Not just a little girl's prized plaything, Barbie also is a collector's item, a fashion icon and a pop culture perennial. And for one Miami bride whose childhood love for the doll has never waned, Barbie was the basis for a pretty-in-pink bridal shower with an upscale edge. Design director Richard Randall of Miami's A Joy Wallace Catering Production & Design Team, which designed and catered the 120-guest springtime fête, says his team's challenge was in finding ways to give the decidedly youthful theme an appropriately “adult swing.”
Development of the Barbie design scheme started slowly. The initial “spa day” idea, for instance, was jettisoned because the invited guests, a style-minded bunch, might balk at dressing down for the occasion. But then a weekend trip to the mall kicked planning into high gear.
“We started with the thrift stores,” recounts Adelee Cabrera, Joy Wallace's director of client services. She explains that the idea was to locate anything “stylish and pink” that might be used to outfit mannequins for use in the event's design. When some diligent digging turned up perfect pink outfits from the '50s and '60s, “We decided, ‘Let's do Barbie through the ages,’” Cabrera says.
Not only did the new take on the theme enable more design flexibility, but, Randall adds, the through-the-years aspect brought in a “growing up with Barbie” feel — perfect for the bridal shower's coming-of-age significance.
While outfits proved easy to find, the mannequins themselves posed problems. Randall notes that the only mannequins available were made for today's garment display demands, and as such had contemporary looks and poses. To make the figures fit with the retro Barbie costumes, “We ended up modifying them ourselves,” he says, replacing wigs, altering “makeup” and changing poses. Mannequin accessories, meanwhile, came from the closets of Joy Wallace employees, as well as those of their mothers and other relatives. Mannequin modification also involved weighting the figures' bases to ensure they didn't topple over in a brisk breeze at the outdoor event.
Full-size, dressed-to-the-nines “Barbies” may have the been the focal point of the party design. But the Barbie touch was on every event element from the tabletops to the interactive entertainment to the delectable dessert.
Pink watermelon mojitos served from a punch bowl nestled in a classic pink Barbie Corvette got the festivities started, while a DJ played Barbie-themed tunes mixed with classic wedding songs. When lunchtime neared, guests made their way to tables draped in multi-shade pink linen and topped with framed pictures of Barbies clad in custom getups from famed designers, including modern fashion stars Vera Wang and Kate Spade.
Following a lick-your-fingers lunch that included cilantro-lime jumbo shrimp and prosciutto, brie and fig-chutney sandwiches, served by lick-your-lips “Ken doll” waiters in pink ties, the guests played bridal-shower games provided by the bride's maid of honor. Winners received live, salon-style MAC makeovers provided by MAC-trained makeup artists using products from the cosmetic company's Barbie Loves MAC line — a collaboration between MAC and Barbie-maker Mattel.
After their makeovers, participants “got to take pictures with the ‘Ken dolls,’” Cabrera says. “Some of the wait staff got a little frisky and picked up the girls” for the photos, she adds, noting that the fun was a big hit with the ladies.
In a sweet finish, guests indulged in a dessert display of mini cakes decorated with daisies, calling to mind the iconic daisy design associated with Barbie packaging and advertising through the years. Meanwhile, family-style platters of pink truffles, strawberries dipped in pink chocolate, and pink meringues satisfied even the most demanding sweet tooth.
Because she and her staff had gone to all that trouble and “hand-selected beautiful boys to work the party,” says Cabrera, she figured she would make the most of their presence.
“When the party was coming to a close, we brought out every single male server, each with a silver tray,” she recounts. Atop the trays lay custom box-style wedding invitations, crafted by award-winning Miami-based invitation designers Arlene Segal Design Group, which the servers presented to each excited guest.
It's a special bride who is willing to let another girl share the spotlight at her shower, so naturally Cabrera and Randall wanted to thank their client for being such a good sport. And thank her they did, with a gift she likely will cherish for years to come — not to mention one through which she will cherish her Barbie bridal shower: a genuine Mattel Barbie design drawing.
EVENT DESIGN AND CATERING
A Joy Wallace Catering Production & Design Team
Cake Designs by Edda
Atlas Party Rental
Diamonette Party Rentals
Antipasto Salad with Baby Arugula, Chopped Italian Meats, Provolone, Artichokes and Pepperoncini
Orzo Salad with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Toasted Pine Nuts, Grilled Artichoke, Hearts of Palm and Kalamata Olives
“Floribbean” Salad with Baby Greens, Caramelized Pecans, Grilled Pineapple, Sliced Strawberries and Crumbled Goat Cheese