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The Mdvanii doll is made in a special heavy resin in a pale powdered tone evocative of 1950’s glamorous make-ups. Her lovely features, delicate colouring and high-fashion make-up are individually hand-painted by trained artists giving each doll an alluring and one-of-a-kind expression. Mdvanii’s beauty is a magical, exotic beauty. She has an elusive, exquisite oriental allure inspired by the ideal beauty portrayed at the height of French haute couture imagery (Mdvanii First catalogue, 1989).
The early resin Mdvanii doll face had a beautiful oval shape, with a defined nose line and nostrils. Her eyes, enhanced by arched eyebrows, had a dreamy expression and her lips, mostly painted in shiny red were closed and without the expression of a smile.
Rumors and printed errors misleadingly gave some collectors the impression that the original make-up was designed by the American illustrator, Mel Odom. This is totally inaccurate and the anecdote requires to be explained since the Mdvanii story is filled with betrayals, jealousy and rip-offs, which happily did not affect the creativity of her authors.
When BillyBoy* made his own doll, a few years later after his immensely successful Barbie Tour in France and in America and after the publication of his best-selling book, “Barbie, Her Life and Times”, Mel Odom, who loved the idea, proposed to design a make-up for Mdvanii. BillyBoy*, who was Mel Odom’s friend at the time liked the idea and a doll head was eventually sent to him. In order to save time though, a white sticker stating that the make-up was designed by Mel Odom was put on a very limited number of Mdvanii's first boxes in anticipation. However, Mdvanii was already made and actually nearly finished and the dolls had to be sent. The heads needed to be completed and BillyBoy* and Lala could no longer wait as they had to be shipped to America to the first selected dealers.
When the head eventually came back painted by Mel Odom, the Mdvanii dolls were already painted and boxed. It was too late to change the stickers and the dolls, all having the make-up designed by BillyBoy*, were sent. This explains why some of these Basic “Dress-up” able Mdvanii dolls boxes are marked as such sticker, in spite of the fact that Mel Odom did not have anything to do with Mdvanii in any way notably her make-up. Thusly, without any question, Mel Odom had nothing to do with Mdvanii. The only fact which is true is that Mdvanii inspired him a great deal to claim years later that he “designed” his own doll. Commercially-made, this Hollywood-inspired fashion doll aimed at adult collectors owes quite a lot to Mdvanii, which opened the door for his product and a product is what it aptly should be called, as well. As for many other commercially-made dolls followed, which came all at once all inspired by Mdvanii’s fashions and creative innovations.
Mel Odom declared in an interview for some doll magazine that he has been "horribly disappointed with the poor rendition of his original make-up" for Mdvanii and that was the reason why he wanted to do his own doll! This was an outright lie. The article in a little known doll magazine, without naming Mdvanii, was referring to her as an "over-priced European fashion doll" (Odom's own words). Along with other pitiful comments, used only used as an effort to better sell Odom’s doll as if if was the seventh wonder on earth and not simply a very opportunistic commercially-made product. Just like Billyboy* had done many years earlier when he first launched mdvanii, Mel Odom went as far to ask Clyde Smith to do the sketches for the launching of his doll which made her look like a Mdvanii copy and even confused people. When one thinks that BillyBoy* had generously offered to pick Odom’s portrait of Barbie for the cover of his Barbie New Theater of Fashion American Tour, as a gesture of pure friendship, one can understand how BillyBoy* and Lala were shocked by such a shabby and ruthless attitude from their former friend.
Mdvanii had it her own way and her make-ups, which were to encounter a great evolution through out the years, were entirely designed and created by BillyBoy* and Lala since the very beginning. During the first two years, except for the prototypes especially designed by Lala, all her make-ups were made in small series each season to match with the new seasons clothes. Each make-up faithfully reproduced a defined prototype model and all hand-painted by trained girls who would paint them at home and bring them back wrapped in silk paper and transported by the metro in French egg cartons. Sometimes one of the girls would get the flu or some sort of lateness and the atelier would have to wait....One can see how un-industrially-made Mdvanii was.
The Early Years of Mdvanii's Make-ups
The earliest resin Mdvanii eye make-up’s are easy to recognize. The white part of the eye is sensibly more important than the following make-ups and corresponds with a certain type of hair treatment. The second generation of Mdvanii make-ups which corresponded with the creation of Dheei were more realistic. They frequently used dark blue, pale orange, beige-y pink or violet eyeshadow, daring fashion shades to match the clothes.
From 1993 up until today, which more or less corresponds with the period when Mdvanii stopped being made in resin, all Mdvanii and friends faces have been exclusively created and hand-painted by Lala, giving each doll her own expression. Eye shadows, lipsticks and nail polish had, and still have, specific fashion names, like real cosmetics.
Design by Lefty© Fondation Tanagra