Home Doll market Barbies more than beauty queens for longtime designer Mark Hughes

Barbies more than beauty queens for longtime designer Mark Hughes

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We all have something – or somewhere – that sets off serotonin just by holding or seeing it: the woods where you grew up playing hide and seek, a cupboard full of your mother’s old copper cookie cutters, the room in your house that makes you feel the most peaceful. In the “My Favorite Things” report, we invite the people of Northwest Arkansa to share those special things or places that bring them joy.

This week we have the chance to take a closer look at designer Mark Hughes’ incredible collection of vintage Barbie dolls. Hughes, a resident of Eureka Springs, has been sewing since he was a child. He spent 25 years designing for the regional theater and now designs and sews for his company, Regalia Handmade Clothing, which includes Bing Bang Boomerang, a vintage-inspired handmade clothing line.

What I collect: Vintage Barbie dolls, clothes, accessories from the 60s.

How / when / why the collection started: When I was a kid I asked for Barbies because I wanted to sew, and she was going to be my model. What my parents bought for their little boy was a GI Joe astronaut doll. I made a hole in his parachute to make a skirt for him and twirled him around to see how the fabric moved when my parents came back into the room. The next day I was taken to the Sterling store in Little Rock to pick out my first Barbie. I would take her to family reunions and my grandmother would let me play with her sewing basket and scraps of fabric. She said, “Someday he’ll do something with that skill.” I have supported myself as a seamstress in one form or another my whole life. I started collecting as an adult about twenty years ago, for nostalgic reasons.

What attracts you to these articles? They take me back to my childhood and to a time when we produced quality objects, not just toys. My childhood dolls were from the Mod era and I remember standing in the store thinking how cheaply they were made, compared to my best friend’s dolls and clothes, which were passed down through her. older sister. Clothing from the ’60s was fully lined, had tiny zippers, snaps, buttons, and pattern details that still amaze me today. The reason there are still so many vintage Barbies is that they were cherished by the child and taken care of; $ 3 for a doll and $ 5 for an outfit was a lot back then. It was sewing for children, and the doll was an adult, unlike all baby dolls of the time. A child might imagine themselves as a model, student, or bride and save the role of mom / babysitter for later.

What is the most expensive item in the collection? Barbie has times in her production history where Mattel was trying something new and maybe didn’t do much of a certain doll. These rare items tend to be very collectable and therefore valuable. I once bought a doll at a flea market that I knew was prized for a feature, but unbeknownst to me, it had a rare detail in the feature. … When I shared a photo of her on a collector’s Facebook page, several people offered me up to $ 2,000. I did not sell.

Where do you find most of the items in your collection? Flea markets? Thrift stores? Real estate sales ? Yes to all of the above. I stopped buying on eBay because collectors fix the value, and I don’t want to pay the top price now that I have most of what I wanted. I like to find them in the wild – in thrift stores, flea markets, and estate sales, because it’s more fun to “scavenger hunt”. But my favorite way is when they are offered or sold to me by the original owner who heard that I have collected. Then I can see what a child chose with their allowance or got from Santa. I love hearing their stories about how they played, who made them clothes and how they cherished them. I love to see what they had as a collection, and I can tell by the state how much they were loved.

Is there “one that got away” – that is, you missed out and wished you had bought it? Not really, but there are quite a few that I wish I had gotten rid of.

Is your collection finished or in progress? If it is in progress, will it ever be finished? I will probably never stop, but I have slowed down considerably as I am acquiring more than I can display.

Is there a white whale you are looking for? The “holy grail” for every Barbie collector is the very first version of the doll released in 1959, of which few were made. During the first year of production, Mattel redesigned it several times to correct design flaws. So the first thing you learn as a collector is the subtle changes that identify a “first number” versus a number 2, 3 or 4. Many people think they have the first if wearing a swimsuit. striped black and white, but the fun is being able to identify what part of 1960 it really comes from.

What are people saying about your collection? “Wow!” Https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2021/oct/17/my-favorite-things-barbies-more-than-beauty/ “Oh, this is the one I had!” Https : // www.arkansasonline.com/news/2021/oct/17/my-favorite-things-barbies-more-than-beauty/”How many are there? ”https: //www.arkansasonline. com / news / 2021 / oct / 17 / my-favorite-things-barbies-more-than-beauty / “Have you lost your mind?”

Will you ever run out of room for your collection, and if so, do you have a plan for this event? Get a bigger house.

What else do you collect? Plaster kitchen twine rack from the 30s and 40s. Vintage knobs. The Dogpatch paraphernalia. Miniature 1940s war sewing mannequins.

Do you have something that you treasure? Or a friend who has the best collection ever? Send your story suggestions to Lara Hightower at [email protected]

If Hughes runs out of room for his collection, he says, he will “just get a bigger house.” (Special for NWA Democrat-Gazette / John Rankine)

Designer Mark Hughes received his first Barbie doll when he was a child.  She became his model and his career as a designer was born when he made clothes for her from the leftovers of his grandmother's sewing basket.  For 20 years, he has been collecting vintage dolls, out of nostalgia, he says.  (Special for NWA Democrat-Gazette / John Rankine)

Designer Mark Hughes received his first Barbie doll when he was a child. She became his model and his career as a designer was born when he made clothes for her from the leftovers of his grandmother’s sewing basket. For 20 years, he has been collecting vintage dolls, out of nostalgia, he says. (Special for NWA Democrat-Gazette / John Rankine)

“They take me back to my childhood and a time when quality items were produced, not just toys,” says Hughes of his collection.  (Special for NWA Democrat-Gazette / John Rankine)

“They take me back to my childhood and a time when quality items were produced, not just toys,” says Hughes of his collection. (Special for NWA Democrat-Gazette / John Rankine)

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Mark Hughes is always on the lookout for people willing to part with their childhood toys. Contact him at Regalia Handmade Clothing, (479) 253-2202.

Follow her designer career on Instagram at regalia_handmade_clothing and on the internet at regaliahandmade.com


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