Saturday, January 31, 2009

Living a Sybaritic life: Venus part Two

After shooting Venus in her original outfit (her undies that is), I picked some Gene clothes for her to wear (all of them from the Ashton Drake years), for her first fashion photo shoot. She was a very eclectic lady, picking stuff that would make justice to her versatility and glamour. She fits into Gene clothes with a little extra effort in the hips, as she is a bit wide for them, but most of the stretchier staff she can get into. Not all outfits will button though, especially jackets.
First one, Unforgettable. The mermaid style gown makes her look gorgeous, although it was a bitch getting the stretch petticoat up the top skirt because of the tight fit. You can see her here with the full outfit minus the lace scarf. The wig is from Integrity's Avantguard Lush doll. It is not a perfect fit but with a little effort one can get it to look great. The colours of the gown and jewellery match her make up perfectly.

And a closer look of a star being born. Cover material, wouldn't you say?

Next up was Black Ribbon, which is a copy of a Marlene Dietrich outfit. The jacket was impossible to button up but everything fits, even the gloves. Careful if you put this outfit on a doll, it stains. The hat was difficult to pin on the wig but I finally did it. Wig by Monique.

Gene had an outfit called Little Black Dress. The idea was having a simple basic A-line black dress (40's style) and change looks by simply changing the accessories included. First try, the lace cuff and bib, with the matching hat - a mix of Morticia Adams and Amish style into one. The hat was again difficult to pin on the Lush wig. The different positioning of the hat makes for some very interesting photography.

Then a quick wig change and you have a completely different vibe. Wig by Monique.

Second set for the LBD: the Chanel approach. Multiple chains piled at neck and waist, with a matching hair band complete with white flower and black tulle. She looks like Madonna wearing Chanel.

The third set was the most surprising: the plaid hat and bustle match Venus's eccentric style and brought out her supermodel self in a way I had not anticipated - especially without any wig.

There was a fourth option (with a small forest green gilet) but the result were disappointing. So on we were to a gorgeous evening dress, Derby Eve. The fit is not perfect, especially at the hips, but the result is fantastic (the flowers in the Lush wig are from the ensemble):

A wig change (wig by Monique) was all it took to transform her to a sultry night club singer.

A suit was something I wanted to see Venus in very much - so she tried Perfect Gift: a green shantung suit with burgundy rose accents and matching tasselled bag. The short Monique wig was a perfect fit for this style, making the whole thing look much more modern. Shoes here are from Tonner's Vintage Shoes accessory pack from the GWTW collection.

The peplum style jacket fits her perfectly, enhancing her silhouette. If only she could stand better on her stand.

Looking for something more couture like, I put a Tonner outfit on her: Anniversary Gala from the 2004 Tyler Wentworth collection. The short embroidered jacket, trimmed with fur, combined with the brocade full skirt makes Venus look like a million bucks. I put the jacket onto her back side front to make it look like a bolero. You can see the results below (wig by Monique):

After all the outfit changes, Venus suddenly decided to relax. So what better way than to "slip into something more comfortable"? Gene's "The Kiss" , with its marabou trimmed satin peignoir lined with shimmering silver lame and a matching gown looked perfect, the light pink matching Venus's make up to a T. And she posed even without any wig, looking gorgeous.

Wig from the Lush Avantguard doll.

All Monique wigs bought from Facets by Marcia.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Living a Sybaritic life: Venus part one

Superfrock are two English doll creators, Charles and Desmond, who create what has come to be considered as the crème de la crème of fashion dolls: The Sybarites. A collection of resin 16" dolls released in small quantities that are so eagerly anticipated that almost every edition disappears from their online store minutes after it hits the website. The dolls have unique looks, and up until now, shared almost the same sculpt (the second generation, 2006 onwards dolls, called clone 0104). In the end of 2008, Superfrock released the three IT girls, dolls that were a kind of basic Sybarite, if that term can be applied to these dolls. One of them, Inque, a brand new sculpt, was released as an exclusive to a US doll shop, ANGELIC DREAMZ. Another, Raja, also a brand new sculpt, was an exclusive for Haute Doll magazine. The third one, Venus, was sold directly from Superfrock. I do not know if it was the timing, or the economic crisis, or the basic concept, but her price was almost half of what these dolls usually go for. And of course, I could not resist - it is now or never, I thought. And Venus arrived.

Let's see what the creators say about their dolls:

These 17 inch resin, ball jointed dolls are for the adult collector who wants a true haute-couture, contemporary, fashion doll with an exquisite up to the second wardrobe and plenty of attitude. They are not intended as toys for children.
The name "SYBARITE" means "a person devoted to luxury and pleasure" . The creators of THE SYBARITES are Charles Fegen and Desmond Lingard who began SUPERFROCK LTD. in London about ten years ago. At first the artists created beautiful one of a kind couture for Barbie, Tonner and Gene yet they longed for their own fashion doll to reflect their own aesthetics. Their dream became a reality in 2005 with the release of the first Sybarites.

Indeed. So let us see what's all the hoopla about. The box that Venus arrived in is a black nice one, bigger than your usual vinyl doll box (unless you get a Tonner Scarlet O' Hara dressed doll). That is because: a)Sybarites are 17 inches tall, slightly taller than the vinyl fashion dolls currently on the market, and b) due to the material they are made of, they have to travel into a protective casing, so the box is made to hold them firmly in place and all lined in satin, to minimize damage to the sensitive material. And what is this material? A resin which is strung with elastic. The joints are engineered to rotate (with 15 points of articulation) and this, along with the elastic, gives the doll a wonderful 'live' quality when you hold her. While the dolls will not stand without some help (such as a stand, or careful posing in the right pair of shoes), they can assume many lifelike poses, far more than the average vinyl fashion doll.

So you start getting the doll out of her trappings: wraps, stitches, rubber bands etc. The box included her lingerie (we are talking basic doll after all, so no elaborate gown the way a Sybarite usually is dressed), a box with her high heeled Sybarite logo-ed slippers and her stand and wig (excellent quality fiber and a lovely "dirty" blond colour, also has an elastic band to help keep it in place, at is is removable). Sybarites are all wigged dolls. Some of the Sybarites are designed so that their wigs may be removed. Others have more elaborate hairstyles and those wigs will be firmly glued on.

First impressions: Quality overall. Attention to detail. Even on this basic doll. And the doll? Her figure is gorgeous and very womanly . The dolls are anatomically suggestive (very suggestive, trust me). The hip joints are not meant to be on view and all Sybarites originally came with hose, but not Venus. The truth is those joints look very strange, but you get used to them. I really liked the feel of the resin when I touched it. It feels warm and soft, unlike vinyl. But, like fine porcelain, the resin can be breakable and some ordinary sensible care should be used when handling a Sybarite, such as dressing her on a padded surface and preventing falls.

There are three body types: the handmade early dolls made in England (such as Tattoo, Cosma and the Chalk Whites), marked on the small of the back SDMDR © 2004/5, the original factory body in a lighter resin, made in Asia, marked SYBARITE ©2004/5, and the revised factory made dolls which debuted in 2006 marked THE SYBARITES ©2006/7 . The later dolls are slightly larger in the bust and hip, but the difference is not very great. The body has articulation on the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, chest (under the breasts), waist (below the belly button), hips (those strange ball joints) knees and ankles. Since mid-2007 all Sybarites have felted joints: i.e. the joints are lined with a material which provides an improved handling quality and helps with posing. Her hands and feet are very nicely sculpted, with beautiful fingers that look very realistic (for a fashion model at least). Her breasts are amazingly sculpted too, looking very natural and feminine, unlike most fashion dolls in the market these days.

The doll's face is a dream: she has an airbrushed make up, in tones of pink, with matte painted eyeshadow over those gorgeous electric blue eyes and attached eyelashes (the eyes are painted). Her lips are a warm glossy pink, with matching hand and toe nails. Her sculpt is amazing and very photogenic, with high cheekbones, a nice clear jawline, a long small nose and beautifully arched brows. Venus has a make up that is not as extreme as Sybarites usually have: that results in a very versatile doll, that can have many incarnations in a variety of styles. And that is the definition of a basic doll, isn't it? Unfortunately, due to the material's nature, Sybarites do not have ear holes for earrings. Some collectors have corrected that with miniature drills but I know that most of the people that own one of these dolls would squirm in the thought of a drill coming anywhere near their resin goddess.

What about her clothing - ahem, lingerie? A basic set of bra and panties, in vibrant pink satin with black ribbon details and yes, lined in white. Exquisitely made and perfectly fitting, with the dainty high heeled slippers being the icing on the cake, they match her face paint. Unfortunately no hosiery is included, which makes posing Venus in her underwear a bit uncomfortable, as the big hip joints show in all their garishness. Her stand is well made but I would prefer the saddle to have a better grip on the doll, for stabilizing her through poses and also give the owner a sense of security - these are not vinyl dolls and will be damaged with a fall.

Her poseability is not easy to manage. Being a heavy doll, she need to either stand on her stand or sit on a chair. The stand thing is a bit tricky: new strung dolls are notoriously difficult to handle, as the strings are not loose enough and can be difficult to pose, especially in more demanding poses. The sitting options always works better, as the weight issue is eliminated, and the doll can take very sultry poses. Her face helps a lot - her overall face paint and style help give to photos an ethereal almost life like quality, so missing from most vinyl dolls. And of course, one has to be careful posing this doll - the nature of the material means always having clean hands (wash wash wash) and taking extra care handling her to avoid any cracks. Of course, after posing Venus in her lingerie, I decided it was time she stepped into some other clothing, to see how versatile she is as a model - and believe me, she's a regular clothes horse. But more about that in the next post.

Information about the dolls and their makers taken from the very helpful Idiot's Guide To The Sybarites by Lauri Guardi.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year!

I wish to all of you a happy new year, with lots of health, love and happiness!

and are are the best wishes ever, from my favourite writer, Neil Gaiman:

...I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you'll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you'll make something that didn't exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind.