So who has heard of Boudoir Dolls?

Well if you are like me you may just have had a notion that they are fairly old and made for displaying on your bed. And yes, you would be right. But there is so much more to these dolls than I realised.

Images of my Latest Doll,

 Miss Antoinette Concello

 Miss Concello was a member of the famous “Flying Concello” aerial troupe, the premier troupe of aerialists in the 1920s, and Antoinette became known as the “greatest woman flyer of all time” because she was the only woman to complete the fabled “triple” (see Carol Reed’s 1956 film “Trapeze” for background about this legendary stunt). A triple means that the aerialist completes three full somersaults while “flying” through the air after leaving their bar and being caught by a “catcher” hanging upside down on the opposite bar. It is a dangerous stunt.

I decided that I wanted to make my latest Makers Medley challenge doll in the style of a boudoir doll, the theme was circus and I wanted to get a feel of that old-style circus from the 20’s to the 50’s, so I decided to look into what made a doll a boudoir doll and learn a bit about their history. And I can tell you, I found it quite surprising.

As I knew these dolls were meant for adult collectors not children and were the prequel for the pile of pillows we now see on beds in décor magazines. But there is more to the craze that swept Europe and the USA in the 20s.

According to boudoir doll collector and maker Barbara Sutton-Smith; “After being introduced at the Paris fashion show in 1910, where Poiret’s models paraded cradled these long legged dolls with adult looking features…the Boudoir Doll became all the rage.”

But the height of the craze was in the 20’s, World War one had ended in 1918 and now there was peace and better prosperity, but not so many men around. Young women had discovered more freedom during the war covering the soldier’s jobs.  And after the war they weren’t willing to give it up, and the grown-up social and economic customs and traditions that were in place before the war, weren’t there any more, so it is thought that the young girls saw no need to grow up, and carried on playing with dolls.

There are reports that many of them attended dances carrying these dolls with them.

Americans, visiting or possibly fleeing probation came over and discovered the dolls, took them home and then movie stars became obsessed too. Rudolph Valentino had 160 made. Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, Clara Bow and lots of other stars appeared on screen and out with their dolls. And the fans fell in love and followed suit.

 

The Battle of the Sexes is a 1928 American comedy film directed by D. W. Griffith

The dolls themselves were long and slender with thin bodies and adult features. They were made from high quality materials, quite often having silk faces delicately painted with bright red lips and elaborate costumes like the flappers themselves wore, often risqué and low cut. Some even had cigarettes. Often, they were large too, over 2-foot long.

Not everyone was pleased though, the elder generation was not impressed. A book written by Pierre Calmette called Les Poupees de Paris, claims that the dolls are to blame for the fall in the French birth rate, with women neglecting their wifely duties to play with dolls and the dolls had found their way into every bedroom in France.

Dr Max Schlapp, professor of Neuropathology was quoted as saying ‘these exaggerated dolls are the temporary whim of abnormal women. I use the word advisedly, because women who are normal have children and have no time to waste on baubles. The changes in the economic and industrial world in the last 50 years are to blame in a great measure for the emotional instability found in women of today.’

The stock market crash of 1929 destroyed many doll companies and although the boudoir doll continued for a while they soon waned in popularity perhaps due to the onset of the depression.

Nowadays though highly collectable again, I doubt you would find many collectors carrying them about when they go out in the evening.

 

 

 

 

 

Well I do hope you found that interesting, and go on to find out more. Next time I hope to be experimenting with natural dyes and the next doll history post will be in about 1 month, follow me on Facebook or Instagram to find out when exactly.

Until next time.

hugs

Ally