Monday, February 29, 2016


Just when you thought it was safe to return to the blog—oh no! Oh yes! It's the Return of the Oscar Barbies!

Okay, one of these days, I'll decide I'm too cool to do this.

But this is not that day. The urge to dress up my collection of vintage Barbies as Academy Award nominees is proving to be a hard habit to break.

A lot depends of whether the nominees are visually interesting. Historical and fantasy costumes are the most fun to try to replicate, but you can't always depend on those actors scoring nominations. And while I used to try to confine myself to Best Actress nominees, sometimes I'll throw in a Supporting Actress nominee if she'll be extra fun to do.

Case in point: this year, I got to do both Alicia Vikander AND Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl! Who could resist?

Sadly, my Barbie wardrobe does not include any outfits from the 1920s, but I did have a kimono and a bohemian drape to swath them in. And it's all about the props anyway: a cigarette holder and a painter's palette. And with a Barbie-sized red wig I happened to have lying around, "Eddie" was good to go!

Carol was cause for happy-dance time in Barbie-land, since so many of my antique doll clothes are vintage 1950s. Both lead actresses scored nominations: Cate Blanchett for the extravagantly stylish Carol, and Rooney Mara, as the awed shopgirl and amateur shutterbug (notice her box camera) swept away by her.

(If you saw the movie, you'll understand the Santa hat.)

The only other nominees I decided to do were Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn (also set in the '50s), and Brie Larson in Room. I knew Larson would win, so I thought it would be churlish not to include her—even though modern-day outfits aren't nearly as much fun to do.

(Also, for those of you keeping score at home, I was 12 for 13 in my fearless and/or clueless Oscar predictions this year.

The only one I missed was Sylvester Stallone NOT getting a make-up Oscar for playing the aging Rocky Balboa in Creed—40 years (!) after he first introduced the character in the original Rocky. No one was probably more surprised than the elegant Mark Rylance, who scored the upset win for Bridge of Spies.)

Btw, slaving over a hot doll table for a couple of hours yesterday really made me appreciate the care and quality that went into the Barbie phenomenon when the doll was first launched ca. 1960.

Those early clothes have teeny tiny buttons the size of pin heads, miniscule hooks-and-eyes, inch-long zippers. It's a skills test manipulating them for a person of a certain age (like me), let alone for kids.

But that quality era didn't last long. In later years, items of Barbie clothing were made to be stepped into or pulled on overhead; their closures were snaps, not buttons.

This probably coincided with the era when all Barbie packaging went bubble-gum pink, and all accessories became plastic—no more cork soles in the wedgies; no more straw hats or handbags.

These days, Barbie clothes come in in neon colors, attached by Velcro. Except here, in the exclusive sorority of Oscar Barbies, where my collection of little Miss Havershams still get to wear their antique clothes, ever ready for their next close-up.

No comments:

Post a Comment