Annora Monet is one complicated woman. Yes, I know she’s a doll — one of the American ball-jointed dolls designed by Robert Tonner, available as a hard plastic and vinyl version, too — but she has a personality that is relatable and very representative of today’s modern woman. Well-to-do, but always wondering if she has done well enough; pretty and stylish, but also devoted to charity work, literacy, and helping others — Annora is a doll for the Internet age. Part of the brand-new Phyn & Aero line launched by Tonner and Andrew Yang, Annora is the “it girl” for selfishness and selflessness in the world of the selfie! Yep, Annora loves to take photos of herself, but she’s also altruistic and outgoing. She has a confident selfhood amidst her campy selfies!
I’m thinking about Annora because the Phyn & Aero folks have sent me some correspondence from the busy BJD. (See what I mean about thinking she’s real, people!) According to her most recent missives, Annora has a daily schedule somewhere between Donald Trump’s — very busy but still up for social media — and Mother Teresa’s (Annora is all about giving back)! While I sometimes consider finishing a deadline, helping the kids with homework, and remembering to feed the cat as a triumphant weekday, Annora is saving the date for saving the world. Her charity work is legendary and she puts the FUN in fund-raising. (Okay, I’ll get all fan girl here: She’s a fictional hero, or shero, of mine.)
Instead of me spewing the details of her never-sitting-still routine, I’ll let Annora speak for herself, or at least text for herself. Here’s what she’s up to: “I really do like working on the library board, but there are so many fund-raisers! However, there is one that’s really not a chore and that’s the one at the Mystic Restaurant overlooking the Harbor. I wanted to make a statement this year — after all, my best friend was being honored! So, I went shopping and found this wonderful gown in a little designer store. It’s a satin and chiffon burnout lace pattern that is cut under the bust, an empire cut I guess, and has a skirt that flows from that seam to the floor. There’s a slit in the center front — that might have been a deal breaker, but it has this wonderful net underskirt with ruffle trim that I love. I asked the owner if she could have gloves made to match — I think she frowned at that — but she said she would have a pair of gauntlets made from the same fabric. Glad I did that — I love those!”
Wow, Annora not only scours a designer store and scores a breathtaking ensemble — Mystic Allure — but she also has the presence of mind to have it custom-tailored with a fabulous new accent piece. Long opera gloves in 2018! Yep, Annora should write a book on stylish self-actualization!
Always finding a fashion ensemble to mirror what she’s feeling, thinking, and experiencing, her Frill Thrill outfit is a study in gothic empowerment. It has a gritty semi-punk vibe to it — I can imagine Courtney Love rocking it — but it also is sophisticated and could find its way into any haute couture designer’s runway show. Here’s how Annora dreamed this one up: “All right. So, I had this black strapless dress that I’ve always loved — it’s taffeta — and it had been spending way too much time in my closet. I threw it on and I still love the fit, but it needed something — after all, I was going to dinner at his house! That’s when I may have gone a bit overboard. I have this wonderful crinoline in black taffeta with a tulle ruffle, so I put it on, but the dress still looked bare so then I tried black lace stockings. I loved those but the outfit seemed a bit too ‘girly’ (nothing wrong with that but not for this dinner), so then I put on some black short pleather boots. Still liking the look but it seemed a bit off balance, so I added this sheer, dotted net ruffled blouse. I looked in the mirror and thought I had just overdone it. So, I did what I normally do and added more! I put on my faux pearl necklace and wrapped the whole look up in a black velvet bow at my waist. And that was it. I was ready to go.”
I recently had the chance to see the GoGos at their impromptu reunion in New York City. It was a fantastic moment and I’ll never forget it. I think Belinda Carlisle or Jane Wiedlin could carry this outfit off in a very Woman Power way! Besides these more muted palettes, Annora really stands out in a crowd in her radiant red “American Beauty” togs. I’ve written about this outfit back during Toy Fair, and now it is finally debuting. The doll, swaddled in this ruby gown, is absolutely eye-popping. It is a terrific study in being brave enough to know all eyes will be upon you, all Instagram accounts will be uploading your picture, and Twitter will be alive with the sounds of judgmental tweets. It’s a brave and beautiful choice.
Here’s Annora’s take: “It just stuck in my mind — the whole story about my Aunt’s favorite dress in her favorite color. It was a red — no, not just red but the color of a rose. I think she called it an American Beauty Rose. It’s a true deep rich red — so much more than just red. So, I begged her to show me the dress she was talking about. Turns out she wore it to a movie premiere — one of the only movies she was ever in,” Annora wrote to me.
“Anyway, I loved the dress — and she gave it to me! It’s this triple tier pleated lace dress with long sleeves and a high jewel neck. She said it was unusual for the period — everyone was wearing strapless — but she was a standout. I tried on the entire outfit she wore — the dress, the red pumps, the red crystal necklace and my favorite thing — the oversized flower worn as a hat. Guess what? Everything fit perfectly. Dad did get me into the opening of the Costume Exhibit at the Museum — so now I’ll have something to wear. I was even thinking about red stockings, but the outfit already comes with nude hose. She did tell me that at one time, she had a cape that went with the outfit, but she said she’d have to look for it. I have to say, just putting this on, made me feel like a real American Beauty myself!” Annora signed off.
Yet, despite it all, underneath her flowing gowns, cutting-edge dresses, bountiful capes, and designer creations, Annora is a bright soul that can glow no matter what she’s wearing. Even stripped down to a bare onesie, she proves that she is one-of-a-kind: “What am I wearing? Oh — it’s my new rose blush stretch onesie — love these things — it’s a basic, but I think it’s more than that. The shoes are a pair of strappy pleather sandals that I picked up in a new little store just right outside of town. I thought I’d try my black wig with it and I really like it, but then I just had to try on my other wig, which is longer and auburn. I can’t decide — you may have to help! So, I got all carried away and even did my makeup for the shot. I’m using a barely blush lip paint and I did a bit of smoky shadow to show off my blue eyes! Still debating on the wig. I love my cameo skin tone, but I can look washed out so I’ll have to think about that wig color!”
You can become part of Annora’s world and possess her high fashion sense, and her high hopes that her life has meaning, purpose, and significance — all while she makes an indelible mark on social media. She’s one doll that won’t just have a mere instant on Instagram, she’s a trend setter! (Note: Some of these images from Phyn & Aero are prototypes of her head, and not final production.)