I had this doll and had I known the historical significance of her at the time, I might not have broken her head off her neck. Years later I replaced her and I’m glad that I did.
She was designed by Kitty Black Perkins. Much like myself, black Perkins grew up a little black girl in a small southern town dreaming of designing clothes. She was taught to sew at an early age. Her dreams were encouraged by her parents and her school teachers. Black-Perkins relocated to Los Angeles and enrolled in the Los Angeles Trade-Technical College where she earned a degree in fashion design.
She began her career working as a designer for several fashion houses in LA designing everything from sportswear to couture. In 1976, she was hired by Mattel were she eventually became Chief Designer of Fashions and Doll Concepts for Mattel’s highly successful Barbie line. Over the years, her hard work and fashion genius have contributed to Barbie’s 300 million plus fashions and dolls, including two lines of African-American Barbie Dolls. Along the way she drew inspiration and ideas from many different sources and she has said that being skilled in pattern making, sketching and sewing are key for anyone looking to enter this field.
Kitty Black-Perkins inspired and led the way for another African-American fashion designer at Mattel, Stacey McBride-Irby. In 2009, she designed and launched So In Style a line of ethnic Barbie dolls for Mattel.
Even at 38, I still love Barbie dolls. Let’s face she has a killer wardrobe and she can do and be anything. Barbie’s bring back fond memories. For a long time, I wanted to work for Mattel designing Barbie’s after reading about Ms. Black Perkins. I just find it fascinating all the different career paths you can have in fashion and I wanted to share with you that as Barbie says “we girls can do anything!”
Even be fashion designers for the most famous girl in the world!