The countdown is on until Barbie hits the big screen in July. It’s hard not to get excited about a film that is bringing Barbie back into our everyday conversations and even caused a global shortage of fluorescent fuchsia paint, but beyond fashion, nostalgia, and rollerblades, there is a long legacy of Barbie excellence behind the film. That legacy was started by Barbie’s very own fashion designer Carol Spencer, a beautiful and bright woman filled with sparkling knowledge and fashion expertise.
“Playing dress up begins at age 5 & never truly ends.”Kate Spade
The New York Times says Carol might be “the most influential fashion designer you’ve never heard of” as her work for Barbie is often overshadowed by the doll’s many adventures and careers. To those in the know, she’s an icon and an inspiration. From designing the outfit of the Totally Hair Barbie Doll in a 90s hot pink multicolor swirled dress to My First Ballerina Barbie sporting the sweetest rosy pink tutu and the Barbie Dolls of the World series, Carol designed incredible Barbie Doll fashion at Mattel over 35 amazing years.
Growing up, Carol was inspired by her grandmother to teach herself to sew and later studied design at the Minneapolis School of Fine Arts. She completed an internship in New York with Mademoiselle Magazine and eventually moved to Los Angeles to pursue her dreams. Her fashion work at Mattel began in 1963!
From Barbie jackets and jumpsuits to jewelry and dresses. Barbie’s ballgowns, skirts, shoes, and accessories became a massive closet of Carol’s design. Carol calls Barbie the “original fashion influencer,” and we can’t agree more. Barbie has always been a source of fashion inspiration for the children that play with her (including this Showstopper Magazine Online fashion writer). I have vivid memories of playing “fashion designer” with Ballerina Barbie with my sisters, acting out our love of dance and fashion.
Paris to Hong Kong to Los Angeles, Carol has truly adventured around the globe with Barbie. Some of her signature designs are the Golden Jubilee Barbie Doll, Gallery Opening Barbie, Benefit Ball Barbie, and Hollywood Premiere Fashions. She also designed a beautiful blue ballgown for Barbie that was approved personally by Oscar de la Renta in 1984 to be sold in a Barbie Collector Series under his name. Fun Fact: Carol was actually the very first Barbie designer to have her name printed on Barbie packaging!
“I truly fell in love with Barbie the first moment I created her clothes and accessories.”Carol Spencer
In 1998, Mattel created a Carol Spencer Barbie wearing a sweet pink skirt suit. This fashionable doll honored Carol’s 35th anniversary as a Mattel designer. Carola calls Barbie “something to play with and to dream with,” and her story, work, and determination show that girls can do anything. It’s no wonder she was inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame in 2017!
Carol recently published her book Dressing Barbie: A Celebration of the Clothes that Made America’s Favorite Doll and the Incredible Woman Behind Them. It is full of Carol’s stories and pictures of Barbie’s best looks across more than three decades of design.
“Rock your own story.”Barbie
Barbie dolls, books, movies—Barbie continuously demonstrates that there are not limits to fashion or dreams. Barbie’s fashion sense upholds a fun uniqueness that is a great reminder to always be yourself. Designers like Carol Spencer create these wonderful clothing designs that spark ideas and encourage girls like me to pursue their passions. Barbie fashion impacted me growing up and followed me through my dreams of being a fashion designer. You can be anything. Never stop dreaming!