MadameAlexander

Here Comes the Bride...

Brides are and have been one of the perennial favorites of the Alexander Doll Company. Mid century, these were among the most glamorous of their doll lines — perhaps giving Madame Alexander an opportunity to enjoy some fantasy in her fashion doll creations. This Elise Bride is from 1960, which was a fascinating transition for the Alexander as they turned the corner regarding their fashion doll philosophy.

While 21" Cissy was the companies cash-cow from 1955-1958, that large fashion doll trend started to lag in 1959. By 1960, Cissy was essentially a portrait doll in period costuming except for the Bride and Queen of that years line up. Elise often would mirror her bigger sister Cissy, and this is a nice example how they would sometimes be similar, but different. Elise, however, would continue in the line as a fashion doll for quite awhile and get a major transformation in the mid 1960s and go forward into the 1980s.

Princess Margaret was defiantly the bride of the year with her Westminster Abbey wedding May 6, 1960, to Antony Armstrong-Jones. On the other end, March 4, 1960, Lucille Ball filed for divorce from Desi Arnaz.

Elise 16 1/2" Bride No. 1735 mint in box from 1960 by Madame Alexander... Cissy of this year would also have a variation of this bride.

Heavy slipper satin, beaded lace, cathedral length bridal veil and a coronet of flowers - Elise reflects on her choices.

The 21" Cissy version of this doll - No. 2180 from 1960. Cissy, from 1960 through her final year in 1962, sometimes received false eyelashes over their factory eyelashes.

Princess Margaret had the wedding of the year in May of 1960.  Her wedding gown was designed by Royal Family favorite designer Norman Hartnell, who also designed her sister, Elizabeth’s wedding dress in 1947.

Three Madame's of Cloth Dolls

Early felt Lenci circa 1930s — with her menagerie of friends.

The dolls of Lenci are among the most prized in doll collection. Starting in the 1920s, Lenci was an expensive Italian doll with precision workmanship that adult collectors were immediately drawn to. Its creator, Elena Scavini (her nickname was Lenci), developed the wonderful felt pressed faces,  their pouty lips and sideways-glancing eyes. The dolls from the art deco period of the 1920s and 1930s are especially appreciated today.

11” Georgene Averill_1930 - professionally known as Madame Hendren.

11” Georgene Averill_1930 - professionally known as Madame Hendren.

A contemporary of Lenci was Georgene Averill. From New York City, Lenci was clearly an inspiration. Between the two World Wars, the United States had to come forward with new doll concepts to replace what had mostly been a European market.  

Georgene Averill was very much on the same path, in the same decade as Beatrice Alexander. Both women entrepreneurs started in New York City, circa 1920 with flat faced cloth dolls. Averill's first big success was the Raggedy Ann dolls.

Flat faced 1930s Alice in Wonderland and much more pronounced facial features of a 1940 Suzie Q.

In the 1920s, the dolls of Lenci became a design inspiration for Alexander to refine her own flat faced cloth dolls made by Beatrice and her sisters. Molded facial features started to appear on Alexanders cloth dolls in the early 1930s. With Lenci's influence,  the Alexander cloth dolls would take on more facial definition. Some of the dolls of Beatrice Alexander and Geogene Averill are so similar, it's difficult to tell them apart.

Georgene Averill, a contemporary of both Beatrice Alexander and Lenci, would all three adopt “Madame” to become Madame Lenci, Madame Hendren and Madame Alexander. Madame Alexander seemed to waver between  Madame & Madam - finally settling on the "e" at the end.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the dolls of Madame Lenci became a design inspiration for Madame Alexander to refine her own flat faced cloth dolls.

Elise 1964 Houndstooth Suit

Exploring fashion always turns up trends du jour — sometimes lasting a decade and sometimes just a season. The houndstooth suit of our featured 1964 Elise is a wonderful example of a fashion trend in miniature. Houndstooth originated in Scotland in the 1800s and was originally worn as an outer garment of woven wool cloth by shepherds. Fast forward 130 years and houndstooth became a symbol of wealth, worn by the upper class in Europe and for American mens suits.  Christian Dior used houndstooth, which was one of their favorite design motifs. The 1960s saw the pattern revived by American fashion designer Geoffrey Beene - sometimes used with lace, and a favorite for his women's dresses, coats and a wide range of accessories. The houndstooth pattern would be a huge trend throughout the 1960s — even used by Chevrolet for car seat upholstery. Home decor got the houndstooth touch with fabrics, wall covering and carpet design. Returning again, designer Tom Ford featured houndstooth in his fall 2015 mens collection. Houndstooth was a 2015 fashion favorite on the European runways, showing up in Paris and Milan.

Elise wears her very trendy 1964 houndstooth suit with the contrasting large white pique cotton collar with an accent of lipstick red velvet bow, heels and coordinating red straw hat  — very much à la Geoffrey Beene.

Not only did Madame Alexander capture the houndstooth moment in 1960s fashion, but the new silhouette of fashion and the influence of mens clothing accents being used in women's fashion.

Dior houndstooth short jacket with "fly away" back and black wool pencil skirt - From the 1948 spring collection.

           Geoffrey Beene - featuring some of his mid-1960s design using houndstooth fabrics.