Tuesday, March 17, 2009 | 2 a.m.
How do you take a fashion icon like Barbie and update her image after 50 years of setting trends worldwide? Challenge the students at the International Academy of Design and Technology of Las Vegas to create new looks for an old classic.
Twice each year, the students at IADT present a fashion show at Fashion Show Mall on the Strip, but usually the theme of the design is up to the students. This past weekend they had the chance to show off more than 38 life-sized designs created for Barbie in honor of the doll’s 50th anniversary.
“I think having a theme like Barbie helped the students out – it helped them focus,” IADT fashion design program chairwoman Carolyn Thomas said. Thomas, who has been teaching fashion design for more than 30 years, created a Barbie outfit of her own to inspire the students.
To be a part of the fashion show, students had to submit designs for approval, create a doll-sized design and then make an adult, model-sized design for the runway. Students have been working on their creations since January.
Recent IADT graduate Ernest Lunderville wasn’t able to finish his design for the runway, but his doll outfit -- a Victorian-meets-Wild Wild West -- was eye-catching.
“When I did my doll, not only did I design her, I did the whole entire box and everything and had it all made for her,” he said.
Lunderville said he named his doll the Blue Canary. He said his concept had a story behind it, with a small canary in a cage holding a bracelet that the Barbie was reaching for.
“I think it's kind of fun for them to go through the problem-solving for making the dresses and trying to find a ‘Barbie look,’” Thomas said. “Someone suggested ‘Barbie Through the Ages,’ then we decided we wanted to do ‘Contemporary Barbie’ because ‘Barbie Through the Ages’ had already been done.
Danielle Weinkauf, who designed a wedding dress for her ‘Sunrise Barbie,’ said the theme took her back to her childhood.
“I used to make Barbie outfits all the time when I was little,” Weinkauf said. “I think we all found ourselves definitely enjoying playing with Barbies again because in classes we all had to fiddle with them and make new designs.”
Thomas said that while she didn't grow up designing Barbie clothes, she used to do the same for her paper dolls. She said every student in her class completed a garment for the show.
The Barbies will be part of a permanent display at the school.