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New York Fashion Week: A yen for Ken, a beau for Barbie

February 24, 2011 |  1:02 pm

When it comes to a focus on fashion, Ken often gets the short end of the style stick. While Barbie has been lavished with a Malibu dream house, a Corvette and designer outfits by the likes of Giorgio Armani and Bob Mackie, Kenny C (his last name is Carson, just so you know) has had to suffer through unfortunate wardrobe choices that have included mesh T-shirts, cargo shorts and a pink tuxedo.Ken_wall2

Then, to add insult to injury, our boy Ken was unceremoniously cut out of the picture on St. Valentine's Day 2004, when the tiny couple decided to take time apart and Babs almost immediately took up with  an  Aussie surfer named Blaine. Shaving Fun Ken took it so hard that he could hardly lift plastic razor to plastic cheek to remove his faux five o'clock shadow.

But, in the lead-up to his 50th birthday (his official "birthdate" is March 11, 1961), his Q score has enjoyed a bit of a "Ken-naissance" -- he landed an acting gig in "Toy Story 3," he's appeared on billboards in Los Angeles and New York City (where he managed to wangle a Times Square Jumbotron appearance) professing his love for Barbie, and has been the golden ideal by which contestants are measured in a Web-only reality show hosted by Whitney Port and titled "Genuine Ken: The Search for the Great American Boyfriend."

And yes, the fashion community was even showing some love during New York Fashion Week -- even if it was with tongue firmly in plastic cheek.

Ken Collage1

On Feb. 13, Mattel, the Council of Fashion Designers of America and Christie's hosted "Menswear Meets Art," an exhibit that dressed half a dozen "Kens" in outfits by CFDA designers, and posed the models in front of art pieces from Christie's holdings.

The gallery was surprisingly packed, with members of the fashion flock noshing on teeny tiny tacos, bite-sized burgers and thimble-sized cones of French fries while posing for pictures with their favorite Ken -- which, judging by the line of giggling gals waiting for photo ops, was the bare-chested Beach Date Ken, who had been outfitted by Yigal Azrouël in denim utility shorts and a short sleeve cardigan and Ken_wall posed in front of an oil-on-canvas painting called "The Wave" by April Gornik.

Other Kens kitted out by menswear designers included Movie Date Ken (dressed by Robert Geller), Picnic Date Ken (dressed by Michael Bastian), Winter Date Ken (Billy Reid), Concert Date Ken (Nicholas K) and Formal Date Ken (Simon Spurr).

And it seems as if the new designer duds and recent interest in art might have helped Ken get his groove back -- or at least his gal, since the next day, exactly seven years after breaking up, it was announced that the couple had officially gotten back together.

Which means what Ken really needs to add to his wardrobe soon is a designer wedding tuxedo (we're thinking something cool but with roots in American sportswear -- like Thom Browne or Band of Outsiders).

And don't feel too sorry for Blaine -- we hear he's got a new gig modeling teeny tiny Ed Hardy T-shirts and trucker caps and is planning to take Midge back to the land down under for spring break.

-- Adam Tschorn

Photos: The "Menswear Meets Art" exhibit at Christie's in New York City on Feb. 13, including designer-dressed "Kens" in (top from left) Nicholas K, Yigal Azrouël and Billy Reid and (bottom center from left) Simon Spurr, Michael Bastian and Robert Geller, as well as Ken-related kitsch (second photo from top and bottom photo) . Credit: Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times.