Life in plastic, it’s fantastic – Aqua
I’ve been meaning to publish this post for ages and yesterday I got the prompt I needed after reading about a Barbie-themed café that recently opened in Taiwan. Whilst such kitsch enterprises are generally expected of pretty much most countries in Asia (there was a short-lived Barbie shop in Japan whilst until 2011 Shanghai boasted a six-storey Barbie megastore), neither Taiwan, Japan nor China, even, can lay claim to the world’s first Barbie emporium. That honour goes to… Argentina. (I know, right?) Whilst the Casa Rosada (above), in Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, is one of the city’s most famous landmarks (it’s where Eva Peron famously waved to the masses and remains the home of the Argentinian president) it’s by no means the only pink house of note in Buenos Aires. A few miles away in the exclusive Palermo district you can also find Casa de Barbie, a larger than life dream house comprising a shop, café, salon and play area (the latter of which is mocked up like Barbie’s bedroom).
The Barbie House was dreamt up by an enterprising local businessman who licensed the brand from Mattel and the concept has proved revolutionary, creating a completely new and immersive experience for Barbie fans, where they can not only play with the original fashion doll but emulate her too, getting their hair done at the Barbie salon, munching on Barbie-glazed biscuits in the café and sitting at B’s very own desk in the playroom. The store even sells matching outfits for the dolls and their owners.While the store mainly caters to the kiddy contingent (unsurprisingly), after a lot of flapping and miming (on my part) the sales assistants eventually managed to locate a Barbie t-shirt in my size for me to take away as a souvenir. Sadly, I couldn’t take the car!Undoubtedly the Casa de Barbie was the inspiration for the six-floor Barbie concept store in Shanghai, which I had hoped to visit before it was shut down after only two years, apparently due to low sales figures. I am therefore delighted to hear about the new café in Taiwan!Whilst Barbie remains a controversial figure, calls that she is “outdated” and “deserves to die a death” (see the Telegraph article link, above) smack of humourlessness. Barbara Millicent Banks, to give her her full name, has had over 100 different careers (at the last count) including doctor, architect and astronaut and, as such, is an inspiration to women everywhere. Moreover, given that at 54 years old she shows no signs of slowing down, far from dying a death she’ll probably outlive us all. And no, not just because she’s plastic.