AT first glance, it appeared as though the world famous Barbie doll and been brought to life on Bournemouth beach. But this was just one of a number of projects carried out by Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) this year to celebrate the popular toy’s 60th birthday.

More than 100 students used the occasion to highlight how Barbie can represent an aspirational employability message – having had more than 200 careers, from astronaut to zoologist. Students were tasked with projects to “highlight the important role that the popular toy has played in educating and inspiring children across the world”.

One student designed and created a life-size toy display case a bespoke replica of Barbie’s original 1959 packaging together with a range of different costumes. including the ‘peaches n’ cream’ ballroom dress, astronaut’s space suit and military uniform.

The six-foot tall box and a real-life model were placed on Bournemouth beach on Barbie’s birthday on March 9, bringing Ruth Handler’s design to life, sporting Barbie’s original costume, a black and white zebra striped swimsuit that was created by Mattel fashion designer Charlotte Johnson.

BA (Hons) Costume and Performance Design Course Leader at AUB, Rebecca Pride, said: “Throughout our course at AUB, we are teaching students who will be working in a range of career roles when they graduate, from film and theatre, to festivals and events. Gender shouldn’t ever be a barrier to success and career progression.”

She added: “Barbie has championed a spirit and determination to further the aspirations of both men and women in their career hopes and dreams, so it’s a perfect fit for us to celebrate her birthday and highlight her brilliant work.”

This month, students are showcasing their costume design work through Barbie60, a video that reflects 60 years of Barbie in 60 seconds.