Barbie’s turned 50 and strangely remains as shapely and improbable as ever – there must be a very ugly portrait somewhere in her attic. Perhaps it’s in Shanghai’s House of Barbie, which opened earlier this month and is a multi-floored, 40,000 sq ft homage to this icon of unachievable femininity.

With an interior by design consultancy Chute Gerdeman and architectural practice Slade Architecture, this store houses the world’s largest collection of Barbie dolls and products.

From the outside, the building’s moulded polycarbonate panels provide references to product packaging and a lattice pattern on the outer glass layer is a motif repeated inside. Internally, the central design element is a three-storey spiral staircase enclosing more than 800 Barbie dolls. The staircase links the three main selling floors: Barbie-related merchandise for girls and women, and of course a dolls floor.

The store also features four activity-led areas: the Barbie Design Center, which details the dolls’ creation; the Barbie Fashion Stage, which offers the chance to parade on a catwalk; a spa for a Barbie-style makeover, and a cafe.

Everything about this store is high-gloss, from the pearlescent fixturing to the pink escalator tube that whisks shoppers up and down.

Richard Dickson, senior vice-president and general manager of the Barbie brand at Mattel (owner and manufacturer), says the store is a “destination where girls of all ages come to spend the entire day and walk out feeling thoroughly enamoured with the Barbie experience”. Sounds like a long day.

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