Life in plastic is about to get a little bit more fantastic. On Monday, Sept 29, Mattel will release a special collaboration with fashion designer and flesh-Muppet Karl Lagerfeld — the Karl Barbie. Let’s be very clear about this: there is going to be a Karl Lagerfeld Barbie. There is not going to be a Karl Lagerfeld Ken, because that’s ridiculous. Can you even imagine? Ken could only dream of pulling off the iconic white ponytail, old-person sunglasses, and vampire-priest outfit Karl has been rocking every day for well over a thousand years. Ken is someone who, if he were a real person, Karl Lagerfeld would cause a “scandal” by calling fat. Only Barbie herself, with her streamlined, biology-defying physique, her dead-eyed femininity and her proud history of dressing up as everyone from Cher to Kimora Lee Simmons could do justice to Karl. Barbie or possibly Skipper.
As only 999 Karl Barbies will be produced (why couldn’t it have been 666?), and each individual one will set you back $200, these toys clearly aren’t for kids. Or, they are only for really rich, really weird kids. But more likely, they belong on the shelves of adult collectors. In recent years, high-end designer toys have carved out a new niche on the cultural landscape. Pharrell curated a whole exhibition on them at the Design Exchange in Toronto earlier this year. And one of the most popular substrata of this ultra-specific artform is branded variants of simple designs. So, instead of buying a Wolverine action figure, you’d buy a plastic bunny painted to resemble Wolverine. The Karl Barbie is basically the high-maintenance version of that. Besides, if it were actually just a Karl Lagerfeld doll, that would mean someone would have to sculpt a doll head featuring his actual wrinkly sourpuss, which even die-hard Lager-Heads probably don’t particularly want.
Of course, the main question this raises is when do we get a Donnatella Versace Barbie? An Anna Wintour or Vivienne Westwood Barbie would be nice. It’s frankly shocking that a Jean Paul Gaultier Ken doesn’t already exist. But surely what the public really wants is old Leatherface herself, complete with champagne flute and Power Plate “exercise” machine accessories, trademark Oompa Loompa skin, and floor-length witch hair. It’s the perfect Christmas present for those children you wish you’d never had!