1964 was the last year for Elise in this more familiar mold and body design. She was about to graduate in 1965 into a more long neck and straight torso design. Elise had also grown to 18 inches, from her debut in 1957 of 16 1/2 inches. Now that the Alexander Doll Company was strongly moving from hard plastic to vinyl, this Elise head is vinyl. The popularity of ballet in America was still huge, and it was growing in its influence in fashion. Audrey Hepburn was one of many influences in this trend. A former ballerina herself, her iconic "Funny Face" dance sequence in black leotards and black ballet flats helped bring ballet in another form into mainstream fashion. The ballerina length for dresses was another popular inturpitation of the movement of ballet into fashion.
The capris pant was part of a fashion statement that brought pants into the wardrobe of mid century women. At first in the 1930s, it was considered quite daring for women to wear pants in public. It was more likely pant designs by Elsa Schiaparelli would be worn by high profile women like Katherine Hepburn or the Duchess of Windsor. With World War II it became grudgingly acceptable for women to wear pants due to the tasks at hand. Fashion leaders of the 1950s into the 1960s like Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, and finally, Laura Petrie of the Dick Van Dyke Show made them part of the American fashion norm.
Capris pants come mid calf — not to be confused with ankle length toreador pants — both which could be dressed up and worn with either flats or high heels. There were cigarette pants that are high waisted long pants. There were clam diggers that came below the knee to mid calf with a cuff or drawstring (Doris Day). Finally the more casual petal pushers which were first used as a casual sport pant that was ideal for bike riding.
Another American icon to wear pants on the movie screen was Marilyn Monroe. In the 1953 Gentlemen Prefer Blonds, Marilyn wears pants and sash that was very similar to Cissy's own 1957 Black Capris Set. William Travilla designed many of Marilyn's iconic movie costumes, and rarely put her in pants. One of his most memorable dresses for Marilyn, the Seven Year Itch white halter dress that reacts to the rush of wind of the NYC subway, recently sold at auction for 4.6 million dollars.
The Elise Ballerina... Alexander needed the right model and voila - Elise was created with adjustable ankles to accommodate a huge trend sweeping the country. Not only as a doll, but fashion was gobbling up elements of ballet costume design into couture fashion. Not only the ballerina length (3/4 length or tea length), but tulle and the ballet slipper were huge. The leotard used for practice became very fashionable too, especially when Audrey Hepburn, a ballerina herself, wore one in the 1957 movie (Think Pink!) Funny Face. Choreographer Balanchine remade American Ballet in his own image and classical Russian training — very thin and very young ballerina's were now in. Elise was the right doll at the right time.