Barbie's banner birthday bash in Malibu*
Most women would not approach their 50th birthday as enthusiastically as Barbara Millicent Roberts, but from the moment we rolled up to to her Malibu Dream House (off the PCH across from Zuma Beach), we knew the petite blond known around the globe as Barbie wasn’t going to be shy in celebrating the half-century mark.
The surreal experience began with the bright pink floral “B” on the gates, continued past the tricked-out custom VW Beetle convertible in the driveway –- complete with a pop-out vanity in the trunk and a bright pink engine block and dipstick -– down the pink carpet and into a 3,500-square-foot Malibu manse decorated to an eye-popping level of comfort-kitsch by interior designer Jonathan Adler.
Barbie’s wedding photos hang on one wall, a vintage Warhol print of her blondness on another. White ostrich feathers blossom from a circular couch, a chandelier of twisted blond Barbie hair (designed by “Project Runway” Season 4 contestant Chris March) hangs from the ceiling of the sitting room. A pair of pink plastic poodles flank a fireplace over which hangs a custom starburst mirror made from 65 Barbie dolls.
Curious guests opened kitchen cabinets (“Hey, Barbie has a fully stocked bar,” noted one partygoer. “She’s got full bottles of Ketel One and Dewar’s in here!”) and wandered through Barbie’s boudoir, which was draped to a cocoon-like effect with some 200 yards of fuchsia velvet.
At one point in the party, “Project Runway” host Heidi Klum posed for photographs in Barbie’s shoe closet –- from one hand dangled one of the 50 pair of pink, peep-toe Christian Louboutin heels that filled the shelves.
When we caught up with the designer, Adler told us that he’d been working on the project for about six months and had a blast doing so. He pointed out the starburst mirror made of reproduction 1959 Barbies in black and white zigzag bathing suits and the hair chandelier as two of his favorites. We asked about a certain someone who didn't seem to be reflected in the decor. “I’ve learned a lot about Barbie over the last couple of months,” Adler said with a smile. “And one of them is that yes, Ken is out there in Barbie’s world, but he’s certainly not calling the shots.”
Richard Dickson, general manager and senior vice president of the Barbie brand at Mattel, was among the attendees and he told us the partnership with Adler is part of “leading a cultural icon into the next chapter” –- expanding the fashion, art and design collaborations in new ways (the brand does $3 billion in wholesale business a year). So, in addition to getting a Facebook page, a Twitter account and a new style website, the doll born 50 years ago at the New York Toy Fair is marking the year with a “Barbie Loves Jonathan Adler” home decor collection — think pink lacquered boxes, trays and other Adlerian tchotchkes — is set to launch in September, and why much of the interior (including the custom-made “B” rugs, skirted, corseted chairs and vintage Barbie artwork — is headed to Las Vegas where it will re-create the look of the Dream House for a Barbie-themed suite at the Palms Casino, which is slated to open in May.
-- Adam Tschorn
P.S.: Look for photos of party guests "channeling their inner Barbie" in a web gallery to be posted later this week.
Her look through the decades
Photos from top: The gate, the engine block of the customized VW Beetle, the Barbie hair chandelier, a sunburst mirror made from reproduction Barbies, interior sitting room decor and a closet full of pink Louboutins. Credit: All by Adam Tschorn.
*NOTE: An earlier version of this post mistakenly listed Barbie’s name as Barbara Millicent Rogers.