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Monday, 8 March, 1999, 17:09 GMT
Barbie: Sparkling at 40
barbie
Barbie: Object of desire
Barbie, the world's best-selling doll, is celebrating her 40th birthday with a new dress.

This is no ordinary gown. Designed together with the diamond company De Beers, it is encrusted with 160 diamonds and is accompanied by 18ct white gold Barbie-sized pieces of jewellery.

Original Barbie
Barbie's "improbable" figure of 40 years ago
The one-off 40th anniversary model is selling for quite a bit more than the usual retail price. Dubbed the most expensive Barbie doll in the world, it is on sale for 50,000.

Barbie will be modelling the dress throughout March at jewellers David Morris International in London's Bond Street. There is a separate exhibition of Barbies past and present at the Harrods store in London.

Plastic surgery

factbox
But there are doubts whether Barbie is growing old gracefully. Last year, she underwent major plastic surgery.

With a redesign said to better reflect today's society, out went the improbably large breasts and tiny waist.

In came slimmer hips, a wider waist and - in the words of the company - a profile that is "less graduated".

Barbie's new look has not dented her popularity.

Two Barbie dolls are sold every second, contributing around $2bn a year to Mattel.

See also:

18 Nov 97 | Business
Barbie undergoes plastic surgery
14 Jan 99 | Americas
Furby toy or Furby spy?
15 Jan 99 | Entertainment
Noddy keeps his English voice
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