The 1957 Elise bridesmaid was a vision of loveliness in dotted nylon net. Her jointed ankles allowed her to wear flats as well as high-heeled shoes.

By A. Glenn Mandeville

By 1957, Madame Alexander’s fashion-doll lineup had never looked better. The 1957 dolls had a new peaches-and-cream finish to the faces with a perfect blend of blush — the com­pany’s offerings were indeed spectacular. One outstanding new addition to the legendary company’s designs that year was Elise, a 16.5-inch fully jointed doll.

After a controversial launch two years earlier, Madame Al­exander’s first entry into the high-heel full-figured fashion-doll market, Cissy, was a 21-inch piece of stunning perfection admired by children and collectors alike. Alexander’s 1957 line also included the lovely 12- inch Lissy doll. What set Elise apart was a new feature — her jointed ankles allowed collec­tors to dress her in ballerina slippers, flat-soled daytime shoes, or glamorous high heels, depending on the occasion.

The 1957 Elise bride showcased Madame Alexander’s latest fashion doll. Elise features a gorgeous blushed hard plastic face and a fully jointed 16.5-inch body.
The 1957 Elise ballerina was a very popular doll.

Now there was an Alexander fashion doll available in a variety of sizes and price ranges. These glamorous dolls could be found in the floor-to-ceiling cabinets of the most prestigious department stores, as well as the many enticing fashion-doll sections of Madame Alexander’s beloved FAO Schwarz. Also on offer for all of Madame’s fashion dolls were separate box fashions and a clothing rack with hangers, so these top-of-the-line dolls would never want for a new fashionable outfit.

Madame Alexander told me at one event that it cost more to make a separate boxed fashion than it did to manufacture an entire dressed doll. But she felt it was necessary for a high-end fashion doll to have a high-end wardrobe to match. This aspect of extra box fashions was often lacking in competing fashion dolls, thus justifying the cost.

This striking late 1950s Elise was an FAO Schwarz exclusive and is very hard to find today.

The late 1950s was also a time of transition. Much like the late 1940s, when companies were switching over from composition dolls to hard plas­tic dolls, now vinyl, a soft plastic, was about to be used on some of the high-end fashion dolls. In 1961, some Elise dolls shown in the company catalog as having a hard plastic head would now feature a vinyl head.

Madame Alexander loved the original hard plastic Elise head mold. In 1963, the company issued a Scarlett and a Renoir doll, each of which was available with either the new vinyl head or the original 1957 Elise hard plastic head. As the years passed, the 16.5-inch body with jointed ankles would also be used on the impish Maggie Mix-Up as well as numerous bride and ballerina dolls.

According to some company sources, the Elise doll was one of the top-selling dolls from 1957 to 1964. Today, she’s still remembered as a fashion leader and, and she is highly desirable doll among today’s fashion-doll collectors!

Another late 1950s Elise shows the doll at her stunning best!