By Susan O'Neill Posted March 17, 2009, 2:20 PM EDT
TORONTO Furniture bearing Barbie's pony-tailed silhouette, earrings in the shape of black stiletto heels, and Wellington boots adorned with the doll's image—in pink, of course—are just some of the items for sale at Canada's first Barbie Signature Shop. Launched by Mattel on Monday—just hours before Canadian designer David Dixon presented a Barbie-inspired collection to open LG Fashion Week—the pop-up store will house collectible dolls, Dixon's designs, and a furniture line created by his brother Glenn Dixon. The shop, on the main floor of the Bay's flagship store on Queen Street, will be open for the next two months.
“In Canada we always wanted to go after the whole Barbie experience. So we partnered with the Bay to launch this initiative,” said Carmen Martinez, Mattel's Canadian licensing manager, who worked with Mattel senior marketing manager Reidin Goode to create a program designed to expand the Barbie brand beyond the doll, and mark her 50th anniversary (which Mattell celebrated in California at a luxe version of the doll's Malibu Dream House earlier this month).
Martinez reported that Mattel started to create a Barbie lifestyle brand in 2000 in countries like Brazil—where the brand has been involved in the local fashion week for the past eight years—and in Japan, where there are 35 Barbie boutiques targeted to women. “I thought, 'We have to bring this to Canada,'” she said. At the store opening, organizers served mini cupcakes with pink icing and pink mocktails, made with pink grapefruit juice and soda water. Volunteers handed out pink Gerbera daisies to passersby on Queen Street, and the Dixon brothers joined Martinez to cut a pink ribbon inside the shop.
Martinez reported that Mattel reviewed a number of Canadian designers before approaching David Dixon for the project. “He is the perfect match for our brand. We love the approach he takes in his line. It is very feminine and very modern,” she said. After securing a partnership with Dixon, Martinez and Goode began to focus on other Canadian labels and products that would tie in with the Barbie brand. The result—lines of high heels and handbags from Town Shoes, jewelry from Foxy Originals, bath and body products from Cake, and home furnishings designed by Glenn Dixon.
Glenn, whose furniture line includes pieces such as a hot pink ottoman and a white ultra suede sofa piped in pink, joked in an interview, “Barbie has taken over my life...I dream about her at night.” In addition to designing his collection, Glenn produced his brother’s runway show. “It's very pink, very Barbie, very fun,” he said of the theme for the show. “It's going to be tasteful and modern with lots of hits of pink...we're going to pink-ify the tents.”
A hot pink carpet lay at the entrance to the tents at Nathan Phillips Square Monday, and servers offered pink martinis and pink champagne during a preshow cocktail party. Following the presentation of David’s signature collection, male models wearing T-shirts that read, “Ken…who?” handed out cans of Rich Prosecco to guests seated in the front rows. The song “Doll Parts” by Hole played as a video montage of Barbie images screened on the back wall before the models took to the runway, lit in pink.
A display of Glenn's furnishings sat inside a booth lined with collectible Barbie dolls, and attendees could share their Barbie stories at a confessional booth. “It's like a speaker's corner for Barbie,” the furniture designer said. Servers offered pink cupcakes to guests following the show, and attendees received Barbie dolls in pink gift bags at the end of the evening.