This is such a magnificent doll — a great example of this 1956 No. 2041 Cissy to help close out 2015. There was a lot going on this year... and as I'm writing this, there still is! I must say, however, there certainly have been some great experiences with fellow collectors during 2015, along with MADC and the team at the Alexander Doll Company. This seems to be the best moment to pause and reflect on the many events and projects from this year, along with the wonderful emails and Facebook time from some of you. It's sometimes a crazy and daunting world — and dolls continue to be a safe haven to catch our breath. Thank you to those of you that have found your way here to enjoy, reflect and regroup.
Elise will dance into 2015 for us at dolledition.com - and so far so good! More familiar is her sister from 1959, Elise gold ballerina No. 1810. The 1961 version is more obscure with it's delicate interpretation using accents of pale pink roses. Thank you Elise for helping us into the new year - a new year full of new dolls, new adventures and challenges.
The New York Toy Fair, where many of the dolls of the Alexander Doll Company have debuted for generations, is around the corner. The first of the Madame Alexander Premieres (madc.org - February 19-21) is taking place in Fort Lee, New Jersey following on the last day of Toy Fair. The 2015 MADC Convention is in Dallas this year. I'll be announcing soon, first through madc.org, a very special Cissy Designer Event tied into the Dallas 2015 Convention. I'm chairing the 2015 MADC Fall Friendship Luncheons, with a one of a kind "family" of dolls I'm designing. Their story is very interesting and may catch you by surprise.
This is the beginning of a very big New Year for dolledition.com, with some very interesting vintage dolls waiting their turn to be showcased. Challenges keep it interesting and inspire new discoveries. I sincerely hope you will be along with me to make this journey into this exciting new year of 2015!
You can see more of My Debutante at the Dropbox link:
My Debutante - coming soon to a Madame Alexander Convention (near you?). A tribute to my longtime friend, costume designer, Cissy collector extraordinaire and Alzheimer's patient. Richard did costumes for TV, stage and for the LA Opera. He started out doing children's clothes in New York City, which gave him a unique understanding of commercial sewing. As these things tend to happen, we crossed paths at a doll show in the late 1980s in Glendale, CA, both budding Cissy collectors, and stayed friends during the good, best and ugliest times. In hind site, our friendship was long distance because my design career tended to take me where the action was, which was for many years a confused place called Las Vegas.
One of the ways of communicating was helping Richard develop a project he called "Debutante". He liked to create clothes for Cissy that were timeless - vintage but they could be worn today. He often tried costume ideas on Cissy first - so Debutante could, for the most part, be translated for people too. Another part of staying in touch was attending the Madame Alexander Doll Club Conventions - usually if they were within driving distance. While sometimes getting there was an emotional and "will they or won't they" roller coaster ride, the MADC event itself was sublime. Getting away from life's ick factor was such a relief, and a chance to be, well somewhere from silly to stupid. Richard also used a couple of the conventions to test the waters of his Debutante concept, and to enjoy the company of others that came from hither and yon to participate in these virtual doll summer camps.
As Richard has coped with his Alzheimer's, he started sewing and creating for Cissy with an intense passion that I think only his own minds eye could completely understand. He wanted to recreate the scenario of the conventions, the elements of the unknown, new and rekindled friendships all around dolls, dolls and more dolls. For the past two conventions we attempted to make it happen, but Alzheimer's is not a patient condition. In mid-planning, the 2013 trip was canceled, and the idea was retired once and for all. With the help of Richards brother and wife, I've gathered some of the outfits Richard was working on and put them together as we would have done in years past for his Debutante. This wardrobe, along with a hardcover book of My Debutante will be donated in Richards name to the 2014 August 6-9 MADC Convention in Philadelphia to be auctioned off. Hopefully, this will add a little excitement and merriment for all - and leave a pleasant footnote to Richard's love of dolls, costuming, people and MADC.
I visited the newly opened Charles James exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum. Part of the experience, was the experience. I was there before the museum opened to be greeted by others more determined than myself to be head of the line - both lines. Charles James place in fashion history is unique, for better or worse, he did it his way. James was one of the rare ones of the Arts in that his skill and talents were so compelling that he would be the go-to designer other designers went for inspiration and ideas. Not the least adverse to some old fashion BS to throw into the mix, James had the kind of life and career that keeps you on the edge of your seat reading about... the highs are so high and the lows, well Google him for yourself.
The Charles James vision is clear and uncluttered unlike some others. Dior, god that he was, created design mania to stay front and center of the media. Controversy sells and sells very well. While sometimes the great French couture designers of the 1950s can get a little hazy as to who designed what, the work of Charles James looks like none other than his own. Some of his design is an acquired taste. James could get so esoteric, that there is nothing to compare it too. At his best, he is just simply the best of class. James viewed his design as art. His work, so magnificently displayed at the Metropolitan Museum could easily move some to tears. These gowns echo the intense frustration and pain those in the rare stratosphere of originality must sometimes travel through to get to the other side of a successful solution.
Life long friend and school mate Cecile Beaton captured James at his most iconic during the 1940s and 50s. The sumptuous baroque gowns, photographed and lit to perfection in equally important architectural settings, in unique color pallets that are just as masterful as the engineering of the gowns themselves. When he moved from Europe to New York, James hit his design and social stride. Fatefully turning a nurse and makeup shopgirl with the wrong accent into Elizabeth Arden, James was on his way. When Arden married a Russian prince, James designed her trousseau. This in turn helped him meet the creme de la creme, who would help subsidize his art. "Mathematical tailoring combined with the flow of drapery were his forte", noted Vogue in 1944. But finishing on time was a problem. He would borrow back a dress from one client, only to lend it to another. Worse still, he would lone it out for advertising. The Johnson & Johnson's famous "Modess Because" ad campaigns that ran from 1948 through the 1970s are full of gowns James borrowed back form clients only to appear in these high-fashion, couture-themed ads.
After I graduated from college, I lived in Philadelphia for a year. I occasionally visited a friend of mine from school who landed with the Metropolitan Opera. He lived at the Chelsea Hotel in New York. He would always fill me in on the scoop de jour - who's painting was in the lobby in lue of rent. Just as interesting were those on their way up or on their way down and left, or moved in the middle of the night. While I certainly recognized the reverence of his words when speaking of neighbor Mr. James, I alas, at the time, did not make a connection. However, I do remember the stories of the maids refusing to clean his room after just too much of too much. Endearing were his stories of late night chats with the charming and endlessly sharing Mr. James that would help shape his own design career with those nocturnal words of wisdom.
It had to be done - alas, Apple, who was hosting my website, is no longer in the website hosting business... so before they shut it down, I've moved on to Squarespace. I hope this version of dolledition will be more interactive, but for now, it is a work in progress.Read More