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Stephen Burrows Pazette Barbie Doll Rises and Shines

Trail-blazing African-American fashion designer Stephen Burrows has dressed quite the glamour squad during his 40+ years in the industry, with a clientele that has included Iman, Cher, Beverly Johnson, Liza Minnelli, Hilary Duff, Lauren Hutton, Barbra Streisand, Sofia Vergara, Jerry Hall, and Pat Cleveland. Now, the 68-year-old designer has concocted a deliciously flashy concotion for Miss Plastic Fantastic herself: Barbie.

The newly unveiled Stephen Burrows Pazette Barbie Doll ($100 at BarbieCollector.com), a collaboration between doll maker Linda Kyaw and Burrows, conjures up images of the decadent hedonism, high-octane drama, and unabashed sexiness of Studio 54 era fashions, then infuses that aesthetic with a showgirl vibe that channels Josephine Baker in her signature feather costumes and sprinkles a touch of ’80s Jazzercise style into the mix.

It should go without saying that this isn’t the type of Barbie doll you’d gift to a toddler — unless, of course, you want said tot to bang this collector’s item on the floor or take a pair of miniature scissors and a jar of glitter to the doll’s couture ensemble. The $100 price tag says it all: this is a doll to be kept on a shelf or inside a display box and simply admired.

And boy, is there a lot to admire! First, there’s the fact that, unlike previous “ethnic” Barbies that just looked like the standard Caucasian doll with a deep tan, this one actually looks black — from the deep mahogany skin tone to the full, lush lips (all she’s missing is the hips and the booty!). And, of course, her face is absolutely, gloriously stunning, with cheeks as high and chiseled as Grace Jones’ own, beautiful almond-shaped hazel eyes resembling Tyra Banks’ peepers, a cute-as-a-button nose that reminds me of Chanel Iman’s own sniffer, and a slightly pronounced jawline reminiscent of a young Diana Ross. Beauty hounds, meanwhile, will actually want to replicate her makeup look, as this Barbie oozes showgirl spunk with radiant, lit-from-within skin; medium gray eyeshadow along the lid accentuated by a streak of silver glitter beneath the well-defined brow; flirtatious faux lashes that fan out along the outer corner of the eye; a touch of gray liner beneath the lower lash line; flushed cheeks; and a succulent fuchsia pink pout. Her hair look is just as stunning: pulled back into a chignon and accessorized with a sequin-adorne silver tiara that rests atop the center of her head and secures her feather headdress, an explosion of white plumage that makes the now infamous Bob Mackie-designed headpiece Cher wore to the 1986 Oscars look positively timid.

As for the Stephen Burrows Pazette Barbie’s ensemble, the look cleverly combines numerous materials and aesthetics. First, there’s the nude mesh material that serves as the foundation of her skin-hugging, long-sleeved jumpsuit, automatically creating a peek-a-boo effect and toying with ideas of nudity. A nude knit material is then layered cleverly along the bustline to create a subtle bustier-like effect while still maintaining the bare skin feel of the original mesh and embellished with clear stones and silver sequins for a cabaret-worthy dose of flash. Silver strips placed diagonally along the bodice and hip region, meanwhile, create a starburst effect while also toying with a more futuristic Mad Max-ian aesthetic. These silver bands even wrap around the arms of the mesh top, again adding a degree of toughness to the design. These techniques are again utilized for the pant section of the catsuit, but the concentration of mirrored round silver sequins is particularly high along the hips and upper thighs, while wide bands of a  two-toned silver knit material wrap around the thighs and legs ike strips of ribbon. The very bottom section of the pants legs meanwhile, right above the ankles, incorporates a wheat-colored ribbed knit material that’s reminiscent of ’80s workout gear. The entire ensemble is then topped off with a nearly sheer, silvery white vest that drapes down past the hip area, its open side flaps sprinkled with silver glitter and its hemline embellished with airy feathers. Last, of course, there’s the shoes: cream-and-silver sandals with three tubuluar straps running across the vamp, another three straps hugging the ankle, and a sky-high heel with a zippered closure along the back.

Audacious and unexpected, the fashions donned by the Stephen Burrows Pazette Barbie Doll remind us of why the designer became a worldwide phenom.


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