Did you know there is a permanent Barbie Expo exhibit in Montreal? With the Barbie movie all the rage this year, it’s the perfect time to celebrate fashion in a miniature form.
As a kid, I played with Barbie and her friends. We had the Barbie camper, Barbie blow up beanbag furniture and the Barbie pool. Plus, Barbie had a million different outfits and crazy high heels. I remember we went to the regional farmer’s market where we met a lady who sewed tiny custom Barbie couture gowns. My parents let me invest in one. I chose a navy blue velvet strapless dress with a pale blue gauzy long skirt. Well I thought my Barbie was really styling and from that day forward, I had a new appreciation (at age 6) for fashion design.
Fast-forward 40 years. My husband, Al, decided to surprise me with a winter trip to Montreal. This was our last trip before covid hit. The room-sized Imagine Van Gogh exhibit had just come to North America from Europe and I just had to see it. Montreal was the first city to host the exhibit. I talk more about the AMAZING Van Gogh experience here. But we had the whole weekend to also immerse ourselves into the city of Montreal and see what we could discover.
So fun fact about Montreal: the city hosts the Barbie Expo, and has for years! And if you are a fan of Barbie or have an appreciation for couture fashion, you must go see it!
The Barbie Expo takes up a back section of the Les Cours Mont-Royal shopping mall right in the heart of downtown Montreal. Follow the signs through the mall and you will happen upon a trendy black and white space hung with crystal chandeliers and rows of brightly lit museum cases. You will find hundreds of Barbies dressed in miniature couture outfits crafted by the biggest designers from around the world and individually styled for the runway. It’s all rather fascinating the more you look at them. Each doll is decked in amazing detail, from the stitches on the dresses to the tiny shoes, handbags and hairstyles. I was mesmerized and had a heck of a time picking my favorite.
After the first few showcases, I made a game of the adventure- could I guess the designer before reading the sign? There’s Bob Mackie, Givenchy, Kate Spade, Versace and Badgley Mischka. Tim Gunn from Project Runway even had a Barbie in the mix. Other dolls were designed as celebrities such as Elvis, Audrey Hepburn and Prince William and Kate Middleton, while others represented major brands like Ferrari, Coca-Cola and Harley Davidson. There were also a wedding gown display and Barbies dressed in traditional costuming from around the world.
And no visit is complete without visiting the Barbie runway fashion show and then hopping into the life size Barbie selfie box and taking a few pics.
And what was super cool- the exhibition is free, but please drop some money in the donation box on your way through. All donations go to the Quebec Make a Wish Foundation.