like:
If you want to, spray gently with some hair spray (but cover her face with a tissue first).

I admit, I like doing this - giving these dolls a "new life", even if they're not highly valuable vintage dolls.

Now with the dolls also came some outfits, which I decided to present on my newest model - one of the Barbie Basics dolls. I love her cool short hairstyle, though that was so caked in "concrete" that I had to give it a double wash first! Okay, with that ModelMuse body of hers, she's way too thin for those 80s clothes, so I had to pin them in the back, but she does make them look great (mostly)!
First up: a colorful little leisure outfit.
Next: a sexy little number in baby pink.

Now, it gets a lilttle scary...
This is one of those Twice as Nice outfits that always featured at least one part that could be turned around for a change of color. This here looks like a rather scary secretary outfit. But I remember my then best friend having it and I just had to have it for memory's sake.
Somehow I find this combo even scarier...
And this is the way that I think it actually looks kinda cute. Kind of a "super housewife"-look.

And now, if you haven't been scared away from the screen by crazy color combos, let me show you the really good 80s stuff. Yep. Not all 80s fashion was bad, and here I have actually one of the best 80s Barbie outfits ever. Nowadays, designers seem to stand in line to have their signature Barbie doll designed. Way back in mid-80s, Mattel began to test the waters with first collectors series (the first collector conventions having been held in the early 80s, this was just sort of beginning to be recognised I guess) - and having a "real fashion" designer do something for them. And that was - Oscar de la Renta! In 1985, 4 "Collector Series" outfits by Mr. de la Renta were sold, and in the following year, another 5. They were all very glamourous (and very 80s) but beautiful as well. Jewel-tone, strong colors - with a lot purples, reds, pinks and deep blues and a dash of gold or silver - were chosen, and each year, one outfit featured exchangable parts for two or more looks. Most of them had an added stole, jacket or cape, and all had a sewn-in label with Mr. de la Renta's signature logo. I had two of these as a child, one survived my childhood as it was a perennial favorite - and since a few years, I have been collecting them. Well, not exactly hunting for them, but when I came across one, I'd buy it. The lastest addition to this small collection is the one I've been wanting the most, because it's so timeless - and "real". This is no Barbie-pink-over-the-top-phantasy, but something you could just imagine a real woman wearing. And it is versatile too!

First combination: a yellow and golden camisole top with matching straight jacket, black slender velvet skirt with a high slit - and black sheer pantyhose (yes, the were part of the outfit!).
Second combo: with black velvet slacks and a black fur stole .

And here's a quick look at my little de la Renta collection:
The blue one is the one that survived my childhood. The fuchsia one on the left is the other one I had, but later gave away. It also has a long slim taffeta skirt to exchange with the short, ruffly one, and a wide golden sash with a pink rhinestone to accent that dropped waist. The balloon dress on the right actually has a backless top under that incredible jacket.

On my last trip to New York, while hurrying up 7th Avenue to find a pharmacy, I came across the Fashion Walk of Fame plaque for Oscar de la Renta, and the sketch on it immediately reminded me of those ruffled, shirred Barbie dresses by him:

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