Page last updated at 08:00 GMT, Saturday, 7 March 2009

Barbie emporium opens in Shanghai

A worker cleans glass cases holding the different Barbie models on 5 March 2009
Almost 900 different Barbies are on display at the Shanghai store

Shoppers in the Chinese city of Shanghai are welcoming a new fashion icon to town, as the pink Barbie flagship store opens its doors.

The six-storey emporium displays almost 900 different Barbie dolls, many of which date back decades.

It also contains a spa, a bar and a studio where fans can try on human-sized items from Barbie's wardrobe.

The opening of the Shanghai store coincides with another Barbie milestone - she turns 50 on Monday.

Toy-maker Mattel has sold more than one billion Barbies since the blond, blue-eyed doll was first introduced on 9 March 1959.

Barbie brand manager Richard Dickson said Asia was a region of opportunity for the company, which has been hit by falling profits.

"We have been looking at various cities," he told the Associated Press news agency.

"Shanghai showed the absolute most passion for the Barbie brand, not only among girls three to eight years old, but for teenagers and mums, too."


Shoppers enter the store via a pink neon escalator tube, to the recorded sound of giggling girls.

Barbie products on display at the store on 5 March 2009
All kinds of Barbie paraphernalia are available at the store

Inside, the 900 different Barbies are exhibited in glass cases that form a three-storey spiral staircase.

Browsers can get their nails done, sit in a glitzy bar with a fashion runway or eat in a pink and black restaurant.

There is also a computer studio were Barbie die-hards can design and take away their ideal version of the doll.

The store is "unapologetically all-girl", Mr Dickson said.

Mattel is planning more stores around the world, but not on the scale of the Shanghai one, he said.

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