I’ve finally attended my first ever doll convention! as you’ve probably read in a previous post, I took the plunge last year and registered for the 2018 Italian Doll Convention, and boy did I make the right decision! The experience was a blast and so I’m going to present the whole event here in the blog, with lots of photos and information. We will begin with Friday, 18th Of May, the first day of the convention, which was dedicated to Poppy Parker!
I arrived at Bergamo airport at 11:00 am Friday (Rayan Air helped to keep the budget low) and popped over to Milan with a bus. Checked in at my hotel near Milano Centrale FS - not staying at the convention hotel was not the most convenient option but it was definitely the cheapest. Being familiar with the city, since it was not my first time there, I then took the Metro (underground train) to the convention hotel, to get registered, managing to arrive a few minutes after it had begun.
One of the amazing Magia2000 guys was at the registration, the lovely Mario Paglino, along with assistants gorgeous Sebastiano Zaffalon and the incredible Ibrahim Ismail, who registered me and walked me through the do’s and dont’s of my first convention. I received the convention bag, full of goodies and all necessary stuff for the next three days, plus my convention bracelets, to be worn proudly for the duration of my stay, while nixing every chance of flirting with gorgeous chic Italians in the wider Milan metropolitan area!
Finishing early with the registration meant I had quite some time until the start of the first day event, which was at 20:00. So I decided to visit the Armani Silos building near via Tortona, in one of the most fashionable districts of the city, near the lovely canals, I navigli. On one side of via Bergognone are the Silos and right across you can see the company’s headquarters and the Armani Teatro, where the runway shows of the famous designer take place. A pilgrimage for every serious fashionista indeed!
The Armani Silos turned out to be quite the experience! The ground floor, apart from the reception, cafe (more later) and guardarobe, have a temporary exhibition space, these days dedicated to the photographer artist Paolo Ventura. His work is characterised by the short stories he makes by constructing small scale dioramas and photographing them, creating his own worlds. Photographs, models and paper dioramas combined into a great experience, which was the icing on the cake that was Armani Silos.
The rest of the edifice is dedicated to the master. Three floors brimming with his clothes, divided by floor into three categories/themes: androgynous, ethnic and stars. Androgynous is about the brilliant way he fuses masculine and feminine in his clothes, his most prominent charachterisic along with his fluid tailoring. Ethnic is about the way he incorporates influences and elements of other cultures without merely copying them. And, finally, stars, was about his scintillating evening wear, minimal yet opulent, in a way only Armani can do. One of the great things about this exhibition is that you can walk amongst the clothes, able to look up close to all the details and workmanship involved. The only fault (for me) was the lack of detailed information on the outfits: apart from the respective collection the outfit comes from, no other information was given. Half of the third floor is taken over by the brand’s digital archive, accessible through huge touch screens and iMac computers. There is also a small screening room, where films and ads made for the house are shown - when I was there, a film by David Lunch was being projected.
I had to have a coffee at the ground floor cafe, both to relax and absorb what I had just seen, but also to charge my phone. The experience kept on being full Armani, with branded water and even sugar cubes and chocolate! There’s a lovely outdoors space too. I left to have lunch at the big canal, Grande Naviglio, at a favourite osteria, but had to hurry back to the Silos afterwards, as I had forgotten my convention bag at their guardarobe! After that, back to the hotel to freshen up. Below you can see the contents of the convention bag - best gift in my opinion: the amazing Balmain pencils! Thank you Magia 2000!
Time had come for the first event of the convention: the Harajuku party dedicated to Poppy Parker and the special guest from Integrity Toys, the designer David Buttry! A big ballroom was transformed by cartoon balloons, lighting and decorations into a harajuku scene, with many attendees dressed up as manga and anime characters or merely following harajuku style. A lavish buffet took over half the room, with lots of food and drinks available. A DJ was there to enhance the effect, later helping attendees burst into karaoke performances with the Spanish contingent making the biggest impression! Meeting people that until then were only known to me through doll groups or social media turned out to be the best part of the convention, with first and foremost the lovely, kind and talented David Buttry.
David Buttry made his appearance on stage to give an interview to Rogier Corbeau, from the great blog Dutch Fashion Doll World. I found out that the questions, submitted by readers of the blog, were screened by Integrity Toys beforehand, which is kind of weird. The interview itself was great, with David telling us about his work process, his inspiration sources and how Poppy came to be. He also told us that the exclusive convention Poppy begun her life as part of the Swinging London Collection but was kept out of it to then transform into the event doll. He had also brought along another Poppy, a prototype doll from the Swinging London Collection that was part of the exhibition of various Poppy Parker dolls (all from the collection of Lauretta Tonini) at the event.
Another exhibition inside the ballroom were the brilliant photographs taken by José Rdriguez (Ken Mad) with Poppy at the Scala of Milan as theme. Each photograph had Poppy transformed into an opera heroine, from Tosca to Norma to Aida. We were extremely lucky to each receive a lovely box with the printed photographs.
Ciao, Poppy! was the gorgeous event doll, finally revealed to us with a special presentation, and given to all attendees upon the presentation of the corresponding ticket received upon registration. The exclusive doll, limited to 250 pieces, even less than a centerpiece in other conventions, dressed in colourful clothes, with pink hair, a flower necklace in multicoloured stones, short skirt, knee socks, high heeled peep toe pumps and a shopping bag with her face and the words Ciao, Poppy! on them. She has the high heel feet instead of the classic Poppy articulated feet and her make up is more modern, matching her harajuku style perfectly.
Everyone was so happy to get this special doll, but there was one more thing: a special gift in the form of a bathing suit designed by David in retro style. But that was not the end of it. Another Poppy doll, the blonde variation of the first one, was available to all attendees for purchase, to be bought the next morning for €160,00. This version was again limited to 250 dolls. Apart from the different hair colour, her lips are pale pink, contrary to the strong red ones of the pink haired version. I did not want a second one but bought it for my dear friend Maria of Habilis Dolls, who could not attend and loved her.
The rest of the evening was full of fun, drinks, song, dance and friends. The prototype Poppy Parker was raffled off to attendees, and the lucky winner was Lamanda Rae Scott! You can see her below with David and the OOAK Poppy!
It was a wonderful evening, being with great friends and getting lovely dolls - what a great way to start a convention! As I got on the Metro train to return to my hotel, I felt happy and excited for the next day. Read all about it in the next post.
All photos and videos, unless otherwise mentioned, are courtesy and copyright of Stratos Bacalis and the Fashion Doll Chronicles- not to be copied or shared without permission