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Barbie fashion

Barbie fashion

May 13, 1964: Charlotte Johnson, director of fashion for the highly successful Barbie doll, works in a world of one-sixth scale clothing.

Barbie, first introduced by Mattel in 1959, was a major sales hit – especially the related fashions.

Los Angeles Times staff writer Julie Byrne reported on Barbie fashion:

Leprechauns, menehunes, elves and their ilk had better look to their laurels. America has come up with her version of “little people” who are fast proving that fact is stranger than folklore.

The best a leprechaun can do is produce a pot of gold. But Barbie, the people-type doll, is responsible for a multi-million dollar business.

Comparisons don’t stop at the financial area either. While the menehunes of Hawaii are reputed to accomplish prodigious deeds in very short order…Barbie’s list of achievements fall into the Horatio Alger class.

“Barbie’s clothes have made us the largest manufacturer of ready-to-wear in the world,” revealed Barbie’s alter ego, Charlotte Johnson, who is director of fashion for this Oscar-size doll.

Fashion is the catalyst that has turned a doll into a 20th-Century phenomena.

Five full-time fashion designers, all from the California and New York garment industry, work under Miss Johnson’s direction to keep Barbie dressed in the height of fashion….

These Lilliputian clothes are made exactly one-sixth scale of regular adult sizes…and this is no easy trick. “Even the width of a pencil line can throw a pattern off-scale,” said Miss Johnson.

Not only tiny shoes, gloves, jewelry, buttons are made to scale, but also any other item like telephones, typewriters and furniture are treated to the same exacting manner.

The portrait above of Charlotte Johnson, by former Times staff photographer Nelson Tiffany, accompanied the Byrne article.

Tiffany also shot the image below to help illustrate the Barbie doll craze. He coaxed this dalmation, owned by Times staff photographer Wayne Kelly, by placing a hidden bit of chewing gum on Barbie. Tiffany placed his Rollei-flex on the sidewalk to get this low-angle shot.

Sparky, a dalmation, takes an active interest in Barbie. Credit: Nelson Tiffany/Los Angeles Times

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