A Brief History:
During the 18th and early 19th centuries, the fashion doll was a very popular way of disseminating the latest trends in fashion to "ladies of quality throughout the civilized world". These highly detailed and accurately scaled "lady dolls" were used to illustrate the latest styles of dress, hair fashion and accessories before the advent of modern fashion magazines. The illustration to the left (from a watercolor by Edward Burney, c. 1813) shows two ladies examining a fashion doll. By the end of the first third of the 19th century paper versions of the fashion doll began to appear and by mid-century both were surplanted by the popular ladies' magazines.
Fast-forward to the mid-20th century:
In 1945, Paris was still reeling from Nazi occupation. People had little food, fuel or medical supplies, let alone clothing. Yet the spirit of French fashion was strong, and designers were desperate to reassert themselves.
The world renowned 1946 Theatre de la Mode (French Fashion Mannequins and stage sets) was conceived by leading fashion designers and artists to hail the rebirth of the fashion industry at the close of the World War II. Among the designers whose fashions are represented are Worth, Pierre Balmain, Gres, Paquin and Nina Ricci. The exhibit consisted of nine mannequin groupings within theatre sets, with a total of 167, 27" high mannequins.
The fashion doll is once again making a resurgence; not so much in a utilitarian form as just noted, but as a highly-collectable form of artistic expression. From the whimsical to the extremely realistic or to the artistically abstract, the cloth art doll has become exceedingly popular with both collectors and artists. The following pages represent my journey into the artistic world of the Cloth Art Doll. ENJOY!