Slated to open on Feb. 11, Barbie Expo will feature more than 1,000 Barbie dolls, wearing styles by designers such as Christian Dior, Versace, Givenchy, Donna Karan, Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren and Vera Wang.
“It’s a very high-end and upscale shopping mall. We decided to do something different than other shopping malls,” says Valerie Law, vice-president of marketing and communications at the Soltron Group in Montreal, which owns Les Cours Mont-Royal. “We thought showcasing the history of fashion through the dolls would be a great idea.”
Open during store hours, the Barbie exhibit will be located on the second floor of the mall in an area that is used as a passage area and not as leasable space. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted for Make-A-Wish Quebec.
The 5,000 sq. ft. museum has been in the works for two years. While there was some thought given to opening a lounge or internet cafe in the space, the fashion aspect of the museum is a good fit for the Peel St. mall, which is home to retailers ranging from DKNY to Harry Rosen.
“The Cours Mont-Royal has always been a fashion destination for fashionistas and will always be one,” Law says.
The dolls, many of which are one-of-a-kind, have been curated from collectors around the world. Some were purchased, while others were donated by collectors impressed with the museum’s donations-only philosophy. Law was unable to put a price tag on the collection’s value.
Most of the Barbies will be displayed in glass showcases. In addition, there will be dioramas featuring Barbies on fashion-show runways, in a Las Vegas-style casino or crossing a busy New York City street.
Changes will be made to the collection every season.
Barbie Expo will also feature Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Lucille Ball, Beyonce, Cher, Jennifer Lopez, Barbra Streisand and Kate Middleton Barbie dolls. There will also be Barbies inspired by blockbuster films ranging from The Hunger Games to Gone with the Wind and super hero Barbies.
“We went as wide as we can,” Law says.
Alas, Barbie’s boyfriend Ken will get short shrift. To date, there is only one Ken doll in the museum.
Barbie Expo will be promoted on social media and through tourism offices in Montreal and Quebec. Law hopes the “not to be missed” exhibit will not only attract tourists and locals, but the fashion industry and live fashion shows.
More than 1 billion Barbies have been sold since the doll was launched in 1959 by Mattel and the doll does US $1 billion in sales annually. Mattel has just released three new body shapes for the doll.
Montreal-based Rev Communications is handling PR for Barbie Expo.