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1920s Theater Costuming and Boudoir Dolls

Sue sent me photos of this fantastic suede head doll. Along with these photos, Sue told me "The hands are very similar to Lilith hands, long and elegant, but suede. Lilith has composition hands. The most important and interesting thing for me is the metallic braid work on the jacket in that it reflects a time in France when it was used in costuming for theatre and dolls also. I also did the measurement from the LHJ article (Ladies Home Journal) to see if this doll was similar to the dolls referred to. There are a few similarities, the length of doll is 34 inches, arms 14 inches, shoulder to waist is 71/2 inches but the legs, having the same shape, are shorter being only 18 inches?"

"The first three decades of the 20th century was the renaissance of doll making that will never be repeated. Modern 'dollmakers' are still using the early dolls as inspiration. It changed our ideas of what a doll was.The doll as Art.

While, this change may have started in Germany. it was the French that refined the Art doll. I think it was the interaction of the Art culture, theatre,haute couture, painting etc, of France that combined to produce some magnificent dolls.We see this in not only in the construction of the dolls, with the move away from mass production porcelain dolls, but the costumes that they wear. However when we change the costume, we loose part of the doll's history?"

I agree with Sue. If we can save the original costume or salvage what we can and/or recreate a costume as close to the original as possible, we are doing these dolls justice. Unfortunately, I am not a restorer so my contribution is to keep the doll pretty much as I find them.

"Costume from Sleeping Princess, 1921, Leon Baskt. Costume from Parade, 1917, after Pablo Picasso The metallic braid was used on many costumes. (See metallic braiding on Ballet Russe costume and both male boudoir dolls; suede and Rosalinde)"

"Costume of the Chinese conjurer (Ballet Russe). Very similar to costume in the 1923 LHJ article of doll."


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