Sunday, February 28, 2016

Romancing the (Silk) Stone

 Dolldom will always fight for the underdog. When a doll is down, Dolldom goes to the rescue. Why? Because Dolldom believes that all dolls, regardless of their origins, are the offspring of a dream: to replicate in miniature the ideals of current cultural values. In our eyes, "Classic Black Dress" Barbie is indeed the vision of a fashion model as Robert Best illustrates in his exquisite artwork: long, lean, delicate, with a flexible torso and expressive fingers.

"Classic Black Dress" Barbie Fashion Model (also known as "Classic Bad Dress") has been designed to usher a new era for the Silkstone line of Barbie collector dolls, designed by Mr. Best. But her life has been nothing but tumultuous. Since her arrival on the scene, Miss CBD has been dissected, maligned, and reduced to the level of bad doll due to a series of unfortunate events: manufacturing gaps that leave seams of body parts unfinished, weak spots in joints, an articulation design that does not deliver a hand that will remain on a hip, and unannounced changes to the body proportions of the doll. These combine to create a perfect storm. And what's left behind is a doll that is not feeling the love that initially she intended to provoke.

So Dolldom editors decided to verify if indeed "CBD" is bad. Design and manufacturing issues aside (and Dolldom hopes that Mattel will address these - if not doing so already), is "CBD" a bad idea? As we addressed in a previous post,  "CBD" she is the future of the Barbie Fashion Model Collection. But to be so, she ought to be able to bridge the new with the very beautiful past of this groundbreaking line. For example:  Will she be capable of sharing a design aesthetic with previous Silkstone dolls? Will the fashions produced in previous years fit her well? Will "CBD" be able to wear a gown? Rock a vintage Retros look by Liz Cole? Proudly model James Bogue's Vogues?  Provide hours of unadulterated doll play? Propose new posing alternatives?

The following exclusive portfolio is meant to address these questions (no fashions were altered to accommodate the doll's new proportions) and to invite bona fide Barbie doll fans to give "CBD" a chance by playing dress-up with her.

Can "CBD" look elegantly tailored?

In "Boulevard", "CBD" cuts an impressive figure. She's luxe, classic, and very ready for autumn in New York.

Big chunky jewelry is always in style. Take note, Mattel.

Is "CBD" the ball gown type?

In the Pink! On a blonde! Magic.

"CBD" loves her pink satin and tulle confection.

Can "CBD" vogue in Bogue's Vogues?


And when the coat comes off, "CBD" shows off the sexy fit of the long column gown below.

Retro maven?
Yes! "CBD" is the perfect tourist in Bermuda in a Retros set made with vintage fabric and a miniature Enid Collins bag. Necklace by Joy Jarred. Vintage straw hat.

Can "CBD" move? And move us with her movements?

Most certainly! The articulated rib cage and waist combine to give the Silkstone "CBD" Barbie doll more flexible expressions.

In this qi pao by Joe Tai, "CBD" gets us all in a mood for love.

Suits in the boardroom?
"CBD" is chairwoman of the board in the classic "Lunch at the Club" issued in 2000.

Can "CBD" pay homage to the Teenage Fashion Model of 1959?

100%. In a Retros sheath with functioning buttons and button hole back closure, opera net stockings, black gloves, vintage straw hat, platform suede shoes by Paul Shangby, and jewelry from "Dusk to Dawn", "CBD" is nothing but vintage beauty. Her lunchbox is a key chain issued in the mid 1990s.

Dolldom, at its most constructive, proposes that Mattel, Robert Best, and the many other hard-working folk at The Barbie Collection consider:

1. Re-evaluating the design and execution of the elbow joint. An articulated Silkstone ought to be able to place her hand on her hip. She ought to be able to pose and keep a pose. She ought to sit and cross her legs. She ought to do these and not break or end up with compromised joints.

2. Consider imposing higher quality control standards to their factory in Indonesia, where this doll was produced.

3. Give collectors what they want. Offer both the frozen as well as the articulated bodies. This new iteration could well be an off-shoot of the line that focuses on designs with a more contemporary bent. The original body dolls would be offered in "Atelier" style designs.

4. Offer accessories. It's what makes a doll a fashion doll. Jewelry sets are long past due. A hat set. Hosiery and glove sets too. And what about shoes? The "Opera" stilettos in many colors. Boots à la Dulcissima but without the embroidery.

5. Design hairstyles that are in-scale. Nothing kills a doll faster than a head of hair gone wild. Neat, classic, versatile are key words. To scale chignons. To scale ponytails. 70s Cher hair. A fashion model is not a shampoo hair model. Do not design a hairstyle that will be impossible to replicate in production with specific budget constraints.

We will close this celebration of "CBD" beauty with one of BFMC's best videos: Atelier

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Afternoon Walk

Gum is one of Joey Versaw's many characters. When Dolldom first met Gum, Mr. Versaw was introducing his First Love line of male dolls and Gum was one of the members of the group. Dolldom's editors agreed that Gum had an uncanny resemblance to Fred Astaire. How could we not like him? A  3-D printed doll that evokes the ultimate form of male elegance is not a common occurrence.

For this late February entry, Gum models separates taken from several fashions designed for Fashion Royalty's male dolls. His boots are by Dragons in Dreams and his glasses are vintage Takara.  In his "Gable" wig, Gum is both classic yet modern, and of course sexy.

For more on Gum and his friends, visit Mr. Versaw's workshop - it's a place where creative freedom reigns supreme and high quality hand painted dolls are offered to discerning collectors.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A New (Silk) Stone Age

The Stone Age gave way to The Bronze Age. As 2016 begins, changes rock the quintessentially classic Barbie Fashion Model Collection, made of Silkstone.

Evolution is the name of the game in the world of fashion dolls too and as lines begin to stagnate, designers go back to the drawing board to see where improvements may be made in order to keep a beloved character fresh and relevant. The Barbie doll is the ultimate example of this constant self-actualization. But at Mattel, home of the Barbie doll, changes are sometimes unsettling and abrupt. Back in 1967, children were invited to abandon their 1965 and 1966 dolls in order to get the new and improved Twist-and-Turn model.

 After fifteen years of designing the best that Mattel could create for the Barbie doll,  head designer of the Barbie Fashion Model Collection Robert Best introduces a new era of Silkstone dolls featuring more complex articulation than the six-points with which the lined debuted in 2000. The new BFMC dolls boast thirteen points of articulation promising the beloved vintage-inspired line to give the Barbie doll the ability to increase her posibing abilities. A big task to fulfill given the fact that the original dolls - although frozen at the elbows, wrists, and knees- were given sculptural bodies that evoked the movements and poses of the most iconic flesh and blood fashion models. A right hand that perfectly fell on the right hip now gives way to the promise of two hands on hips or of a hand that can hold a bag by twisting the wrist.

But this transformation has not been without growing pains. The first doll in the line, "Classic Black Dress", has been much examined on social media sites. Condemned by many for the rough seams and stubborn joints,  2016's BFMC  "Classic Black Dress" Barbie has ignited a veritable revolution but mostly for the wrong reasons. For not only has the articulation changed, so have the body dimensions.

The sacrosanct and ever-so-elegant body that so ideally illustrated mid 20th century ideals of feminine beauty gives way to s slimmer physique. Slimmer as in a reduced bust line that challenges the proper fit of fashions designed on previous years. Will "Classic Black Dress" Barbie be able to fit in a legacy of gowns and suits? Yes, of course she will. But will these fit her properly? Not at all. The new body changed proportions and will now require its own line of fashions.

"Classic Black Dress" is a classic Barbie style. Is it BFMC style? Not necessarily. What it is is an invitation to play with a new concept. A thinner, less curvaceous doll that will usher a period of more youthful fashion designs for the line. Just look: Barbie is wearing a little black dress. But the dress is a mini. Instead of high heels, the doll wears tall boots. It's not difficult to anticipate what else will come from Mattel and Robert Best for this line. So it's time to say good-bye to the line as it debuted and to consider accepting the new look.

The doll is fun to redress and even begs the collector to do it. Wearing nothing but the dress and the boots, the doll comes alive with small touches such as black opera net stockings (that hide the unfinished knee joints), and a simple necklace and Chanel-inspired cuff from "Dusk to Dawn." The plastic boots will be great for wet weather fashions as for this dress nothing but platform pumps will suffice. The turquoise suedette pumps by e-Bay seller Paul Zhangby bring an unexpected touch of color and much needed finesse. And for that touch of whimsy - Barbie carries a reproduction Enid Collins purse made by the amazing Liz Retros for her Retros line. Little things mean a lot. 

Dolldom looks forward to seeing where this new iteration of the Silkstone line goes. Hopefully, design and production issues will be addressed and maybe even both bodies will be offered in future years. As  it stands, the new BFMC is defiantly breaking away for its origins and proposing a new way to play with our beloved Barbie doll.

Saturday, February 20, 2016


Joey Versaw created the first 3-D printed fashion doll, Mary Magpie. A character based on Mr. Versaw's drawings, Miss Magpie brought forth innovation and a style firmly rooted in vintage traditions. Mr. Versww has continued to expand her world by designing and creating male and female fiends and offering very small editions of them via his Etsy store and Haute Doll magazine. 
Dolldom is honored to introduce the newest member of the family! Her name is Flannery and she is a limited of 25 pieces and is available for pre-ordering now. Most collectors seek immediate gratification - the want to purchase the doll and have him or her in 48 hours. But before you reach that conclusion consider this: pre-ordering means that your Flannery doll with be customized to your own specifications as she will be made with your selection of body type - from Mary classic va-voom pin-up girl bod articulated at the neck, arms and hips or or with the fully articulated one that also offers options: smaller busted torso to fit smaller busted clothing such as Model Muse or the classic bust which fit the full figured Barbie doll clothing from 1959-99. Moreover, you also decide her skin tone! From 1950s pale skin to a rich café au lait.

Most amazing is Flannery's wig - another first in the fashion doll world. Not only is it 3-D printed it is also reversible. So one wig is really two, giving your Flannery doll attitude adjustment with the turn of the cap.

In this exclusive portfolio, two Flannery dolls - one Caucasian and one African American model a Bogue's Vogue dress and BFMC jewelry. It's a sweet homage to vintage style.

Welcome Flannery!  

Flannery's story as written by Mr. Versaw: "Flannery is shy but a force to be reckoned with. A girl's best friend and ally - but don't step on this girls toes. Her dream is to become a librarian (she jokes) but she is the head buyer for the worlds leading department store and close gal pals with Miss Mary Magpie."

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Grand Dame Zita Charles

The world of Gene Marshall is a richly textured realm filled to the brim with the lore of Old Hollywood, back when the studio system ruled the film industry. Mel Odom poured his love of classic American film into the creation of his Gene Marshall line and the rest is part of the history of fashion dolls.

Zita Charles is one of the seven characters created by Mr. Odom to populate Gene Marshall's world. Miss Charles came into production while the Gene Marshall line was being produced by Integrity Toys. Here's her biography as she was presented in 2008:

"As a major star of the late silent era, Zita Louise (as she was then called) was the epitome of the Jazz Age glamour. Known as the "Too Much Girl", Zita forged a reputation as a party girl and was a favorite of the Hollywood gossip columns. Counts and "princes" seemed always to be proposing to her in front of a fountain while the cameras were rolling. Everyone and anyone just wanted to be with Zita Charles for her vampish look, sassy style and elegant vintage inspired gowns."

This year, JAMIEshow and Mr. Odom bring Miss Charles back as a resin ball-jointed doll, much to the delight of a steadfast fan base. Already sold out, "Poised for Success" Zita Charles is, like her other JAMIEshow friends, a luxurious, hand painted doll ready to transform with wigs and dress. Like her other six predecessors, "Poised for Success" Zita Charles fulfills the company's philosophy: one doll will yield as many transformations as the collector can envision.

In this Dolldom exclusive, Miss Charles is the quintessential grande dame of Old Hollywood style.

Le rouge et le noir. Miss Charles models a classic look by Meg Fashion Doll and a silver "Sofia" wig cap by JAMIEshow.

Wrap Party. Zita and Gene celebrate the end of shooting in elegant style.
Miss Charles wears the Integrity Toys-produced "Wrap Party" while 'Holiday Gala" Gene borrows "Heart of Gold" from Ivy Jordan. Miss Charles hair by Time of Doll.

They had faces then.

Beautiful Hostess. In a Joshard lace and satin set, Miss Charles entertains at home. Her wig cpawas restyled by Kathy Johnson.

Valentina! In a Joshard gown with red lace overlay, Miss Charles is Cupid's Muse. Wig cap restyled by Kathy Johnson.

Fifth Avenue Fun! "Poised for Success" and a Retros hat provide Miss Charles with the right combination of class and sass. Purse by Bambola.

Pin by Marsha Friend.

Arrival at the Premiere.  Miss Charles causes and sensation in "Parfait" while Trent escorts her in his elegant formal attire produced by Ashton-Drake.

Miss Charles wig cap restyled by Kathy Johnson.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Making of Séverine's Advertisement for FDQ Magazine

Julian Stanislaw Kalinowksi decided to start 2016 with a bang by advertising his Séverine, Miss Sévinyl, and Bunty Lee's now aborted Rachel dolls in Patricia Henry's Fashion Doll Quarterly magazine. What a better way to profile these 21st century fashion dolls so imbued with the zeitgeist of the late 1960s?

Since these captivating ladies seem to have arrived via time-machine to lucky collectors the world over, a decision was taken to mimic page 25 from Sear's 1964 Wishbook Christmas catalog.

The stunning collage features Ruth Handler's iconic Barbie and her best friend Midge modeling elegant fashions designed by Charlotte Johnson and created by hand by many gifted seamstresses in Japan. A half-page image shows Barbie and Ken in their formal best.

Since Séverine, Miss Sévinyl, and Rachel (soon to be available as Solange) are hand painted and hand coiffed dolls that wear mostly one-off handmade couture, the association seemed natural.

Dolldom's photographers and stylists went to work immediately once the special models arrived from England dressed in the very best hand made creations of Liz Cole for Retros, Rosina Haskell, Tania Lawrence, Sylvia Campbell, Juliet Whorton...even a vintage Franklin Lim-Liao! These are the resulting images:

Designer: Tania Lawrence

Designer: Tania Lawrence

Designer: Tania Lawrence

Designer: Tania Lawrence

Designer: Liz Cole for Retros

Designer: Rosina Haskell

Designer: Sylvia Campbell

Designer: Liz Cole for Retros

Designer: Juliet Whorton

Designer: Sylvia Campbell

Designer: Rosina Haskell

Designer: Tania Lawrence

Designer: Tania Lawrence

Designer: Tania Lawrence

Designer: Liz Cole for Retros

Designer: Liz Cole for Retros

Designer: Juliet Whorton

Designer: Sylvia Campbell

Designer: Franklin Lim Liao

Designer: Rosina Haskell

The formal Barbie and Ken photo called for all out glamour.

Designer: Rosina Haskell

After a careful selection process headed by Mr. Kalinowski, the images were sent to graphic designer genius Fokke Hoekman in Berlin so that the final magical collage could be created and sent to Fashion Doll Quarterly.

Make sure that you get a copy of Fashion Doll Quarterly so that you may have a print version of the ad. Vive Séverine.