1989 - 1992
MDVANII'S HIGH FASHION WARDROBE
1989 - 1992
The Nec plus Ultra of Fashion Dolls
"What can be more exciting than Paris high fashion?" Certainly true for any doll, this straight to the point question from her first edition catalogue was particularly accurate for Mdvanii, introduced as the ultimate, and the nec plus ultra fashion doll.
Reminiscent of the scintillating French high fashion from the past, Mdvanii’s clothes were constructed as much as possible with all the high fashion details of real clothes. Right away, Mdvanii’s wardrobe offered an amazing quality that had not been seen in decades in such miniature scale. Each garment was lined in silk and labeled with an assigned hand-written number, like in real French high-fashion clothes. Miniature jewel touches, hooks and eyes, buttons, real French haute couture fabrics, including rare haute couture ones for one-of-a-kind dolls, gave a vision and feeling of authentic high fashion.
The chic and humorous first edition catalogue with a glamorous René Gruau illustration of Mdvanii on the cover featured nothing less than sixteen outfits worn by the doll and presented in Deluxe Edition Giftset boxes with there own hat boxes and all kinds of refined accessories.
The inside illustrations were made by talented American illustrator and painter Clyde Smith and Bettina herself posed for him to inspire this Parisian mood and allure that was going to be translated in the models.
Mdvanii has a very busy social life: cocktails & rumba music (“Dolce vita"), grand premiere at the opera (“Loge à l’opéra”), a summer ball (“Monaco”), a rather chi-chi picnic ("A la campagne"), a painting exhibition (“Galerie d’art d’avant-garde”), antique shopping (“Chez l’antiquaire”), lunch at the Ritz ("Rendez-vous pour déjeuner"), afternoon shopping (“Faubourg Saint-Honoré”), a little stroll along the riverside (“Sur les quais”), coffee with a friend (“Café à la terrasse”), afternoon tea or a rendez-vous (“Place du Palais Bourbon”), relaxing at home before going out again (“Mon boudoir”), cocktails ("Ma petite folie"), reception at the Embassy (“Réception mondaine”), late supper ("Marquise des anges")...an extenuating lifestyle which can turn into a real nightmare if you don’t have:
1) The proper wardrobe
2) Fabulous shoes
3) The accessories that make all the difference
Mdvanii had it all, and more...a pygmalion with a superb sense of humour!
Shocking Pink! Pink! Pink! Inside the Mdvanii Boutique-Gallery
The First Order Form
Mdvanii Cover Story
In PARIS VOGUE
In GLAMOUR Magazine
"On a toujours besoin de petits pois chez soi!"
The glamorous Mdvanii Boutique Gallery in Paris
"Luxe, Luxe, Luxe"
The Basic “Dress Up”-able doll, which came with a girdle and shoes, gave the possibility to collectors to acquire separates from her Garde-robe (“Wardrobe”): It included day and leisure outfits such as "Mon Yacht", Tuileries (a park in the center of Paris) and Plein soleil (Full Sun), more cocktail dresses such as Vernissage (“Opening”) and evening wear with different types of gowns, including Sortilège (Spell) a clinging gown with dramatic fishtail in several flattering colours such as pink, silver and midnight blue, for sultry nights of bewitching beauty. Also included, a witty, very parisienne outfit for apache dancing: a black jersey dress with red necktie and beret, black stockings and a little, simple red jacket. The catalogue was also proposing separates, which included strict-but-oh-so-chic blouses, tailored jackets, hand-knit sweaters and trapeze-line coats with big roomy pockets, Accessories of course topped all this with glove sets, jewellery and many different styles of hats.
Mdvanii’s wardrobe has always been based on exclusivity and stylishness, expressing a reaction to the times - the late 1980s - as well as a contemporary challenge in the pure historic tradition of fashion dolls, a subject that BillyBoy* knew by heart. From 1989 to 1992/93, Mdvanii was sold to selected dealers in America, England, Japan, Canada and Europe, who carried their own Mdvanii doll exclusives. These included dressed dolls in boxes as well as packaged outfits. LIBERTY of London, F.A.O. Schwarz in New York and throughout the United States, for example, had their own limited series, including marvellous one-on-a-kinds, such as stunning gowns which were heavily embroidered in Paris and also India. These magnificent examples, in Deluxe Edition Giftset boxes retailing for $3000, as well as each other outfit proposed, were expressing the true embodiment of Paris high fashion, a highly concentrated feeling of luxury, all in skillful miniature size. They were real garments with innovative and tasteful fashions notes, masterly executed with great attention to detail. Embroidery work was never flashy or vulgar (the relentless “dripping in faux pearl/faux fur” syndrome, forever striking back in other commercially-made doll-related forums). They were both stunning and creative, always in tune with real high fashion.
The idea of a timeless and sublimated high fashion
If one looks on page 15 of the 1991 F.A.O. Schwarz catalogue, one can see how incredibly different the three Mdvanii exclusives were from any other doll available at the time. The three dressed dolls, "Notre Dame", "Champs-Elysées" and "Tour Eiffel", all express a very personal and specific vision of elegance, but most of all are true fashion: the fabrics used (shantung silk, jersey and tweed), the large Balenciaga-style white straw hat, the white gloves, the fashion belts, bags, the association of colours, the big gold cuffs and chokers, each and every detail IS a fashion statement. As a comparison, on the same page, the Cissy by Madame Alexander dressed by American couturier Arnold Scaasi looks like a synthetic powder puff that lights up from underneath with a pull string, like an old lamp shade. Poor Cissy! She should have been left in peace in the fifties, when she was cute and her fashions made sense. More? On page three, the “Night Sensation Barbie”...Well, all one can say is, “WHAT is THAT about?”
Mdvanii was launched at Liberty's in London and F.A.O Schwarz in New York and introduced to the Lord Mayor of London in his private chambers.
This shows perfectly that it takes more than a couturier or a corporate design team to successfully dress a doll and that a child’s doll, no matter what, belongs in another world. A doll does not necessarily need to be a fashion doll to be successful and beautiful. But popular culture’s presumption about fashion and the children’s market criteria, both walking along with mass-production and “price points” mostly result into a massive amount of quite ugly products and a great deal of delusion about it all. This sums up the position of the Mdvanii doll. She was not the past, she was not a revival of anything, she was not even nostalgia. Mdvanii was the creation of an artist, she had an authentic personality which required nothing less than real fashions and coherence. Of course fashion constantly recycles the past, but when it gets nostalgic, notably on dolls, it stops being fashion: it is simply kitsch and sentimentalism! And that was not at all what Mdvanii was about.
Design by Lefty© Fondation Tanagra