Barbie learns to cook!!
This is the name of the outfit this repro Swirl Ponytail wears. The Barbie learns to cook set was presented in 1965 but we must tell that it has still a very 50s Flair.
Psychedelia and Mod fashion were beginning to take its position but the models at Mattel were planned for production a year before its launchment and had to be something that children could identify easily and that was a premise that the designer in chief Charlotte Johnson followed from the beginning and, although in the big cities the British Invasion arrived soon, the villages of deep USA weren't aware yet of the new revolution so we have this Barbie learns to cook model with a classical 50s shape with a wide skirt and thin waist in tune with the line Dior had launched at the end of the IIWW the New Look.
Since her birth in 1959 Barbie sweetened her image progressively making her more accesible to the children and many parents who found the very first edition too exhuberant and inaccesible and because of this we have a doll always navigating between the children's and adult's world so, for this outfit, the pattern of the dress was flowered with naïf colors and the name Barbie, with its characteristic typography of the time, written all over the dress in pink, blue, orange and green.
The fabric print was made in another set of colors, a darker green and blue combined with red in the same white canvas, for other sets like the Hostess Set or Fun at the Fair with a matching outfit for Skipper among other garments.
And what about The Swirl Ponytail? This hairdo this lemon blonde repro girl wears is one of the most tricky hairdos of Barbie to redo. Its creation is pretty curious and its author was Jean Burger Barbie's hairdresser in the 60s who arrived at Mattel direct from her salon in Hollywood.
This ponytail was Jean's first work at Mattel. They charged her with an updo for Barbie to maintain the bond with the original Larry Germain ponytail and with the children's world. We can't forget that before the 60s ponytails were hairstyles linked only to the children's world and they meant youthful in itself so, for Barbie, it had to be a ponytail after all. Just two premises for Jean, nothing extravagant so no "chignons", or "french twists" and 10 minutes!
"Somebody came to me and said 'we have to put a new hairstyle on #Barbie. She has to have a ponytail, and we have to have it in 10 minutes!' I cut off all the bangs and rooted a part with the same hair color. I pushed it across and it worked it into the ponytail that later came to be called the Swirl"
Jean Ann Burger in a María Lynn Toth's Barbie Bazaar article (February 2002)
To make the hairstyle more cute Jean added a ribbon near the end of the ponytail just above the flip and the idea liked the management team so the hairdo was aproved and the doll launched the next year.
Without a doubt the Swirl ponytail is a beautiful hairstyle but the problem was that once the children dishevealed it was difficult to redo, specially for children hands so many vintage SwirlbPonytail Barbie dolls ended with several degrees of dishevealed hair.
Jean Burger and people at Mattel in general would learn eventually from the inclement children:
"I have to design a hairstyle that is simple to sew but when it's groomed looks stylish. I also have to design hair that won't fall out if the child brushes the hair or grabs the doll by the hair and slings it around"
Jean Burger, Barbie Talks by Gwen Florea
At the end it was decided to combine the Barbie Learns to Cook set with a lemon blonde Swirl Ponytail Barbie for the 90s repro line.
The problem is that the dress with all the cookware that was included in the set gave a very sexist message "the perfect housewife" a "normal" concept un the 60s but not normal at all for our nowadays eyes.
Was Barbie really training to be "The perfect housewife"? I don't think so. She must had been learning to be a chef or relaxing with her bake hobby in the breaks of her many things to do.
by The Barbiest