The 65th Barbie Anniversary: Inspiration Through the Decades

The 65th Barbie Anniversary: Inspiration Through the Decades

By Matt Stevens

There’s so much to celebrate during Barbie’s 65th Anniversary — the countless collectible dolls and iconic fashion moments, the 250+ careers, the immeasurable impacts on generations of fans, and more. Throughout these many legendary milestones, one particular aspect epitomizes the Barbie history and legacy: inspiration.

Ruth Handler was famously inspired by her own daughter to create the Teenage Fashion Model Barbie Doll and debuted her at the New York Toy Fair in 1959. Taking the world by storm (the original influencer!), Barbie soon became a muse for a myriad of designers, celebrities, and sartorial elites — from Twiggy in the ’60s, to Oscar de la Renta and Andy Warhol in the ’80s, to Bob Mackie, Vera Wang, and Diane von Furstenberg in recent decades.

“Barbie represents the eras we live in and the best of pop culture,” says designer Bill Greening. “She is like a mini time capsule that I find fascinating if you study her history.”

Greening, who has created stylish designs for the diverse Barbie Looks collection, nostalgically driven vintage reproductions, and other exquisite Signature dolls, explains the Barbie inspiration this way: “She can truly be anything you want her to be. From the most ‘of the moment’ fashionable look or an over-the-top fantastical creation, the sky is the limit when you’re designing for Barbie.”

Since her extraordinary debut, Barbie has also inspired girls to imagine their futures in exciting new ways — and remains dedicated to helping them pursue their dreams. As part of this mission, The Barbie Dream Gap Project was established in 2018 to give girls the resources and support they need to believe in themselves and reach their full potential.

This commitment is also reflected in the Barbie Inspiring Women series, which pays tribute to incredible heroines of their time, courageous women who have paved the way for girls to dream bigger than ever before. Honoring their achievements while celebrating the power of representation, the collection has included such trailblazers as Rosa Parks, Anna May Wong, and Celia Cruz since it launched in 2018.

Barbie again rocked the world this past year with the phenomenal success of Barbie The Movie. Directed by Greta Gerwig, this blockbuster hit has not only dazzled millions of moviegoers but will also — along with Barbie Career of the Year Women in Film dolls — inspire more female filmmakers to pursue roles in an industry where women have been historically underrepresented.

As Barbie has proven, these amazing 65 years are only the beginning, and she’ll have a special and lasting influence on generations to come. As Greening says, “I think her longevity of being the most iconic fashion doll continues to inspire us all. From the moment we play with her as children, that ‘specialness’ lives on with us through adulthood. Fans of Barbie have been lifelong fans since children. She is truly the gold standard of a legacy brand.”

So thank you, Barbie, for the enduring legacy and invaluable inspiration. Because when we are inspired — to dream, to create, to express, to achieve, to become — our possibilities are indeed limitless.