|Come On Get Happy!|
|Written by Robert Haynes-Peterson|
|Monday, 01 April 2002 00:00|
Building on popular existing lines, and creating new sensations, the folks at AlexÂander have been hard at work for 2002. Among this yearâs surprises, a beautiful Screen Legends series celebrating dynamic actresses of the silver screen, a new Coronation Collection marking the upcoming 50th anniversary of the ascension of Queen Elizabeth II, and an energetic new playdoll serÂiesâHannah Pepper and Her Friends. Beautiful new additions for Cissy, Alex, and other Alexander favorites promise a good year for Alexander collectors of all stripes.
âYouâll also see a difference in the colors, fabric and makeup weâre using this year,â notes Jarvis. âYouâre going to see a lot more of what you see in todayâs world. Our long-time collectors appreciate the freshness, and it will also appeal to the next generation of collector.â
Alex Fairchild Fordâthat paragon of style and editor-in-chief of Ălan magazineâhas a new friend: Jade Lee, a 16-inch, Asian-American vinyl beauty with flowing black hair and sleek good looks. Like Alex, Jade wears haute couture clothes, but hers incorporate a personal East Asian twist.
Each doll will feature a story, and a tiny copy of the magazine.Prices for the Alex series were not finalized at press time. âJade is one of our biggest highlights this year,â says Jarvis. âHer character is that of a young hot architect out of San Francisco. A long-time friend of Alex, sheâs been hired to design Ălanâs sleek new SoHo offices.â
Alex debuted two years ago to great reviews, and was followed last year by Paris Williams, the entertainment editor for Ălan. âParisâ debut at Toy Fair last year was a huge hit,â enthuses Jarvis. âBut Jade will be the new talk of Toy Fair. She is it!â
Although each doll is the same size, they have distinctly different wardrobe âpersonalities.â âGolden Lotus Jade,â for example, is resplendent in a kimono-inspired midriff-bearing outfit decorated with ornate butterflies. With her hair twisted in braids, the âmodern traditionalâ look is completed with a necklace of miniature harmony beads. She is limited to an edition of 1,000.
In addition to âGolden Lotus,â Jade already has a variety of exciting looks, including âCherry Blossomâ and âGraphic Impact,â each wearing urban-chic outfits that will take them from the office to the nightclub, attracting attention along the way. Each is limited to an edition of 900.
Alex and Paris werenât sitting idly by while Jade got all the new looks. They shine too in outfits like âMarket Meetingâ and âTechno Tweed.â Paris works her way into the boardrooms and green rooms of the entertainment world with âVIPâ and limitÂed edition âBackstage Pass.â Both dressÂed Paris dolls are limited to editions of 1,000.
âThe thing thatâs great about these dolls is that we use unique sculpts created for each character,â says Director of Marketing Jane Abrahams. âTheyâre all smart, savvy and wearÂing outfits that come straight off the runways. I would love to have Alexâs wardrobe!â
God Save the Queen
This year marks the beginning of the 50th anniversary Jubilee of the reign of Englandâs Queen Elizabeth II. Crowned on June 2, 1953, a year after the death of her father, King George VI, Elizabeth II and the royal family have captured headlines around the world. Alexander commemorates the event with an updated recreation of its original Coronation Collection, as well as two luxurious replicas of Elizabethâs coronation attire.
The ten-inch âQueen Elizabeth II Processionalâ doll, depicting the new monarch marching towards her coronation ceremony, looks regal in a white brocade sleeveless gown featuring panels with the symbols of the United Kingdom embroidered in goldâleeks from Wales, clover from Ireland, thistle from Scotland and wheat from Great Britain. A vibrant red velvet cape trimmed in gold and faux ermine is secured with faux rubies and highlights recreations of the crown jewels Elizabeth wore that day. The doll is limited to an edition of 500 and costs about $350.
The âQueen Elizabeth II Recessionalâ doll, 21 inches, is equally splendid. She wears the same dress, but has exchanged her processional cape for a grand purple velvet one also trimmed in gold embroidery and faux ermine. Her Royal Highness now wears the majestic St. Edwardâs Crown, set with jewels and trimmed in faux ermine. The $950 doll, limited to 250, holds the Royal Scepter in her left hand.
âThe colors are amazingâexactly what youâd envision,â says Abrahams. âAnd the cape just drapes off of her. Her coronation crown is incredible.â
This isnât the first time the company has honored the Royal Family with dolls. Madame Alexander created Princess Elizabeth dolls from about 1937 into the 1950s. In 1953, Madame Alexander also created a Coronation Collection depicting the royal family, which she donated to the Brooklyn Childrenâs Museum. In tribute to both Queen Elizabeth II and Madame Alexander, the company has recreated the Coronation Collection, a series of eight-inch dolls. âQueen Elizabeth, Crowning Gloryâ (edition of 500, about $190) comes with ceremonial robe, the St. Edwards Crown, Royal Scepter and the Royal Orb. âPrince Philip, the Queenâs Royal Consortâ (edition of 500, about $120) is dressed in a black military jacket and red cape. And the âPalace Guardâ (edition of 1,000, about $80) stands watch in a traditional dress uniform. âPrince Charlesâ and âPrincess Anne,â each eight inches and limited to editions of 1,000, are sold as a set and depicted as young children. They sell for about $160.
Todayâs young girls have a keen fashion sense and an active sense of communal fun. âHannah Pepper,â named after Madame Alexanderâs mother, is a ten-inch bundle of fun for todayâs girl-on-the-go.
Dressed in groovy colors and styles mirroring current fashions, âHannah Pepperâ and her friends, âJuliaâ and âSophie,â provide hours of creative play and dress-up fun with a variety of outfits. âSheâs someone a child can relate to, carry along and play with,â says Jarvis.
âThe fun part is, itâs Madame AlexÂander, but people might not know it right up front,â Jarvis continues. âWith trendier looks, new sculpts, new colors and even new packaging, Hannah and her friends are wonderfully different, but theyâre still Madame Alexander. You can see that in the quality of their faces and clothing.â
âHannahâ in striped cardigan has her own sense of style and wears outfits in cheerful, vivid colors that look playful yet sophisticated. Her vibrantly striped cardigan and pink velveteen skirt complement a sunny yellow cotton t-shirt and matching tights. âHanginâ with Hannahâ finds the active Pepper ready for a busy Saturday in boot-cut jeans trimmed in pink, a fuchsia top and sporty denim hat.
Hannahâs best friends, âJuliaâ and âSophie,â have their own distinct personalities and fashion sense. Shy and sweet âSophieâ is a brunette, grey-eyed cutie who is always ready with a smile. Her feminine gingham dress is trimmed with large buttons, floral hems and matching sandals. Always where the action is, sporty âJuliaâ is ready to go in Capri pants, a sleeveless button-down flower print shirt, and complementary esÂpadrilles. âJuliaâ keeps her long, copper hair pulled back with a gingham headband.
Jarvis says more friends and new fashions will join the series as time goes on. Each dressed ten-inch doll sells for about $40. Additional fashions cost about $25.
Designs on Cissy
Cissy, the original modern fashion doll, has long been a collector favorite. Last year, Alexander introduced a special Designer Series (DOLLS, December 2001, âDesigner Dreamsâ) and the response was so favorable, that the company has followed up with new designs for 2002. Part of its âArts Section,â the Designer Series includes three new limited edition Cissy dolls dressed by top doll designers Timothy J. Alberts, Doug James and Laura Meisner. âTheyâre spectacular,â raves Abrahams. âItâs great to get the opportunity to work with outside artists. Thereâs so much talent among these three.â Each 21-inch creation is limited to editions of 200.
Alberts continues his seasonally themed exploration of 18th century style with âMadame de Pompadour, Springâ (about $800). The simple elegance and pastel colors of the costume are the perfect antidote to those end-of-winter blahs. The doll wears a noble shepherdess-style, form-fitting pale green jacket over a simple satin dress embroidered with spring flowers and lace. She carries a bouquet of handpicked wild flowers and shades her delicate features from the sun with a charming bonnet.
Inspired by the opera âThe Ballad of Baby Doeââa saga of 1880s Colorado mining, politics, class warfare, love, and tragedyâDoug Jamesâ âBaby Doeâ (about $650) captures the innocent strength of divorcee Baby Doe who falls for the married miner and U.S. Senator Horace Tabor. Dressed in a bronze, fitted jacket and brown-and-tan plaid bustle, the doll displays Jamesâ flair for theatrical costumes (he is assistant head of wardrobe for Saturday Night Live).
Laura Meisner continues to find the sexy in the traditional with âEquestrian Cissyâ (about $500). Dressed in tailored English riding togs, the doll wears a veiled black riding hat. Meisner has added extra flounce to the shirtfront and sleeves for a decidedly feminine touch, while the dollâs traditional riding boots are cuffed in tasteful tan leather.
Cissy fans will also want to keep an eye out for âBluebird Cissy,â a very limited edition âSitting Pretty Yardley Cissy,â âRenaissance Garden Cissy,â âTaffÂÂÂeta Romance Cissyâ and âCissyâs European Holiday Trunk Set,â an exciting new feature that includes a silk evening gown with separate petticoat, faux fur stole, rhinestone necklace, a black dress with white jacket, hats, three pairs of shoes, two handbags, two sets of pantyhose and more. The whole ensemble (no doll included) sells for about $550.
Forget Your Troubles
Hollywood in the 1930s, â40s and â50s was known for outstanding actÂresses who had the opportunity to portray juicy, unforgettable roles. At a time when women were only beginning to have the chance to stand out in professional and political roles in real life, cinema elevated the intelligent working (and singing and dancing) woman to new heights, thanks to dynamic actresses who remain revered to this day. With this in mind, Alexander has introduced âScreen Legends,â a series of new dolls celebrating silver screen icons in some of the their most memorable roles.
First in the series is âJudy Garland in Summer Stock,â introduced in December at FAO Schwarz. Although doll collectors have long been able to possess Garlandâs visage in the form of Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, other images from her varied career have been harder to find. Created in collaboration with Garlandâs daughters, Liza Minelli and Lorna Luft, and licensed through Warner Bros. and the Estate of Judy Garland, âSummer Stockâ now provides Garland fans with an accurate and beautiful new addition.
The 1950 musical âSummer Stock,â Garlandâs last for MGM, tells the story of Abigail Falbury, a sensible New England farmer who catches the showbiz bug when Gene Kelly and his ragtag acting troupe commandeer her barn for rehearsals.
âJudy Garland in SumÂmer Stock,â exclusive to FAO Schwarz, is a 16-inch doll dressed in the sophisticated costume from Garlandâs famous âGet Happyâ number. She wears a tailored tuxedo jacket with pale pink taffeta lining over a black-and-white leotard, Lycra tap pants and black tights. A pale pink scarf with a crystal rhinestone, and matching rhinestone ring and earrings add a touch of Tinsel Town glitz. The black pumps and felt fedora, which became Garland signatures, complete the ensemble.
âItâs a fascinating project because it was so complex,â notes Abrahams. âWe worked with FAO Schwarz, Warner Bros, Universal Pictures, Judy Garlandâs daughters, Gray Horan (Greta Garboâs grandniece) and Global Icon, which handles the estates for the actresses.â
âSummer Stock,â introduced last December in time for the holidays, is only the tip of the iceberg. The Screen Legends series will feature Garland as she appeared in some of her most memorable films, including âMeet Me in St. Louisâ and âA Star is Born.â In addition, the beautiful and mysterious Greta Garbo will be hard to leave alone when her characters from âCamilleâ and âGrand Hotelâ are immortalized in doll form. Alexander has also captured the exotic beauty and simmering sensuality of German chanteuse Marlene Deitrich in the roles she played in âBlonde Venusâ and âShanghai Express.â
Three of the dollsâGarlandâs âSummer Stock,â Garboâs âCamilleâ and Deitrichâs âBlÂonde Venus,â will be FAO Schwarz exclusives, limÂited to editions of 2,000. The other dolls in the series so far will be available through Alexander dealers and limited to editions of 1,500. All are expected to sell for around $160. And Abrahams hints that more actresses and more movie costumes are being considered for future releases.
If all of these treasures werenât enough to shake the winter doldrums, the Alexander Doll Company also has new baby dolls, new designs in its Peanuts Gang, Wizard of Oz and Little Women series and, of course, a host of beautiful traditional Alexander styles to whet collectorsâ appetites. Enjoy!
For more information, contact, Alexander Doll Company, 615 West 131st St., New York, NY 10027; (212) 283-5900.
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