Dolls at the Beach

Greetings from Southern California

For many artists and designers vintage graphics and fashion are a great source of inspiration. I found this reproduction “California” post card at a little shop in San Juan Capistrano. As you can see, Southern California has long been known for its wide sandy beaches, palm trees, oranges and gorgeous girls wearing skimpy clothes. The postcard inspired me to create a collection of designs for dolls at the beach. I love vintage fashion and I’ve always thought it would be fun to design a line of dolls wearing vintage-esque bathing suits, even if the dolls looked like girls of today. Here is a quick marker sketch of three dolls inspired by california poppies, and the orange, blue, dark pink and black colors on the Southern California post card.

Dolls at the Beach

Why Swimsuit Dolls?

Research tells us that girls like beach culture because they associate it with summer vacations, either the one’s they take with their parents or the ones they aspire to take one day. Perhaps the designers that created the original Malibu Barbie knew this innately. Perhaps they just thought it would be a good idea to make an inexpensive doll with a dark orange tan and an aqua maillot. It must have sold well, because when I worked at Mattel someone was always working on the yearly bathing suit line. Sometimes the doll had a “feature” that would make it do something interesting. Sometimes it was just a simple line of dolls for the customer that wanted to spend under $10. One year Mattel came out with a line of inexpensive dolls wearing colorful leopard-print bathing suits that I designed for them. They called her “Florida Vacation Barbie”. Here she is with her friends.

Florida Vacation Barbie and Friends

Florida Vacation Barbie

Photo found on The Barbie Blog:

I’ve always loved leopard print, and was excited that I was able to use my favorite print on what was then considered a very important segment of the overall mass doll line. The suits featured ruffles as a major design element because at the time all the dolls in a line had to look pretty similar. I don’t think I would design anything like this now because there’s just not enough variety, but at the time I was really happy with them.

Do you have a favorite swimsuit doll?

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