1989: THE MDVANII REVOLUTION
Entireley hand-made on every step of the way exclusively in France, dressed in clothes reviving the grand tradition of French Haute couture, Mdvanii stepped into the world the year of the bi-centenial anniversary of Bastille Day, which marked the beginning of the French Revolution. Right away, she was totally different in concept, spirit and style from every commercially-made fashion doll existing then. Not only that she was the pure vision of an artist, BillyBoy*, himself a collector and acknowledged expert in high fashion history, but she was also entirely created by him, his partner Lala and their small team in an atelier at 6, rue de la Paix, just like the Surreal Bijoux were made.
Conceived for adults, Mdvanii was paying hommage to the great tradition of French fashion doll-making as expressed by the refined Parisiennes dolls from the Second Empire, making the link to the modernity of classsic French haute couture and to contemporary art, even if it was not always perceived at such in the beginning. Her discourse, her attitude, her style (today we would say "realness") were definitely going to change things for many a doll maker and companies and her influence in the past 25 years of production of commercially-made fashion dolls is more than obvious. But Mdvanii, who has developped into an acknowledged art form, remains unique.
The early Mdvanii doll was made in hard resin which was tinted in a matt shade of pale pink. She was 10,5 inches high and like all other BillyBoy* dolls to come, was "anatomically correct". Her womanhood was graciously evoked through her emphasized bust, her painted nipples and the stylized suggestion of her feminine gender with a simple black triangle. Mdvanii is naturally beautifully proportioned like absolutely no other fashion doll in the world. Her lithe body is a work of art, a veritable sculpture! Mdvanii doll is anatomically correct, paying homage to nature’s most beautiful creation-woman! (Mdvanii First Edition catalogue, 1989).
These details, thought natural and innocent, were sometimes perceived as controversial. When CONTEMPORARY DOLLS Magazine made an article on Mdvanii, they did not accept to publish a sketch from her catalogue were she appeared in the nude, hiding her breasts with her arms. Finally the solution was found: a lace appliqué was placed on her hips to figure panties and approved, thought it made the whole thing even more erotic!
Basic "Dress-up" able
Her torso was made in one single solid piece and she was articulated at the hips, shoulders and head with an elaborate system of especially-made plastic rotary disks and screws. As a result, the head, which bore a small gold-plated oval tag in the back of the skull with the inscription “Mdvanii-Paris”, moved from left to right. The arms and legs moved from back to front. The right leg was slightly bent at the knee and gave the alluring impression that the doll was walking on a line, the only proper way to walk for a fashion doll! The arms also had a definite fashion movement, slightly arched, the left hand posed at a lovely angle. Nails of course were lacquered, matching the lipstick. The doll had a right and left foot, both very arched, to wear high heels. Mdvanii was never meant to wear flat shoes nor, needless to say, sneakers!
The first edition of The Basic “Dress-up” able Mdvanii doll came in a box wearing only a girdle which did not cover the breasts, metal stiletto high heels and a wig in black human hair, signed by reknowned hairdresser Alexandre de Paris: a statement in itself in the world of dolls! She was conceived and entirely made in France, hand-assembled and hand-painted in BillyBoy*’s own workrooms on 6, rue de la Paix, in Paris, France, then in the rue du Cherche-Midi where a small workroom was located with an office in the back of the gallery.
By 1991, the early resin was abandoned for an improved version in polyester resin with a Caron-style skin tone, which was used until the production of porcelain dolls, in 1994. By the end of 1993, the resin Mdvanii was discontinued and replaced by a the new porcelain edition of exactly the same size, as well as all her family dolls and the teenage boy dolls to come.
Hand-painted Resin Rarities
Between 1997 and 1998 a number of rarities were created, such as the superb collection of early resin Mdvanii dolls, entirely painted with different skin tones, all one-of-a-kind. They constitute a parenthese between the past and the present of Mdvanii, since resin dolls were not used any longer for several years. The fact that the entire body was painted gave to these dolls a fabulous semi-shiny matt finish, evocative of 1940’s rhodöid dolls. Surprisingly, this effect had been designed initially between 1987 and 1988, when the resin Mdvanii was conceived and difficulties were encountered in obtaining a satisfying skin tone colour. However it was not used for different practical reasons. The same thing happened with the moulded-on hairdo, which were discovered at the same date, because BillyBoy* thought that people were not ready to appreciate it and would prefer natural hairdos. He did them exclusively for himself and a few aficionados.
However, the treatment of hairdos and make-ups on these entirely painted Mdvanii dolls was definitely an expression of the newest tendencies in BillyBoy* and Lala’s work, and the inspiration of the costumes was ranging from East Europe to Mexico without forgetting....Paris, of course! The exquisite Operette, in seemingly Roumanian folkloric costume, evoked a character from a musical opera. "Balkans" looked very Bulgarian, Mae Far West was in fact totally Mexican Frida Kahlo-esque along with the Spanish-esque Je rêve, La Chartreuse de Parme, as its namesake, evoked a Stendhal character. Salamandre was a very luxurious Second-Empire-style gown which evoked the music of Offenbach, A Rose is a Rose is a Rose - thank you Gertrude Stein - evoked the splendor of its namesake. Some of these were shown in the United States, in MILLER’S Fashion Doll Magazine and it was the first time in years that BillyBoy* accepted to appear in the press (in an article titled, "BillyBoy*: Alive and Well”, a response to gossip and rumors saying he was dead!). This non-exhaustive list does not include the male doll and teenage boy dolls series, as well as all one-of-a-kind dolls, created during the same period.
Design by Lefty© Fondation Tanagra