IF you are a girl, I am sure that your childhood would not have been the same without Barbies. I am pretty convinced that you used to collect many of them together with those unnecessary accessories such as the Barbie car, the Barbie yacht or the Barbie mega villa. Therefore, IF you are a Barbie lover or you have been one, you should definitely keep reading.
However, Barbie is not just for girls: also many guys became addicted to Barbies and dolls during their childhood. A striking example is Jian Yang, a Singapore guy who since his 5 years old, started a private dolls’ collection. As time passed, the collection got bigger and bigger and now, Jian owns the 2nd world’s largest Barbie collection. The Barbie mania is popular also among male celebrities like Johnny Depp. The Pirates of Caribbean’s actor started purchasing the iconic dolls for his daughter: as soon as she grew up and did not use them anymore, Depp decided to continue his commitment, creating an insane collection of Barbies.
However, Depp cannot compete with Yang, whose collection is absolutely unbeatable. IF you wanna get to know Mr. Yang better, you should keep reading this post.
Interview to Jian Yang:
The most curious thing about Jian, which is what makes him so unique all around the world, consists of his ability of making haute couture dresses for his Barbies. Yang uses a wide range of tissues from toilet paper, to hotel toilet paper and restaurant tissues.
Before getting there, you should first know how everything started and Yang turned his main passion into an actual business. Let’s ask him:
When did your collection start?
“I started my collection in 1984 when I was 5 years old. This collection was the result of my passion for toys. I’ve always loved toys. Among them, my favourite one was Barbie.”
Yang explained that Barbies are so special to him because they have always been relevant in the society throughout time, preserving their perpetual iconicity. The variety of Barbies in the collection reflects the beautiful diversity of our world.
As Yang declared in other interviews, he owns 12,000 dolls and counting in his collection. This incredible achievement made him the largest collector in Asia and the 2nd largest around the world.
Did many people judge you for this collection of dolls?
I asked Jian this question because Barbie represents and always had, the stereotyped female toy and associating it with a boy may sound weird. People may not totally get Jian’s passion for collecting dolls: this hobby might have brought into question his virility since we live in a society full of bias.
However, this was not the case. As a matter of fact, Mr. Yang replied to this question, saying: “Not at all. In fact, people find my collection very amusing.” People are enchanted by the pics of his living room: the walls are entirely covered by thousands of plastic dolls. IF you wanna see, have a look down below:
What are the most meaningful pieces to you in your collection?
“There are too many to mention. But there are definitely many meaningful pieces.”
Since it is hard decision for Yang to select his favourite pieces, I decided to choose the Barbies from the collection I like the most. Among my fav, there are:
Are dolls expensive to purchase? What was the most expensive doll you ever bought?
“Not every doll but of course, some are expensive. My most expensive purchase was SGD 3,600.”
As Yang already mentioned, the most expensive Barbie he owns is the result of a partnership with Swarovsky: this doll wears a beautiful Swarovsky shiny dress and there are not other copies available on the market!
What does it mean collecting for you?
“This dolls’ collection means nothing but personal satisfaction and ambition.” That’s absolutely understandable, especially because Jian went beyond the collection. Last year, he released a book called #FLUSHABLEFASHION, where he showed off his abilities of making toilet paper haute couture dresses. It includes many images relative to its greatest work.
Can you tell us more about your book “Flushable Fashion”: what is it about?
“It’s about dresses I make for Barbie out of toilet paper. I travel a lot and when I do, I use hotel toilet paper to make barbie dresses. Now, the dresses have been featured in VOGUE Italia, Harpers Bazaar and NYLON magazines.”
Among my favourite dresses realised by Jian, there are these ones:
Barbie has always been criticized for conveying an unhealthy image of the body: right now, Barbie created 3 new bodies (petite, curvy, tall) what do you think about this decision since you saw the evolution of Barbie’s body throughout your collection?
“I understand why they did it. But if I had to choose, I would still prefer the traditional Barbie body.“
I read that you let the MINT museum of toys in Singapore display over 300 of your dolls for an exhibition in celebration of Barbie anniversary last year: how was it? Did it represent a big achievement for you?
“I figured that before I turned 40, I would like a book and an exhibition and I actually did it. So yeah, it was a big achievement for me.”
IF you are not familiar with the MINT Museum of Toys, you should know that last September, this museum organized a beautiful exhibition of Barbies featuring the private collection of Jian Yang. As I said, 300 dolls have been borrowed and consequently displayed in order to celebrate the iconic doll anniversary.
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