Ninety-six-year-old style icon Iris Apfel has become the oldest person ever to be immortalized as a Barbie doll. The self-proclaimed “geriatric starlet” joins luminaries like Gigi Hadid, J.K. Rowling and Misty Copeland who have had dolls created in their likeness.
Apfel confirmed the news on her Instagram account, before posting a picture of the Barbie accompanied by the caption, “Isn’t she cute?” The doll comes dressed in the same emerald-green suit and ruffled collar the nonagenarian wears on the cover of her new book, “Accidental Icon,” and sports Apfel’s signature elaborate jewelry and thick-rimmed glasses.
“Iris Apfel is a fashion role model for Barbie with her singular style vision, entrepreneurial spirit and independence,” Mattel said in a statement. “Her long-spanning career makes her the perfect subject of a one-of-a-kind doll, the highest honor Barbie bestows.”
While the doll is not for sale, two “Styled By” Barbies will go on sale this fall. The dolls will miniature pieces inspired by Apfel’s Rara Avis accessories brand.
Apfel mentioned that a Barbie was being made in her likeness during an interview with CNN Style last September. At the time, she said she found the project “totally hysterical.”
Despite being born almost four decades before Barbie first appeared in 1959, Apfel appears remarkably wrinkle-free as a doll. Nonetheless, the move marks the latest attempt by its manufacturer, Mattel, to diversify the Barbie range.
Earlier this month, the company marked International Women’s Day by unveiling new additions to its “Shero” collection, a collection of one-off Barbies based on “modern-day role models” like American snowboarder Chloe Kim and British boxer Nicola Adams. The “Inspiring Women” line – also announced on International Women’s Day – included dolls based on three pioneering figures: aviator Amelia Earhart, NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson and Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.
The Barbie of Kahlo, however, fueled controversy over its well-defined eyebrows (Kahlo was known for having a unibrow) and inaccurately light eyes.
On Instagram, actress Salma Hayek, who played Kahlo in the 2002 biopic “Frida,” wrote: “#fridakahlo never tried to be or look like anyone else. She celebrated her uniqueness. How could they turn her into a Barbie(?)”
The latest Barbies have also added to a long-running debate about the doll’s body shapes. Despite the aspirational characters depicted in the “Sheroes” collection, the toys have been accused of being too thin.
However, in recent years, Mattel has made efforts to expand the variety of body shapes available, offering tall, petite and curvy dolls, among others. In 2016, plus-size model Ashley Graham insisted that a Barbie based on her appearance was designed without a thigh gap.