News of Phyn & Aero’s lastest offerings arrived in my mailbox in June, which is perfect timing, since June launches summer outdoor art festivals, mini vacation getaways, global Pride celebrations and parades, and the finale of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 10. Yep, when it comes to a month that honors charisma and uniqueness, having the nerve to take chances and the talent to do it, you can’t go wrong with the nomination of June as the ideal time to announce, proclaim, and reveal! Plus, it’s perfect how this new doll design and her ensembles channel a certain reality-TV star and social activist. Yes, Kim Kardashian, we’re talking about you!
Phyn & Aero has a deep appreciation for the notion of dressing up and going in disguise. (Hence the RuPaul reference.) Its dolls and their costuming choices are ultra glamorous, über sophisticated, and hyper haute couture. If Phyn & Aero were a human-size fashion brand, they’d be a splash of Dolce & Gabbana, Vivienne Westwood, and the House of Versace. Youthful and cosmopolitan, elegant but edgy, the Phyn & Aero dolls are dressed like social media movers and shakers, who attract fame while craving privacy! Robert Tonner’s brand-new venture is honoring the old-school way of committing to quality and craftsmanship, while totally standing the doll-making methods on its head!
This duality of functioning and thriving in the public eye, but “vanting to be alone” (a nod to Greta Garbo) is very evident in the Kadira creations by Andrew Yang. Kadira is available in two skin tones: pale and tan. Made of high-quality resin, the 12.5-inch doll is articulated while being tightly strung together. The Phyn & Aero design team rightly describes them as: “A doll with a story, but one that you get to create through your own designs. Kadira is a curated selection of painted nude dolls styled with wigs, outfits, and accessories, or fully dressed beauties for those who are ready to pose and play.” Yang, the great-grandson of Hollywood legend Mary Astor, knows a thing or two about having a public face and a much different private, personal one. (His celebrity great-grandma was the victim of such a double standard during her heyday.)
With the rise of the BJD movement in collecting, dolls are specifically being created to be handled and showcased these days. Rather than living out their existence in a plastic-windowed box or in a display cabinet—talk about a shelf life!—Kadira is meant to be made in the collector’s own image or wished-for look. In this scenario, Kadira is akin to a mirror, reflecting the doll owner’s physical preferences and aspirations. Not just a “looking glass,” Kadira is a “feeling glass.” She exhibits what the collector is feeling, emoting, and desiring.
Kadira is available in two blank silhouettes: a light pale version limited to 50 pieces, a tan version limited to 25. Sold (minus eyes), these blank Kadira dolls retail for $295. Folks can build upon these dolls piece by piece, choosing eye colors, wig colors, and deciding on how much “work” needs to be done on their faces. Options are buying the doll with her face pure and untouched (and you do the touch-up or face-ups yourself) or already painted and rouged for you (LE 20 Nude Pale or LE 15 Nude Tan) for $345. The amount of immersion is entirely up to you!
Phyn & Aero reminds all collectors that if they buy the doll already made-up, “each doll’s face is painted by hand, so there might be slight variations from doll to doll.” That’s quite exceptional. Even though the doll is technically part of a limited edition, it’s as though she’s a unique one-of-a-kind. There is the Classic Painted Kadira Nude, Pale or Tan, and the Dramatic Painted Kadira Nude, likewise in Pale or Tan.
The Classic Painted face symbolizes “sweetness but forever glamorous” (Jennifer Aniston, anyone?) The Dramatic Painted face evokes a “smoldering sensuality, a woman who is probably up to something.” (Paging Angelina Jolie!) Yes, a collector can act out a clash between the two former Mrs. Pitts with their Kadira dolls. Whether they go with the Classic Painted look or the Dramatic Painted one, either doll is gorgeous enough to walk the red carpet, stroll down a runway, or grace the cover of VOGUE. Imagine any of the Kardashian siblings—heck, even throw in the Jenner sisters, too—the Kadira doll has a countenance and a confidence that is equal to these social media pioneers. She’s a force that is hard to keep up with!
The Night Shade ensemble can be purchased alone—costume only for $175, limited to 25—or as a dressed doll, done up to the nines in this sleek mermaid-influenced gown. The dressed Pale doll decked out in Night Shade is limited to 30; the Tan doll with her gown is limited to 10. The fabulous fashionista, pre-glamorized, is $425.
Phyn & Aero imagines that Kadira is a fugitive from her own past, traveling the world and trying to forget from where she hails. Dressed from head to toe in stunning threads, she never reveals who she truly is beneath the fascinator or the ruffled tulle boa. She’s a lovely woman who is haunted by melancholy and regret, but about what? Each dressed version of Night Shade sports an extra-long platinum saran wig.
That notion of losing one’s self is epitomized with the Disguise Ensemble, outfit only $130, limited to 25 pieces. The Disguise Dressed doll comes in Pale, limited to 30, with a Dramatic face; and a Tan version, with Classic painted face, limited to 10. The Disguise Dressed Kadira dolls retail for $395. This costume absolutely keys into the doll’s backstory. It literally shows how she presents herself one way to the public, and then hides another, more vulnerable side beneath the trappings.
When the Disguise Kadira is first studied, she is clad in a green trench coat and sunglasses. She is every high-powered public figure who is hunted and haunted by the paparazzi. However, this Kadira is able to find solace and refuge in her clothing. Take off the trench coat, and Kadira is garbed in a copper pleated skirt with a purple blouse. She looks modern and mature, a woman who is able to balance style and substance. Still, she lurks beneath her enormous dark sunglasses, shading her eyes and blocking any glimpses into her soul.
The amazing finishing touch of this ensemble is that the skirt comes off, and the blouse is revealed to be a youthful sleeveless swing dress. With just this one quick-change outfit, the whole biography of Kadira is revealed. She is, indeed, everywoman—channeling a bit of everyone’s psyche. She’s confident when she’s covered up, having her trench coat and sunglasses as protective armor and shield. When she’s in her shirt and skirt, she’s fashionable and funky. She looks both professional and polished, but also a tad avant-garde and artistic. Freed from coat and skirt, she appears to be a gamine, a perpetual coltish young lady.
Beautifully made, and ingeniously conceived, this one outfit takes her from Katharine Hepburn to Audrey Hepburn in one swooning swoop!