Thursday, July 14, 2011

Magnificent Monogram - a doll with a most appropriate name

Monograms are the Integrity Toys couture fashion dolls, wearing often designs of Jason Wu translated from his catwalk or inspired by them. Other times they are dressed with brilliant sartorial creations that reflect a higher, more unique aesthetic than that of the other doll lines of the company. Magnificent is no exception to the rule; in fact, she probably encompasses all that the line stands for: elegance, quality, uniqueness, brilliance.

I had written about this doll when the company sent out the e-mails informing us about their release, the previous photos making me drool with anticipation. It is good to find out that the doll actually is better than what you expected. Magnificent truly lives up to her name. And in her limited edition of 300 she is bound to be highly coveted.

Her face is the classic Monogram sculpt, with a brilliant make up palette of light-handed smoky lids on her eyes (which are almost violet!) and red fiery lips. Her beauty spot enhances her glamour, while her hair is swept away from her face into a very imposing up-do, framed with a plait like a halo. It reminds me a lot of similar hairdos from the late 60s and early 70s, popular with the couture-wearing ladies.

Her gown is a dream. A Magnificent dream. Spun like a Dior or Charles James couture gown, it folds around her body in a soufflé of drapes and folds and tucks, the two colours making a distinct separation of front and back, while the top of the gown finishes of in a knot on her chest. Dramatic and elegant, it is a dress that does not pass unnoticed and was a favourite with many collectors, especially after seeing for the first time, in another incarnation, on the Smouldering Monogram doll in the Integrity convention in 2010. 

The back of the gown is as good as the front. The two points of the black fabric are supposed to connect at the back with the appropriately placed hook but I started the photo shoot without it for added drama.

Above is the gown unhooked at the back.

And here (above) you can see it hooked. Haute.

Her jewellery suite is a perfect compliment to her outfit: flower shaped earrings and a matching necklace set with crystals enhance her beauty and match the gown perfectly. A ring or bracelet would have been a welcome addition. A small clutch or egg-shaped bag would have been great too.

Her shoes are strappy high-heel patent "leather" sandals, great looking but a bit harsh for a gown of this style. Classic silk pumps with flower decorations at the heel and/or an open toe would have been much better IMHO. But the fact remains that Magnificent is truly a doll that lives up to her name. She will make a great addition to most fashion doll collections.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The incredible Renegade Dasha - my first FR2 doll

Integrity Toys launched the FR2 line of dolls to offer a higher quality doll to their clients and "showcase their designers' absolute dedication to detail and refinement". One of the dolls in the line was offered only as a W Club exclusive through a lottery. As the price of the dolls was a bit high for me, I decided to opt only for the chance to win the right to purchase the club doll. During the wait for that, some of the line's dolls arrived and the comments about their quality were worrying, especially considering the price of the dolls. I won the doll and breathlessly waited for her to arrive, discovering in the process that, as the people receiving her stated in their blogs and on forums, her hairdo was problematic. And then she arrived.

She looks gorgeous even while still strapped in her box - which is a very couture box too, from matt carton, with white paper inlay, like a box containing a couture gown from one of the famous french houses. How can you keep her inside then? Off with her ties! Getting her out of the box I discovered that the FR2 dolls, having a different body than the main Fashion Royalty line, also have a different type of stand: it supports the doll under the arms, much like the FR Homme stand:

She is breathtaking. I love the contours of her face (a new sculpt just for the FR2 line, unlike the other two dolls that comprise it), greatly accented by the make up - smoky eyes and bright red lips to match her gown. Her hair, the cause of much consternation to the people that bought her, are side parted and pony-tailed, gorgeously blonde (what you see is actually a mix of shades). Although the prototype images from Integrity seemed to indicate a sleek ponytail (and her description both on Integrity's e-mail and the company website say the same) , JennFL2 posted on-line a photo of the actual doll from the IDEX stand of Integrity, showing the back of her and the hairdo completely different: a bun made of the underneath part of her pulled back hair with the rest of the hair tucked under the bun at the back. How did she arrive?

The hair is nothing like the original photo from IT nor the prototype shown at IDEX back in January (although it is really close to that). It is nothing that cannot be fixed (and people have been really creative throughout the boards and club) but when you pay that much money for a doll, these things are supposed to be non-existent. If the company itself has defined this line of dolls to be a paragon of quality and detail, then something is really wrong here and I do hope it gets fixed. 

Let's move on to the rest of the doll now. Dasha looks very elegant and haute in her red gown, which is tiered with minute fringed "ruffles" from the waist to her toe-tips, while her short sleeves are ruched as is her neckline. It all reminds one of Haute Couture gowns, especially Valentino - I can very well imagine something like this coming out on one of his Alta Moda shows in Rome or Paris. The whole thing is accented with a black slim belt at the waist that has a small bow at the back. The gown zips up the back and is lined - unfortunately in red, which may cause some staining in the future. This is one of the most beautiful gowns Integrity has ever produced.

Of course the new body type helps her pose in a much better way than the regular FR ladies. More detailed articulation and a streamlined body help to achieve nice posing with the doll. She has a second pair of hands to use as well.

Her jewellery consists of a big single square stone ring (ruby red) that was very hard to put on her finger all the way up, a lovely big "silver" cuff and a pair of red drop earrings shaped like daisies. Beautiful set.

Her open-toed shoes are also incredibly detailed: red fabric with crystal embroidery and lovely red ties to finish them off. What is missing from the set is a red clutch bag. And for this price level it should have been there.

Dasha is indeed a great doll, minus that hair thing (and some members also reported a broken arm stub when they tried to remove her left arm to put on her cuff - I put mine on the right which came off easily). Quality control is very important in collectibles and more so in pricey ones. I must say that compared to their cheaper doll lines, FR2 dolls have had the most quality control problems of all. Not a good way to start a new expensive doll line. But most of it is sold out. So what now?