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Barbie Doll: when the legendary blonde travels on the Côte d’Azur

This year, the legendary Barbie doll, the dream of every girl, celebrated her anniversary. This March 9th she was 60 years old. Many people know about the famous toy, although the story of her adventures on the Côte d’Azur is not known to everyone.

Yes, adventures! If you look at the photos from the book «Barbie on the French Riviera» by Jean-Pierre Icardo, you’ll get the impression that she lives certainly as well as many residents of Monaco. By the way, it was in the Principality that collecting the legendary Mattel doll was first taken seriously. So, this is the story of how the trip of Jean-Pierre Icardo in Monaco marked the beginning of a brilliant adventure.

More than half a century of history: from the doll to the phenomenon

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The first doll appeared in 1959 at the exhibition of children’s toys in New York. Her creator was Ruth Handler, a business lady from America.

Ruth spent her childhood in Denver, where as a young girl she worked at her family pharmacy. She married Eliot Handler and became one of the founders of Mattel, a company producing toys, including the famous doll.

Barbie doll
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By the time the first doll came out, Ruth had a daughter, Barbara. At first, sales were low: the doll was criticized for bright makeup and too alluring a feminine silhouette. Nevertheless, the first year of its existence, was marked with 300,000 dolls sold.

If the first model was dressed in a black and white swimsuit, her style changed considerably over time. In the 60s, she looked like Grace Kelly; then she gradually changed her looks — from Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn to Cher and also including some fairy-tale characters.

Today, Barbie has not lost her track record of success: on average, about three dolls are bought every second in the world.

Barbie doll
© Jean-Pierre Icardo

Barbie on the Côte d’Azur

Returning to the history of the famous blonde on the French Riviera, it is worth noting that she visited the most emblematic places in the region thanks to Jean-Pierre Icardo. This native of Nice has been collecting dolls of the legendary brand for over 50 years.

However, it was Monaco that became the place where his passion acquired a new meaning in the eyes of collectors. In 1984, the Principality hosted an international congress dedicated to dolls and slot machines. At this time, the interest of collectors was mostly attracted by porcelain dolls. It never occurred to anyone to collect dolls created by Americans from Mattel.

Barbie doll
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It was in Monaco that the Barbie doll was recognized as an object eligible for collecting, thanks to the efforts of Jean-Pierre, humble but proud of this result.

His collection includes hundreds of dolls, which retain their original appearance. The Frenchman even published a book with amazing photos reflecting the life of the famous blonde.

Each of the 300 shots tells its own story: Barbie on the place Massena, a visit to Provence and a picnic with friends or just a walk through the port with her boyfriend…

Barbie doll
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The intense perfectionism and creative imagination of Jean-Pierre led to an amazing result: each photo looks so realistic; every detail being taken into account.

Of course, Jean-Pierre Icardo couldn’t do all the work himself, as he needed the help of publisher François Allain and model maker Xavier Broxolle. The meeting with them convinced Jean-Pierre to take the next step and move from collecting to creating a photo book.

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Jean-Pierre placed his first doll for a photo-shoot on the cliffs of Cap Ferrat in 2006. Then the adventure began, during which the Frenchman visited every corner of the region in the company of his mother, who got inspired by the project.

Looking at the photos taken by Jean-Pierre Icardo, it is hard to imagine how much effort it takes to create such lifelike images. Clearly, he left nothing to chance. Each photo is a tremendous job, because the final shot published is the result of a well thought out shooting and 60–400 attempts. After all, the photo ought at the end of the day be perfect! The most difficult thing is to make a composition that will look natural, even though the main character is just a doll. However, the author succeeded!

Barbie doll
© Jean-Pierre Icardo

It’s worth reflecting whether the French collector should have placed Barbie on the terrace of Café de Paris on the occasion of her 60th anniversary?

Jean-Pierre Icardo probably had some ideas in mind, and probably still has. Just wait for them.

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