Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fashion Royalty: Going Places Vanessa

The Fashion Royalty convention this year was very successful for everyone involved. Integrity and Jason Wu managed to present a well coordinated glamorous event and the attendees had a blast attending the various events and picking up lots of dolls: this was the convention with the most dolls released ever. The theme was The Royal Life. And here we will start a series of articles presenting some of the convention dolls. First to arrive, the beautiful Going Places Vanessa.

Vanessa Perrin is considered the most sought after face of Fashion Royalty dolls. Each one of her re-incarnations becomes an instant collectible, its value rising much higher than the retail price. The reason? It is not the number of dolls being produced for sure; even the Vanessas on big releases have become collectibles. I guess it is the face mold: she's the best looking Fashion Royalty lady ever made. My personal preference may be Kyori, but every Vanessa doll released is looking great, a thing not easily said about Kyori Sato dolls.

This Vanessa is no exception. Dark haired, with smoky eyes and sensuous coral lips, she is simply stunning. The hairdo, a double French twist, gives her an air of hauteur, befitting the royal theme of the convention. There were again complaints of badly painted eyes, but far less than Pale Fire Vanessa (see previous post here).

Her jewellery set is impressive but not anything unusual. Filigree "gold" chandelier earrings with coral and black "pearls", with matching necklace. A bracelet would have been a nice addition, after all, she is a convention doll.

Her dress is the classic mermaid style gown that Jason Wu has given us countless times until now, especially in event or special dolls. This one looks even a bit like the Lights, Camera, Royal Veronique gown. Here we get it in a blue/black fabric with tulle and lace overlay. I love the draping on this gown, especially around the hips, pity it gets lost as it is black on black. The lace is gorgeous, with a lovely eyelash finish:

Underneath, contrary to expectations, she is wearing only flesh colored panties. No elaborate garters and stockings here. Her shoes are not much better than Pale Fire : black strappy shoes again, nothing to brag home about and certainly not royal looking.

So, while the doll itself is lovely, as all Vanessas usually are, the total package leaves a lot to be desired: un-original dress, less then stellar shoes and underwear, incomplete jewellery set for a royal lady (the crown given with her at the convention only does not justify the title by itself). The advantage is in that she makes a very good substitute for those like me who do not have a dark haired Vanessa and especially the raven A Fashionable Life Vanessa FAO special doll.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tonner: GWTW Kissing Ashley Goodbye outfit

This is one of the two outfits from the Gone With The Wind Tonner series released this fall. They are both Scarlett's costumes. As the actual Tonner Scarlett doll is not yet released, I tried this on my FM Scarlett, still the best likeness of Vivien Leigh in the doll market. And here she is:

The dress has a shirred white bodice, in a soft fabric, anchored by red ribbons, with short puffed sleeves with the same trim. Considering scale and all, it looks very faithful to the film. It has a shirt collar neckline, with a small cameo brooch on it. The brooch is grey and looks plastic and cheap, not much of a jewel. No other jewellery is included with the outfit, although they should have added the two bows on combs Scarlett is wearing in her hair. Here is a close up of the actual actress:

The doll is also missing the big golden comb at the back of her hairdo. As one can see in the film, the cameo is tasseled and looks expensive. Contrary to what Franklin Mint did with the film's jewellery in it's GWTW dolls, Tonner's accessories seem poor in comparison. Check out the cameo below.

The skirt is, as with Tonner Melanie's dress, huge. And I mean it: she takes so much place on the shelve, she might as well be alone on it. Or even be a lamp shade, LOL. I love this volume, it makes the doll's waist look even smaller (much like the real dresses were supposed to at the time) and the deep red colour is much more impressive up close than on the photos. It is lined in white silk. The difference with the real one is only in it's drape: the actual skirt looks more gathered at the waist than the doll version does. I do not know if this is due to scale or fabric considerations, but see the real thing here:

The outfit is completed by a white sash tied at the waist. It ends in a silk fringe with lovely detail:

The sash looks out of scale as one can see from the photo below, but with a skirt this big, it might not have looked good otherwise:

I also have it tied wrong, the knot in the film is quite different, but I made the captures after I had done the photo shoot of the doll. So please forgive that!
The outfit does not come with the undergarments to support the massive volume of the skirt. So, if you want to display it properly, you have to buy the extra underpinnings set that Tonner has released. This consists of a chemise, pantalettes and a layered hoop skirt with wired rings. Much like the ones found on the Melanie doll, this helps the skirt stay full and look its best. I did not put the chemise under the dress but it seems that it can be worn by Scarlett without a problem under it. I would have gone for a corset though. Here is the first layer of the hoop skirt:

There is no tulle layer here, but the silky second layer of Melanie's undergarments. It does not seem to diminish the ability of the hoop skirt to show the dress skirt properly, so no objections to that. Under that first silky layer with the lace trim, we can see the hoops, made in exactly the same way as Melanie's.

And of course the necessary pantalettes:

The boots, in red leather with matching red ties and black soles look great and even fit FM Scarlett nicely. Here Tonner scores high: although they are not as nice as Melanie's shoes, they are infinitely better than those hideous plastic FM boots.

In total we have a nice ensemble, one that no other company ever made for their Scarlett dolls. It will make a nice addition to the FM Scarlett collectors who do not already own it through one of the talented seamstresses making excellent versions of it out there (Alana from Doll Fashions By Alana comes first to mind-see her version here)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Fashion Royalty: Pale Fire Vanessa

This year's Fashion Royalty main line, Cult Couture, had Asian as well as Gothic influences. The best doll from the whole line up is by far Pale Fire Vanessa, combining a beautifully done doll with an interesting outfit and accessories. Things are far from perfect though, as we shall see.

Her face is painted in dark plum colours, especially the lips. Heavy lidded and with real lashes added, her eyes look sultry - although many people got dolls with wonky eyes (either cross-eyed or looking too much upwards or both), a fact prevalent among recent Fashion Royalty produced dolls. Lets hope this gets fixed in future releases.

Her hair is dark brown, almost black, swept up and away from her face into a big chignon with a "knot" at the lower back. It looks elegant and graceful and it is the perfect setting for her hair ornaments: a mass of purple flowers at the crown of her head, with additional colourful jewels on each side of it - her right side, where you can also see her jewellery set:

As you can see, she has a big colourful stone and wire necklace, with matching chandelier earrings and bracelet. They are matched to her hair ornaments, adding a dash of colour to the monochromatic ensemble. Here she is from her left side:

Her dress is a big ball gown. And when I say big I mean BIG! Made of a gunmetal taffeta (synthetic) in two layers (both lined) with an overlay of iridescent transparent synthetic fabric, it looks glamorous but feels a bit cheap to touch. The skirt consists of a base full skirt, over which are sewn two panels of the same fabric, starting shorter at the front and cascading in waves to the back, where they make a train and end in points. Some collectors reported that the skirt panels did not match at the front. Mine do, but one seems to be jutting sidewards more than the other. The iridescent over-skirt falls over these panels in the same way. Here are the three layers exposed:

The bodice, shaped like a corset, has side panels embroidered with micro-sequins. They look nice for scale and are dark, fitting with the overall look of the gown.

And here is a back view of the gown. It closes with a tiny zipper:

Underneath the skirt, there is a petticoat made of tulle and lace, to support it. Unfortunately, it is too small and soft to be of any help with the massive layers on top of it.

Underneath all those layers of fabric, tulle and lace, she is wearing undies! Yes, a rare treat for dressed dolls, she has black panties, garters and mesh black stockings on:

Her shoes, disappointingly, are of the rubbery molded variety. They are black strappy sandals that slip on her stockinged feet. Some people mentioned that they were hard to put on, although mine slid on easily, without any hassle. They are sturdier than FR Eugenia Frost Face Time's but still they look and feel cheap.

Overall, Pale Fire Vanessa is a beautiful doll, although her outfit could have been better made. A sore point for me is the repetition of shape for FR gowns. All FR dolls wearing a gown seem to fall into two categories: the big ball gown and the mermaid skirt gown. I bet Mr. Wu, as a fashion designer , can design something different for his doll line. Also her shoes should have been of better quality (why not leave these for cheaper lines?). I hope details like these are taken care of in the future, as this line keeps getting more expensive by the season. Time will tell.