Ken and Barbie will see you now.
You know her. You love her. And chances are that you even lived with her for a while. Yes, that lovely doll "Barbie" has been with us throughout our entire lives. She can come across as a wee bit fickle, as she seems to be EVERYONE's best friend. The truth is that Barbie's loyal, fashionable, trendy, current, and only has eyes for one man....surfer dude "Ken". The ever-stylish young lady has reigned through the decades and been all around the world. Today she descends on THE SHOPS AT CRYSTALS for an extended stay, and it looks like Vegas has a new "Queen B".
BARBIE: A Cultural Icon Exhibition might have just opened to the public, but it has been creating buzz for several weeks. VEGAS 411 visited the site on Thursday as last-minute preparations were underway. Shoppers gazed, fascinated, while technicians powered up the attraction's sign, infusing it with Barbie's familiar pink glow. One level below, Instagram fashionistas posed inside a life-size Barbie box while others asked "When does it open?". "How do I get up there?"
Being the icon that she is, Barbie naturally has her own private elevator to the new Exhibition. However, she's opening it up to the public so everyone can enjoy her story and the impact that she's made on clothing, representation, fitness, hairstyles, and even workplace equality. The attraction has been created with the full participation of Mattel, the manufacturer of all things "Barbie"...from dreamhouses and carrying cases to career collections, furniture, and electronics.
When VEGAS 411 arrived for an early peek, talented technicians were putting the final touches on displays and lighting. Barbie and friends were being meticulously groomed, with stylists ensuring that each hair was in place and costumes were photo-ready for opening day. Mattel Associate Manager Darby Searl showed us around the expansive exhibit...that is, until a trio of lucky ladies arrived for a personalized tour. At that point, we just followed along, and it was a pleasure to witness the excitement that the Barbie gang inspires in their target demographic - young ladies.
It's easy to forget the significance of Barbie as a 60-year reflection of our culture, especially if you stopped hanging out with her past your pre-teen years. But never "just a doll", she's been a mirror image of who we are as a people. Barbie's journeyed through cultural upheavals, race relations, music trends, and women's rights. The ever-expanding line has addressed issues as broad as hem lengths, skin color, diversity, space exploration, and even environmental concerns. She may be a toy, but Barbie has always made it clear that you can be anything, do anything, and face the world without limits.
Barbie's impact on society wouldn't have had such longevity if the brand wasn't fun. "All work and no play" is indeed quite dull. The same can be said about the new Exhibition, which takes fans on a trippy, enjoyable journey down memory lane. There's almost certainly a specific toy or accessory that will trigger flashbacks to your childhood. And sections dedicated to designer Bob Mackie, the "Big Hair Era" and "80s Fitness Fashions" should inspire a few chuckles.
While Barbie, Ken, and the rest of the crew deserve reverence and respect, there are a few "oops" moments in the line's history that are conspicuously absent here. We're talking releases like the notorious "Earring Magic Ken" (click here), walk-and-poop "Tanner the Dog", and "Oreo Fun Barbie" in Caucasian and African-American varieties. We also didn't spot the 2008 issue of very Vegas-y "Elvis and Priscilla Ann", although the attraction was still being finalized during our visit.
Whatever Barbie means to you, be it odd, conventional, pop-culture related, or just plain fun, BARBIE: A CULTURAL ICON EXHIBITION is sure to please guests of every age. It debuts Friday, October 22nd, and will remain through January 2nd, 2022. The attraction is located on the third level of THE SHOPS AT CRYSTALS, is open daily, and tickets can be ordered here. Free valet parking is available to guests - follow the signs from Las Vegas Boulevard.