(Article in process)
The Adventure of Miniaturisation
Mdvanii, ambassadrice of high fashion, had the privilege and honor to get glamorized by the salons of internationally-renowned Alexandre de Paris, the hairdresser of celebrities, movie stars, royalty and socialites as well as all elegant women. Mr Alexandre was a great artist as well as a perfect gentleman. The quality of his attention, his eye for feminine beauty and his exquisite manners were a great source of admiration and inspiration for BillyBoy*. When BillyBoy* asked Mr Alexandre if he could create hairdos for Mdvanii in his renowned style, Mr Alexandre designed a series of hairstyles for Mdvanii (some of these sketches were illustrated in the first Mdvanii catalogue).
Mr Alexandre had already coiffed for Billyboy* some of the Barbie dolls dressed by the couturiers, he himself had made an amazing series of Barbie dolls dressed in outfits made out of hair and he also had coiffed for BillyBoy* some of his own dolls, such as Cissy by Madame Alexander, dressed by Hermès, Guy Laroche, Jacques Esterel, Pierre Balmain and many others which will be soon exhibited on the Fondation Tanagra’s site. He also designed BillyBoy*’s own hair on many occasions and even made wigs especially for him.
The frontier between a sketch and the actual rendition of it can sometimes be very difficult. In the case of Mdvanii, it turned into a major obstacle. All the existing wig makers contacted at the time said it would be impossible to do and the ones who were willing to try first started by...pulling their own hair out! The scale of Mdvanii’s head, which was very small, was difficult to go around and due to the specificity of resin and its hard surface, it did not allow for rooted hair. So traditional wigs were the first solution used for Mdvanii’s hairstyles. From 1989 up until today, many different techniques have been used to create Mdvanii’s hairstyles. They can be described in the following categories:
La Piscine (“Swimming pool”) 1989-1991
This hair treatment can be called an “underwig” and figured as Mdvanii’s own hair. It was a short, slicked back hairdo made from real black human hair. MAny years later, when copied by unscruplous counterfeitors they claimed it was "European human hair" which is impossible. Most human hair wigs are made from hair bought in Asia. The piscine name was attributed to this style because her hair looked as if she had just stepped out of a swimming pool (Mdvanii does not jog - have you ever tried it in high heels? - but she enjoys swimming, and practices yoga!). As shown on the sketch by Mr. Alexandre de Paris, it dates from May, 1989.
The piscine was permanently glued to the head of the doll. On this piscine style the first Mdvaniis wore a black bob wig (coupe au carré in French) which bore the Alexandre de Paris label on the inside. A simple pin was used to keep this wig in place. Mdvanii was definitely introduced as a brunette: this combination of two black wigs, one permanent, one removable, constitutes the generic look of the early Mdvanii dolls. It was used only during 1989-1991 and along with the make-up style and resin type, is a good way to identify them as such. However, other shades of bobs, such as platinum, ash and strawberry blonde, auburn, chestnut, redhead, as well as longer wigs, were also worn on the swimming pool underwigs during this period.
The Wigs (1989-1994)
As we have said, it was very delicate and sometimes impossible to translate Mr Alexandre’s sketches into real hairdos on Mdvanii’s scale. After many unsuccessful attempts, the first satisfying result was obtained with a black bob wig with bangs which looked as similar as possible to the original sketch. Mdvanii was definitely introduced as a brunette and the generic hairdo of the early resin Mdvanii combined her unremovable piscine with the black hair bob wig (which could be shorter or longer in length and was never singularly the same length which helped create variations which was always encouraged by BillyBoy* for Mdvanii).
All Mdvanii wigs always bore, and still do, the famous Alexandre de Paris label inside. However, as one can imagine Mdvanii could never have been content with only one type of wig so it was conceived that she could chose the most appropriate one for her various outfits. These wig hairstyles included flip hairdos, side-parted waves and marceled hairdos and others à la Marilyn Monroe (the "Something's Gotta Give" style), short or long bobs, Clara Bow curls, beehives, ponytails (very rare in removable wigs), all in various shades - which ran from the whitest of whites, to the entire range of blonde, every auburn, brunette and chestnut imaginable, indefinable shades such as "18th-century bronze" and every nuanced shade of black and many, many jewel tone colours, like flame and shocking pink, gaslight blue, horizon purple and moss green.
In the 1992 European Collection some wigs which were available separately had names such as Greta, Bugatti, Claivoyance, International and Galaxy, in assorted shades and cuts which also had names: "Bombay", "Vendredi", "Spectre", to name just a few. Mdvanii also had rare pure white flip wigs made out of yak hair, which are even rarer than the others (only about twenty were made the first season). Wigs came separately or in the Deluxe Edition Giftset boxes (see Packaging) with a wig stand in the square Mdvanii Boutique cardboard hat box, in pale turquoise blue with the BillyBoy* Toys “Goon on a Cloud” logo. The base of the wig stand was in metal, gold, silver or gun metal and the head in beige resin. After 1992, most wigstands were in resin, black for the base and ivory for the head.
In the early years (1989-1991) wigs were only set with normal hairspray, which proved to be not entirely satisfying. Wigs had the tendancy when handled a few times to loose their initial shape (just like real hairdos!). From 1992, all Mdvanii’s removable wigs in real hair were lacquered with strong varnish that allowed them to remain in perfect shape.This secret varnish opened a new era for Mdvanii’s hairstyles.
BillyBoy* considered wigs as an essential asset in a real fashion doll’s wardrobe at the time. However, he also felt that Mdvanii needed something more simple and modern. The problems of dealing with wig makers, which were always late and difficult, prompted him to find a new solution which came, with Dheei, like a miracle.
Le Casque (“The Helmet” ) 1991-1993
The "casque" or “helmet” was the second real innovation in Mdvanii’s hairdos. Contrary to the “swimming pool”, which was made like any traditional wig with hair stitched to a band - a real challenge on such a tiny scale - the new system was made with a hard gauze base on which hair was hand-glued and lacquered. The result was a very stylish and more realistic short bob à la Louise Brooks, which was also unremovable. This technique is the one used for Lido showgirls wigs in Paris and these Mdvanii casques were actually made in the same workshops.
They came in different shades such as white, light brown, black or blond. On this, the doll could even wear other types of wigs. This new short bob hairdo was so becoming on Mdvanii that it was featured on many Mdvanii creations in the 1992 catalogues and used for day outfits as well as evening wear. It was extremely modern and stylish and certainly unique in the context of commercial fashion dolls of the time which was always shown usually with big, long hair.
A variation of this helmet was created for a very short period (1991-1992) specially for Dheei. It combined the helmet technique with the slicked back look of Mdvanii’s early “swimming pool” and was made in auburn or black hair. It was used only on Dheei and Soraya combined with traditional hairdos, mostly 1960s-style flips. This type of underwig is very rare, since it has been made in less than a hundred examples.
The “helmet” technique was also used on certain types of hairdos such as the spectacular beehives and flips created notably for Soraya, the Psychic Indian female friend of Mdvanii and Dheei (but also used for them both). They came in stunning fashion shades such as "Barbe à Papa" (Cotton Candy) a sugary, fluffy pink, "Purple Haze", a shimmering pale violet, "Nuage blanc" (White Cloud) as its namesake, "Vénéneux" (Poisonnous Mushroom) a diluted turquoise, and "Merle Noir" (“Blackbird”) a deep, shiny black. These hairdos were unremovable and are extremely rare. This technique was also used for Mdvanii’s red hair bob wigs for Champs Elysées, one of the F.A.O Schwarz Exclusives (1992) of which only 200 were ever produced. Unfortunately, the artisans making these wigs closed their business and another solution had to be found.
It is important to note that the evolution of hairdos in Mdvanii’s story has very often been a consequence of the difficulties, if not impossibility, of the wig makers and suppliers to conform to criteria and needs of the BillyBoy*Toys workshop. When the lovely helmets à la Louise Brooks could not be produced any longer, the whole system had to be abandoned, with a lot of regrets: it was a catastrophe! The only workroom in Paris capable to do such things was working full time for the famous Parisian cabarets and could not take the job. But as one says necessity is the mother of invention, and each time a difficulty was encountered, a new solution was studied, opening the door to a transition in the evolution of Mdvanii. Since Mdvanii could not have her lovely helmets, the cut and style was adapted to real traditional stitched wigs for limited series such as L’Officiel Mdvanii, “Ailes d’Hermès”, Studio Harcourt and Chocolat et Framboise. It was called the permanent hairdo.
The Permanent Hairdo
The principle of a traditional wig, coiffed and lacquered and permanently fixed was adopted and presented on the new creations. Removable wigs eventually became the one of the specificities of one-of-a-kind dolls in Deluxe boxes. On the other hand, BillyBoy* did not want Mdvanii to necessarily wear a wig all the time. A wig must be the ally of a woman, one of her many weapons of seduction and mystery, but when systematic it can quickly be a bore or worse, suspicious!
This new style became possible notably thanks to the very strong varnish used to fix the hair on the helmets which was impossible with a traditional hair fixing spray or gel. Many Mdvanii series as well as one-of-a-kind dolls featured the new trend in her world: permanent hairdos such as bobs, flips, ponytails, long or short and other hairstyles which were created specifically for each doll. Illustrating this new trend was Capri which featured glamorous ponytails combined with a beehive effect, enhanced with hand-made white flower ornaments.
This tendancy was further developed thoroughly in the following years not only for Mdvanii but also for her other female friends, Dheei and Soraya, and became one of BillyBoy*`s doll trademarks. Permanent hairdos on dolls became practically one-of-a-kind each time, within limited series, never exceeding 25 dolls. These hairdos, which also came in a great variety of shades, including bright orange and electric blue, were all permanently fixated with the secret varnish and contribute in giving to these dolls a remarkable level of quality.
The Mohair hairdo (The “Mo-Do”)
From 1994 onward new hairdos were created in a refined and very high quality lamb and goat mohair. It was directly used from mohair bands which were glued and styled on the doll’s heads and this gave brand new possibilities for Mdvanii and her friends. It was first initiated on the Mdvanii “Groovy Chick” series which featured a stunning variety of hairstyles, all permanent . Amongst other traditional short bobs (some in bright orange), different types of flips, ponytails - including a one-of-a-kind braided ponytail - was a totally new innovative “free flowing” hairstyle for Mdvanii using the black mohair technique: long, wild and voluptuous (it especially look dramatic in white and in bright orange).
Sometimes just attached in the back with a knot, these hairdos still have a very “now” look. Mohair hair was used on several occasions on most female dolls, for one-of-a-kind creations or limited series. These include the stunning Dim Dam Dom series for Tzulli, Dheei’s younger teenage sister, which featured an ultra high-fashion array of hairdos, enhanced with pearl embroidery, some quite African looking. Mohair was also used for the porcelain teenage boy dolls, such as Go-Go Boy.
The Sculpted-on hairdo
From 1994 and on, a brand new innovative technique was used on BB* dolls. Initiated for the male dolls, for which it allowed to create very short haircuts (something impossible to do with traditional wigs), the sculpted-on hairdo is a real sculpture, directly styled on the doll’s head.
The result was very different from some previous hairdos made for the first male resin dolls, which used flocked hair, notably on Zhdrick, Dheei’s brother and Tiimky, Thogit-Thogit's brother who was a yellow blonde (1992). The sculpted-on hairdo is made out of a special paste which hardens and becomes as solid as porcelain. It opened an era of specific hairdos for each doll. Examples of this can be seen on the Muio-Bix dolls (Mdvanii’s teenage brother) such as Birthday Party, 36-15 Bricolo or Jardin Secret. It was then extensively used on all female dolls, sometimes combined with a removable wig, sometimes as a definite hairstyle, as featured in the "Ballade" porcelain dolls (1998). Each doll of these 25 example limited series, (a mix of Mdvanii and Soraya dolls), has her own sculpted-on hairdo in various styles evoking the 1930’s, 1940’s, and also contemporary trends.
The sculpted-on hairdo has been used with success regularly since 1994 and is is one of the Mdvanii creations landmarks. It served Mdvanii’s taste for metamorphosis, notably in the one-of-a-kind series of 1996 in which it was used to create very short hairdos in daring shades of white, black and silver. The extraordianry “Feu de braise” Mdvanii shows how a volcanic brunette can transform in seconds into a voluptuous blonde!
The Wool hairdo (The “Wo-Do”) and other types
This was notably used for the Ishwar and Muio-Bix porcelain teenager dolls of 1998.
Created from 1997, it is made out of different types of wools, in various colours. It is used for female dolls as well as male dolls. The latest series (25 examples) featured a mix of the three teenage boy dolls, Muio-Bix, Ishwar and Jobii, with wool hairdos in various styles called "Rasta", "Techno", "Trendy", "Neo-Grunge", "Cyber Romantic". These remarkably realistic and groovy hairdos are unremovable.
From 1998, the hairstyles of Mdvanii and the other members of Mdvanii's world creations distinguish themselves by a great freedom of form and choice of the material used. This change was significantly initiated with the “Intro Spectrum” Collection, a SW Japan Exclusive for Summer, 2000. The hairdos are made of diverse materials such as ancient trims which allowed built-up 18th-century-style coiffures (such as Lavandière, Talk to the Ant etc), hand-painted gold metal chains (Ondine), evoking the early 19th-century romantic style, light brown feathers (So What?), to name just a few.
The most recent innovation is the importance given to the shaved head aesthetic (introducing the “De Shave” concept) which enhances the perfect oval of Mdvanii’s porcelain head. It is the case for Tsé-Tsé, which shows a very glamorous insect-like Mdvanii and Robe schizophrène, in which she is wearing Victorian-like fetish boots and a crinoline covered with silk gauze, forming at the same time a dress, a veil and a hairdo. The extraordinary Breeze of Liberty Mdvanii has also an elaborated garment evoking the sails of a ship, in a sublime red, pink and white silk organza veil which covers - if one can say so since she is practicaly naked - her body and goes up the head into a hairdo,enhanced in the front with a beaded hair ornament in the shape of a jelly fish. It is veritably with the Intro Spectrum collection that Mdvanii took a leap into the future.
For the first time also a poem was sealed in her porcelain head. Mdvanii, who had ceased for quite a while to be just a contemporary fashion doll, even the most exquisite and refined of all, was symbolically marking her entry into the 21st-Century as a “sculpture with a lifestyle”. The poem, from Belgium Poet René Lyr was written in the early 1950’s and has also a particularly vibrant meaning in its association with Mdvanii:
In the forest the water in the fountains
has reflected the fresh image
forbidden to human visions
of the wisest and most beautiful one.
Run away, poet, who caught her
behind the thin shelter of the birch tree
her heart dancing like a lily of the valley’s
bell trembling in the breeze.
For in you the secret of things
accomplishes the future decree
which will keep you forever pure
throughout the metamophosis.
Design by Lefty© Fondation Tanagra