You are famed for owning one of the globe’s biggest collections of Barbies. Anyone who has visited your home or seen your collection in photos is struck by the impressive display. Can you talk us through what were the origins of this obsession, and how does it look like for you now?
My sister is the one who gave me my first doll. She received it as a Christmas present, didn’t like it, and I did. I think the turning point of when it changed from a casual hobby to serious collection was when I started buying $79 dolls instead of $24 ones. I still remember the first ‘expensive’ doll I purchased — the Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With the Wind edition in 1994. It cost a whole eight weeks worth of allowance, a lot to a 15 year-old! Growing up, I didn’t fit into a particular type of someone who might more obviously collect dolls, or even remotely seem like a designer nor creative. Instead I held a variety of different, sometimes contrasting, interests. Some days I’d be bleeding from a sports injury, being a school swimmer, but kneeling in my Barbie Dreamhouse trying to find a suitable nightie for Barbie to sleep in.
Nowadays, when I encounter my current or new dolls, what stands out to me is their personality. I love their facial expressions, skin colours, hair textures. My collection is eclectically curated, with dolls from the same series grouped together on the same shelf. To the untrained eye, it could be disorganised, but I’m very clear that my home is not a museum. And do I actually remember where each doll is located? Absolutely. Every single one of them.