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"Barbie should really be about fashion and current design," says James Slade. The acrylic-and-steel cases lining the staircase house more than 800 dolls wearing a variety of outfits to "reflect the idea of the collection." | Photographs by Andrew Rowat

Inside Barbie's Fun House

Girl has a new dream house! With a flagship shop in Shanghai, the American idol reveals her emerging-market ambitions.

Come on, Barbie, let's go ... shopping! For the doll's 50th birthday this year, corporate parent Mattel wrapped up a whopper of a present: Barbie's first-ever flagship store. The six-story, 35,000-square-foot House of Barbie in Shanghai, designed by New York's Slade Architecture, "is the first physical representation of the new chapter of Barbie," says Richard Dickson, senior VP of the brand. It's a timely project. With U.S. sales down in recent years, Mattel hopes Barbie will take off in emerging markets like China, where she really is a fresh face. The retail space's design reflects her ambition to be more than a plaything — House of Barbie also has apparel, a beauty salon, and a café. "Mattel wanted to raise the experience to the level of a flagship fashion store, as opposed to a flagship toy store," says architect James Slade. The message: Life in plastic? It's fantastic.

"Barbie should really be about fashion and current design," says James Slade. The acrylic-and-steel cases lining the staircase house more than 800 dolls wearing a variety of outfits to "reflect the idea of the collection." | Photographs by Andrew Rowat

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2 Comments

  • dav visina

    China is likely to be an enormous market for the doll, even with the £25 price tag of the Shanghai Barbie doll, an exclusive model that will only be available in the new store. The cost of the doll is an entire week's salary for a factory worker.