Italian Doll Convention 2018 - Day II: the Gala night

Saturday is the busiest day of IDC: seminars, presentations, the fashion show and the gala dinner! For most of us It begun early in the morning, as we had to go and get the extra blond version of the convention doll, Ciao Poppy! She’s gorgeous but I do prefer the pink haired one. This one will go to my friend Maria of Habilis Dolls, who could not attend. And that is why you see her in the box.

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Then it was time for a great presentation. My dear friend (we finally met!) Ada of Papusile Mele was giving us a lecture about Manga in Doll Culture! She showed us all the famous manga characters that got made into dolls, like Astro Boy, Lady Oscar, Sailor Moon and Candy Candy, giving us many details about manga history in between. Lots of rare and OOAK dolls were shown in the accompanying slideshow. 

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We stayed in Japan with the next presentation: the story of the doll Licca, by the lovely Kazuko Hosokawa. Not only she told us the amazing tale of how Licca came to be, with lots of details and how she developed throughout the years until now, but also brought with her part of her incredible Licca collection, with the complete original Licca family a stand out. Both this and the previous presentation had the awesome Antonio Russo helping out with the translation, from English to Italian. Some dolls and gifts were raffled to attendees, ending the presentation in a most ideal way.

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Third presentation of the day was called PoppyParkerly, this time dedicated of course to last night’s star, the lovely Poppy Parker: Daniela Ferrando talked about how the 60s are perceived aesthetically nowadays through our modern sensibilities compared to how it was back then, by using the 60s contemporary Barbies and today’s Poppies.  

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The last presentation was a much anticipated interview: dear Ada got the chance to ask the talented Linda Kyaw, Mattel designer and stylist of @barbiestyle, lots and lots of questions about her career, Barbie in the past, now and the future. The questions were send by Ada’s readers and, strangely enough, Mattel did not censor them! The interview was very informative even for people who are not even doll collectors. Linda is very intelligent, gracious and kind. She answered all questions, avoiding pitfalls and confidential information of course, and, with Ada being a wonderful interviewer, the session was a blast. It was accompanied by lots of Linda designed Barbies in displays and ended with lots of dolls and other gifts being raffled to attendees.

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Linda’s OOAK contribution to the IDC auction  

Linda’s OOAK contribution to the IDC auction  

Me with Linda Kyaw  

Me with Linda Kyaw  

After a brief interval (and a change of clothes), it was back at IDC for the Cartoonia parade fashion show! Anyone interested had registered for participating in this show, dressing up as a cartoon or doll character of his choice. The catwalk was set up in one of the hotel ballrooms. The show was a hoot: participants had incredible outfits, that had taken them countless days to make, complimented by styling, make up and hairstyles matching their characters, not to mention the choreography each one had prepared for their presentation. Lots of compliments, applause and bravos to all participants for the show that everyone thoroughly enjoyed! The photos of the show below (as a slideshow) are by another Greek collector that was there, Makis (thank you so much dearest!), as my seat was not ideal for catwalk photos.

Everyone attending the runway show could vote for his favourite costume, which was quite difficult as they were all amazing! You just had to give your favourite the corresponding coupon that was given with the rest of the registration stuff.  All participants were assembled at the hotel’s stairs for a last photo op and then it was time for the welcome drink before dinner, or, as Italians call it, l’aperitivo. An hour later, we were ushered into the ballroom for the gala dinner.

Athena was the winner of the runway show

Athena was the winner of the runway show

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Me with Antonio Russo and Oriele  

Me with Antonio Russo and Oriele  

The welcome drink space

The welcome drink space

The whole room was decorated with lots of cartoon elements. Each chair around the big rotunda tables had a transparent balloon tied to its back, lit up with a string of colourful led lights. The centerpiece was a Barbie doll made up as a comics/cartoon hero by doll design duo Lantis Kelly and Catia Destro. Each seat also has a pair of sketches made by Living Plastic Doll for the gala.

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The centerpiece doll

The centerpiece doll

I had been assigned to one of the Spanish tables, table no.20, with the lovely Lionel as our wonderful and amazing host. The table gifts were all amazing and I added mine to the bunch: cute mini polka dot dresses in various colours, with matching headband bows and earrings, all made to order by my dearest friend Maria from Habilis Dolls. I already knew Lionel and José from Facebook and got to meet the rest of the table mates there for the first time, all amazing and some of the best I could have: Christelle, Fito, Francisco, Gloria, Maria, Nuria and Pepita! My warmest thank yous and best wishes, you were all amazing!

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From left: Lionel, me, Gloria and Fito

From left: Lionel, me, Gloria and Fito

Table gifts! You can see one of the Habilis Doll polka dot dresses I gifted on the top left of this photo.

Table gifts! You can see one of the Habilis Doll polka dot dresses I gifted on the top left of this photo.

After a beautiful ballet introduction, with the dancers dressed in Disney prince and princess outfits, Mario Paglino took the stage, welcoming everyone. He talked about the recipient of this year’s charity auction profits, Dynamo Camp and introduced their team. Then it was time for a speech from Linda Kyaw about Barbie, its history and its future, as next year is the doll’s 60th birthday. There was no preview of anything regarding that front, but we got to see lots of gorgeous Barbie photos, some of which were shown for the first time in public. Then Gianni surprised everyone by announcing that there was a gift for everyone, a special limited edition book (300 copies) dedicated to Linda Kyaw and filled with photos of her Barbie dolls, exclusive to the convention and Mattel approved: The World Of Linda Kyaw. A gorgeous book, printed in quality paper, with lots of doll photos! 

The dancers  

The dancers  

Mario welcomes everyone  

Mario welcomes everyone  

Linda Kyaw speaking  

Linda Kyaw speaking  

Karl Lagerfeld OOAK doll  

Karl Lagerfeld OOAK doll  

Ralph Lauren OOAK doll  

Ralph Lauren OOAK doll  

60th anniversary logo

60th anniversary logo

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Lots of gifts were raffled off to attendees during the night, including many dolls. Our table won two of them! After dessert it was time for the convention doll. No surprises here, it was the same doll that was presented in the Paris and Tokyo conventions, Striking In Stripes Barbie. She is Gold label, has the Karl sculpt and a model muse body. Designed by Bill Greening, she wears an asymmetrical striped evening dress, with black strappy sandals, silver clutch bag and matching jewellery. It’s my first official convention doll (that I get while attending I mean), so I’m keeping her.  

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Then it was time for the extra convention Barbie, the one designed by Magia 2000, Mario and Gianni. This one was based on the Totally Hair Barbie, remade by Magia 2000, with new hairstyle, make up, freckles and a spectacular dress with an overskirt in custom printed fabric (with comic related print) and a black body hugging Lycra dress encrusted with colourful rhinestones. She wears black stockings, pink shoes embellished with crystals and star crystal earrings. Miniatures of her own special box and the official convention booklet created by Roger Corbeau were included. 

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One could see the OOAK benefit auction dolls in display in a corner of the ballroom. The talented creators really outdid themselves, as you can see in the photos below. How lucky are the people that bought them! The centerpiece dolls were raffled to each table, ours was won by Christelle - contrary to IT conventions, here you win both centerpiece doll and base for free.

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After lots of fun, laughs, raffles and doll fun, we were ready to wrap things up and call it a day - there was a disco set up in another hotel hall for people that wanted to continue but it was already late and I had to catch the last metro train back to my hotel. The next post will be about the third and final day of IDC. 

Milano Centrale station  

Milano Centrale station  

Italian Doll Convention 2018 day one: my first ever doll convention!

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! 

The lobby of my hotel

The lobby of my hotel

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.  

The convention hotel

The convention hotel

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!

First indication you are in the right place

First indication you are in the right place

Registration queue - being early means no waiting time. Mario is in the middle, Sebastian with the darker pink shirt and Ibrahim with the black one.

Registration queue - being early means no waiting time. Mario is in the middle, Sebastian with the darker pink shirt and Ibrahim with the black one.

The magical bracelets guaranteeing entry to all events

The magical bracelets guaranteeing entry to all events

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 Teatro where they host their runway shows

The Armani Teatro where they host their runway shows

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. 

Paolo Ventura models

Paolo Ventura models

Paolo Ventura Paper diorama

Paolo Ventura Paper diorama

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. 

Androgyny

Androgyny

Ethnic

Ethnic

Stars

Stars

Accessories 

Accessories 

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!

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Grande Naviglio

Grande Naviglio

Convention bag goodies!

Convention bag goodies!

Best of the bunch: Balmain pencils!

Best of the bunch: Balmain pencils!

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.

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Me with lovely David! It was great meeting him at last!

Me with lovely David! It was great meeting him at last!

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.  

David being interviewed by Rogier 

David being interviewed by Rogier 

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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. 

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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. 

My convention Ciao, Poppy! doll.

My convention Ciao, Poppy! doll.

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photo by Integrity Toys 

photo by Integrity Toys 

photo by Integrity Toys 

photo by Integrity Toys 

 photo by Integrity Toys

 photo by Integrity Toys

 photo by Integrity Toys

 photo by Integrity Toys

Ciao, Poppy! box unopened.

Ciao, Poppy! box unopened.

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. 

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 photo by Integrity Toys

 photo by Integrity Toys

The extra gift outfit 

The extra gift outfit 

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 photo by Integrity Toys

 photo by Integrity Toys

 photo by Integrity Toys

 photo by Integrity Toys

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! 

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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  

First photos of the new articulated Silkstone Barbies are out!

The new year has begun and with it new fashion dolls are starting to appear. Some of the most anticipated dolls this year will be the articulated Silkstone dolls that were announced late last year. The first images have already appeared from three different sources: an interview in Wall Street Journal of Mary Jordan, stylist for Mattel (to read the interview google the article and read it from there as it is locked if you try to access it directly from the link), the instagram stream of another Barbie stylist and designer, Zlatan Zukanovic. and the official Barbie Collector site with a Robert Best interview. The dolls look really good and if the quality of the vinyl is the same as their non-articulated sisters, the bodies will be a hit for re-boding some of my Mattel dolls, depending on the final price of course.


The image above is from the Barbie Collector interview of Robert Best.


In this photo we can see four different versions of the new Silkstone.


The dolls seem to have two different bust sizes - or is it just an illusion?


Tools of a doll stylist - and the new articulated Silkstone as a red head.


Zukanovic posted this doll in his Instagram feed.


A close up.


And another shot - if I get more than one, I might keep one complete.

Photos courtesy of Wall Street Journal/Emily Berl (first three from top) and Zlatan Zukanovic (last three).

Exclusive first look: Em'lia Couture presents: the Röntgen fashion - plus an interview of the creator

The Fashion Doll Chronicles is happy to announce an exclusive: The first presentation of the Röntgen fashion from Em'lia Couture! You can see this incredible creation for the first time in my blog, get the scoop on its inspiration and also read a full interview from the very talented and gracious Emilia. Read on.


FDC: The story behind Röntgen - What was your inspiration behind this fashion? Why did you select making pants this time? How did you pick the fabrics and colours for it?

I must be honest and admit I saw this super sexy Calvin-Klein jeans add and thought “wow, that picture is so hot it makes jeans look high fashion”. I mean I have never been a fan of jeans or any trousers on dolls, but that poster and pose just blew me away. A few weeks later I'm browsing silks in my favourite boutique and I find this curios graphite grey silk dupioni, as thin as air, and it has this weird gold effect to highlight the texture. It was love at first sight and suddenly that CK add was on top of my mind again. Should I do a casual fashion for my dolls? They are supposed to be haute couture dolls, but many owners still prefer to dress them down casual when playing. Besides, maybe brands have different product lines, maybe emiliacouture could have m’ the ready-to-wear line (some of my flickr friends call me Em or Ems). So, I bought all the whopping 5 meters of the fabric they had and just hoped it was enough for production. 






Calvin Klein Jeans advertisement, Fall/Winter 2012 ©Steven Klein 


I always say, “If you copy something make it your own” so I could not just make golden jeans and a black T-shirt and sell it as emiliacouture. That would be stealing in my book. If I was to make jeans they had to be special and all about the “booty”, so I went for a very tailored skinny jeans and the unusually thin fabric made it possible to add pleated details to the pockets. I didn't want the do a traditional jeans cut so each trouser sleeve has 4 seams, but the pants do come with 5 open pockets. I went through countless T-shirt designs and prints, but finally came across 18th century X-Rays of women wearing corsets by Dr Ludovic O’Followell (1908):


(http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/06/18/the-corset-x-rays-of-dr-ludovic-ofollowell-1908/)


It immediately awoke my interest since it addresses my love-hate relationship with corsets. Corsets are absolutely beautiful and sexy and I incorporate them in many of my designs, but forcing women into these Silkstone Barbie like beauty standards is cruel and unhealthy. This is exactly why I made Inamorata body slim yet healthy with a natural waist line. I like stirring conversation with my work and so the Röntgen (name of the inventor of x-rays and also what they are called in Finnish) outfit has 2 print tops: a tank top with picture of a 16" waist corset with a tape measure wrapped around the crushed waist, and sporty T showing an x-ray image of the woman wearing this corset. The shirts are all hand printed on tricot so the prints will get that nice rock’n roll faded look when stretched.









FDC: What inspired the accessories (if any) designed to match this fashion?

A couple of tops and fancy pants don’t make an outfit in my book, so accessories were obviously needed. I had a huge thing for ankle booties already in the Spring when I designed this, so that was the way to go. I wanted to make cool booties that would be cut low enough to so some skin between the trouser legs and boot, and I also find women’s ankle bones very beautiful, so I tried to make a design that would incorporate this. For the heel I used the same golden SpikySpine designs as for Vertebrata, that are actually sculpted by my husband Juhana Hirvonen who also designed our boxes. As for the purse, many labels have a sort of recognisable signature bag and I wanted to create just that for emiliacouture, but there are so many bag designs out there and every time I thought I had come up with something new it had been done. Finally the answer came when I was browsing through my flickr activity, I had already designed an em’lia original purse on 2010, only not for my dolls but for myself using my dad old leather trench coat! 


I made a faux leather miniature version of the tote and a black version of this “emiliacouture signature bag” will complete the Röntgen outfit. The upcoming accessory packs will also feature a yellow and metallic burgundy versions.



 FDC: First give us a little background information about you, who was Emilia before fashion dolls came into the picture?

I was a total tomboy and dolls were for chicks. All my friends were guys and I trained in jiu-jitsu and niten (Japanese martial art known as the path of two swords started by Miyamoto Musashi) 10 times a week. I was in the Finnish military for 9 months as a medic after graduating from high school and my dad was kind of disappointed I didn't become a career officer. I had always loved paying dress up and had made costumes for an amateur theatre group I was part of in middle school, so it was sort of natural step for me to earn money while in business collage by making wedding and evening gowns first for my friends and then gradually for a wider range of customers. I'm not sure when it all changed. Maybe when I was doing my year as an exchange student in Beijing University…

FDC: How did you discover fashion dolls?

My best friend Jing (Wu Xuejing, now my business partner in Odonata Green Ltd.) and my little sister were into Momoko dolls and while studying in China in 2006 I helped them buy some in Hong Kong. I was living with a Chinese student's budget at the time (my scholarship from Beijing University was 800 Yuan per month which was about 80 euros then) and remember being horrified of the thought of spending the exact same sum on a single Momoko doll. I did find them very intriguing and still curse myself for not buying the rare white version of Mama Told Me Momoko, but I just bought the 3 dolls I had been asked to buy and walked out - and went back for a 23cm blank little Obitsu doll.


I was so fascinated with the Obitdu doll’s poseability and soon it was joined by 3 collectable Barbies. One thing that turned me off Barbies as a kid was their fake smile, blond hair, fair skin and blue eyes. For a Finn these are all so boring every day features I much rather went for the He-Man figures. They didn't sell exotic Barbies in my childhood, but in China I was faced with wonderfully angry looking Barbies with dark hair, skin and eyes. It wasn't long before I was browsing the internet for more, found Fashion Royalty and was in my obsessive collector mode.


FDC: When did you decide to start making clothes for your dolls?

Soon after returning from China I had quite a collection of miscellaneous 1:6 scale doll, but these were mainly bought nude as they were cheaper to buy and out of necessity I started making clothes for them. It wasn't really a decision, more like a junkie’s decision to maximise the little cash left: I could sew clothes, but I could not make dolls. I think the first attempts at doll fashion making were already in Beijing for those couple of Barbies I had. I think a dress might be one of the first things I ever made:


FDC: When did you first start selling your doll clothes?

I started photographing my dolls when the Integrity Toys dolls came into the picture on 2007 and joined Flickr. The doll community there and on Dolly Daily and Wclub gave me so much positive reinforcement I entered the Couture Doll Design Challenge on 2009. By the time I had sold some odds and ends, done couple of commissions and 2 very simple casual wear collections, but it was all a hobby and I was astonished every time people were interested in my doll clothes.




Emilia's CDDC participation in 2009 (above and below is the Amazonian Warrior gown)

During CDDC my cat Neru got seriously ill and I started selling my contest entry pieces to cover his treatment. I put an immense amount of work into those first “creations” and was honoured beyond belief when Paul Pham bought the Amazonian Warrior gown and featured it on one of his OOAK Numina dolls. Paul’s generosity and that of many other dolly friends saved my cat’s life and he is now a healthy 10 year old living together with me in China.


FDC: How did you decide to go into doll making?

I had been repainting dolls since the beginning of my collecting hobby. It was just part of the bonding ritual between me and the doll – making it mine. I think I was re-sculpting my dolls after the 4th or 5th IT doll I bought and took my first baby steps in doll making as early as November 2007. This was a 1/6 scale wax model that never got made, but the main joints and general aesthetic are already the same as in Inamorata 5 years later. I don’t think there has ever been a point for me where I have actually stopped and decided to do start doing something; I've just sort of organically drifted towards this.


Body sketch 24.11.2007








Βody with joints 04.12.2007

I got my first Sybarite, a damaged nude Inque, during CDDC and noticed how much easier it was to sew for 16” dolls. I was soon in the 1/4 scale bandwagon and the growing amount of commission works had turned my hobby into a somewhat of a full time job. On late 2011 I archived my early 6th scale wax model and started working on the new 16” model that was to become the Inamorata doll. My first 1/4 scale doll making attempt was an African head sculpt.


First 16” doll head sculpt

I had to change the sculpt when Paul released his Numina Ajuma, as that was too close to mine. There was no copying involved one way or the other, we just admired the same African beauties and I wanted my doll to have a distinctly different look so the 2 wouldn't be mixed up. This is why Nnaji ended up as the second Inamorata sculpt to be released instead of the first.

FDC: Was moving to China essential to pursuing the doll making/fashion making route?

Definitely. We did try the long distance relationship with the factories during the sample making process in the beginning but it was horrible. Every sample took weeks to arrive even with EMS and then a few more sending it back before repairs could be made. After 6 months I flew to the China for 2 weeks and sat at the factory every day to complete the process. Being here in person is the only way to go in my opinion. It’s hard enough dealing with quality control issues in person, but if you have already paid and accepted the production for shipping there is very little you can do if the production isn't what you expected.

FDC: Did you encounter any obstacles before selling/marketing your dolls/clothes?

I don’t even want to open this can of worms. Sometimes I feel like there are nothing but obstacles with production (we had 6 month delays with production so we are now hunting for a new factory) and in China such a simple every day thing like shipping can become a total nightmare. First with Inro the shipping agent gave us the wrong tracking numbers (they have 2 sets: one inside China and one for international tracking, guess which ones we got?) which naturally created a lot of hubbub on the forums. Now with Cherub and Vertebrata sales some packages got stuck for days in Hong Kong because of “over load of packages shipping abroad, especially to EU and air freight limitations”. Every year this time all the goods made in China for Christmas are shipping out and the rational thing to do would naturally be to double the amount of air traffic to match the requirements of the season, but there is a strict monthly standard to air traffic in China and it cannot adjust. *sigh* I love living here, but sometimes things just don’t work and DHL promises of “3 day delivery” cannot be trusted. I live for the design work, but running a doll production is 60% troubleshooting and only 40% design work. It was easier being just an OOAK artist and it is hard now, but I ty to hope and trust it will get better and I few years I can concentrate on the design work and the factories have found some stability.

FDC: Where do you usually sell your dolls/clothing?

OOAKs are usually commissioned by the customers or sold through my mailing list (you can subscribe at www.emiliaocuture.com). The LE items are sold through the emiliacouture webshop (see the previous link) on first-come-first-served basis. With the current unreliability of factories to keep their production schedules I cannot even imagine taking pre orders yet. People are naturally frustrated waiting 6 months for a doll to come out (I know I am), but they’d be out for my head if I had taken their money before hand!

FDC: What inspires you? Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

Everything and everywhere. It can be a beautiful detail I glimpse in a bus or metro, a fabric that speaks to me or a dream (I always have paper and pen on my bedside table). I study a lot of historical garments as everything has already been made, keep an eye on what’s going on the catwalks and street fashion. I often get a huge yearning for some particular colour only to realise it’s the hot trend thing of the upcoming season – but that’s just what fashion mags are supposed to do to your subconscious. Usually my process starts in the fabric shop where I go and feel the materials even more than look at them. The right texture and flow are essential for making a miniature garment work, colour and prints are secondary. When I touch the right fabric my brain just lights up and I know I want to use it, even though the idea itself would be very vague at this point. For LE designs I need to sketch and think because factory production poses many limitations, but for OOAK designs I can let go of all restricting though and just start sculpting the fabric on the dolls body. I hand stitch most of my OOAK work, use a lot of wet sculpting while sewing and generally have no idea what I am about to go. I give my hands full reign and usually what they design is much more interesting than what my head can come up with. .


Wet sculpting shown on the Vertebrata gown

FDC: How long does it usually take from conception to completion for any doll/outfit?

It varies. I like working fast with commissions where the inspiration stays fresh and I can see my work completed within weeks. My concentration spam just isn't ideal for the elongated process of design work, prototyping, samples, production, quality inspections, production issues etc. When I finally get the finished product in my hands it feels old and it because the process does take months to complete. But sometimes I do love taking my time and doing research. The Masai is a perfect example of this. I spend several weeks before the commission studying the Masai culture and traditions, their garments, hairstyles, jewellery and life style. I studies ethnography in university so I still enjoy throwing myself into this kind of work and even though I still try to keep the end result as a high fashion version of the thing, I think the authentic roots set and important base for the design work.


FDC: Who is your fashion icon?

Alexander McQueen. I said before that “everything has already been made“ but McQueen did completely new and unthinkable things. I think he rejuvenated fashion for generations. Such genius often leaves us too early. RIP

FDC: What is your favourite doll to work/design for apart from your own?

Sybarites are definitely on the top of my commissions list for OOAK fashion orders and I love designing for them as they are such demanding little muses, but Numina dolls fall pretty much into the same category. Through my commission work I have had a wonderful chance to see unique dolls such as Deva doll Red Tianshi and a weird little pixie like creature called Skene from Buried in Oblivion. Her curious physique and personality was truly a challenge:


I can’t use an identical design style for all dolls because I always want to take their personality into consideration. FR dolls need business wear, Sybs demand haute couture and child BJDs cute street style.





FDC: What is your all-time favorite doll?

Oh this is a hard one… I get bored too easily to have one favourite for long time. Right now I'm obsessively drooling over Popovy (no doll in particular as they all blow my mind) and Sybarite Concubine. From my own work my favourite is always the newest one I've made.

FDC: What is your most favorite fabric/material to work with and what is your least favorite fabric/material to work with?

My favourite is definitely silk in all its forms. I especially love raw silk, coarse dupioni and 90% silk satin with that essential bit of elasticity that makes it heavenly. Silk can be thin and heavy at the same time and it has the perfect flow for miniature fashions to look real. Least favourite must be polyester and anything trying to be fake silk. I can see and feel the difference instantly and it’s just cheap. I loathe it. 

FDC: What has been the most rewarding part of making dolls and fashions for them?

The people. Every time I have a new commission customer I gain a new friend. The talks about the conceptual design often go deep and personal and we found common ground both in design and in our lives. I think doll collectors are most warm hearted and generous people in the world. I couldn't do what I love without them and it’s their joy of receiving something I made that makes it all worthwhile. If I’d be just me making the exact same things I do now, but keeping them in tucked away where no one can see them it would be like they don't exist. My creations only become real to me when I photograph and share them.

FDC: What is the difficult part of making doll-size clothes?

Lining. I am rubbish at getting it right. Happily the seamstresses at our fashion factory (huge facility of 5 workers including the boss) are better at it than I am.

FDC: Are we going to see more accessories for your outfits? Like bags and shoes? Are you selling them separately from outfits?

Yes. There are 4 accessory packs coming out together with the Röntgen fashion now. I'm hoping to make it a Christmas tradition for our doll line as they make perfect little gifts to give your dolly friends. This year's accessory packs will feature a purse, belt, colour variation of the Vertebrata shoes and a bonus dress since what are accessories if you have nothing to accessorize? Ok, it’s a fashion set, but I'm calling it an accessory pack and packing it a tiny box and putting a smaller price tag on it, so that’s that.

FDC: What kind of details do you make sure to always incorporate into your clothes/dolls?

I want everything to be made like it’s a real sized human fashion, but in miniature. The pockets are real (even the tiny 5th pocket in jeans), the buckles open and bra’s have actual metal under-wire inside the cups. It was the amazing attention to detail that captivated me in my first FR doll and I want to give that same wonderful feeling to every person who gets something I have made.

FDC: What has been your favourite outfit/piece so far and why?

Maybe the Inro jacket because I still don’t know how it came to be as it’s so far from my usual designs. I was just playing with strips of fabric when I came up with the sleeves and I love the cut-out detail on the back of the jacket reminiscent of my Wild Rider Adele OOAK but taken to the next level 


I was absolutely sure the factory could not make the jacket when I gave them the sample and so hyped when I saw they could. 

FDC: Are there any tips or advice for all the doll-clothing makers out there you'd like to share?

Do not make miniature copies of what you see on runways (I know there are endless customers who ask though). Find your own style and if you do copy something make it your own - and rock it!

FDC: Is there anything else you'd like to share about yourself, your dolls or your clothing?

LOL. I went totally blank with this one, but then again its 2am now. I hope I’ll have better brain power tomorrow I hope… ;)

All photos and information courtesy of emiliacouture - Emilia Nieminen - reproduction without permission prohibited.

Marshalka's Dolls blog interviewed me!






It is always a pleasure to be interviewed about my doll and doll blog, an even greater one when the request comes from another doll blogger/collector. Magdalena has the Marshalka's Dolls blog, we have a great friendship on-line so I was really happy to oblige to her request and talk about my collection on her blog. Read the post here. Thank you Magdalena!