Yesterday I explained why things have been a little crazy at Inside The Fashion Doll Studio. I have been working well over a month and a half ( since Fashion Royalty convention really) to get our house ready for a charity holiday tour that included the doll room. The same weekend the tour happened, I was also contracted to photograph my daughter’s dance schools dress rehearsal of The Nutcracker. We also needed to attend her performances. I also hosted a ladies holiday tea for about 50 ladies and to top it off…it was my birthday in there somewhere. There was LOTS going on the weekend of December 6 – 8th.
I left off in part one of this post explaining my anxiety at opening up the doll room to the public for this holiday walk. I was anxious to see what people would think. I was fully prepared to answer a few questions and field comments like “Are you crazy?’. What I was not prepared for was to be fully occupied the three hours Deanna, Hilda and I proctored the doll room area with comments, questions and exclamations of joy and wonder. I called the evening “better living through Barbie”. I think the thing I heard the most as people came up the stairs to the doll room area was their surprised gasps of “ OH MY GOD!!” upon seeing some of the collection for the first time. It was an exclamation of an unexpected positive experience.
The collection was not what people were expecting and the look of amazement when they looked around warmed my heart. When I questioned people “ Not what you were expecting was it? You were expecting the Barbies you see at Target right?” They would reply every single time “ Yes!” with a wide-eyed expression. I received thank you upon thank you for sharing the collection. There were lines to get up to the doll room area. At some points during the day, there were lines just to get into the house let alone the doll area. The Assistance League of the Eastside had told people that there would be some Barbie experts on hand from the hours of 4-7pm to answer questions. People came back! They came back and brought their mothers, their daughters, their sisters and some even brought back their husbands. I think that was the biggest surprise of the evening for me. These husbands not only came into the doll area but they spent time looking AND ASKED QUESTIONS! I was completely amazed and overwhelmed at the outpouring of interest. I enjoyed hearing the rich tapestry of stories and Barbie memories that unfolded throughout the evening. Sisters recounted playtime memories with each other, Grandmothers and mothers remembered sewing or crocheting for Barbie and the granddaughters and daughters remembered learning how to sew through Barbie. Many remembered the first experiences of self expression through cutting their Barbie’s hair.
The fashion was another big topic of discussion. There were many conversations about particular designer influences and most everyone enjoyed the 1/6 scale purse tree in the actual doll room itself. I had a buyer for Federated Department Stores come up to me and say how much she loved how everything was displayed.
1. How long have you been collecting? Since my daughter was 3 so a little over 10 years.
2. Why did you start collecting? My daughter received a collector Barbie when she was 3 and my first thought was “ Great! who gives a 3 yr old a collector Barbie? She is going to trash it!” But she didn’t so I thought maybe collector Barbies would be something we could do together…you know…something for Christmas and birthdays. I started to do some research on collector Barbies and started looking at Barbiecollector.com and was blown away by the collector doll offerings. I essentially went down the rabbit hole at that point….and have not come out yet.
3. How many dolls do you have? I currently have around 600 and that is most likely as big as it will get. I am maximized right now which means…if something comes in…something has to go out.
4. What is the most expensive doll? I never really answered that question…instead I would point to some of the rarer items that are in the collection. I have a BFMC display case that is a treasure in my collection and I managed to procure a City Smart Silkstone Barbie through a great doll friend a couple years ago. I also have a set of 1/6 Bespaq bedroom furniture that is very rare and I treasure that as well.
Some of the new displays for this year are as follows:
I adored the garden scene I shot so much that it became a permanent display in the doll room
I also picked up some amazing 1/6 scale furniture pieces in Paris this past year.
Elizabeth Taylor joined the work room display
and the nightclub scene
New Fashion Royalty convention additions
And a new treasure added for the walk. A stunning pink silk and French lace gown by Hilda of Bellissima Couture. She made me this for my birthday…and I just about cried when I saw it. Stunningly beautiful beyond words!! Love ya Hilda…Mwah!
The entire day of participating in this home tour and showing this collection was a completely amazing experience and the fact that it helped raise money to support local and very necessary programs made it that much more meaningful. In this season of giving, I am so very grateful to all the people who opened their hearts, minds and pocketbooks to support the Assistance League of the Eastside. I also want to thank those who came up to me and personally commented on the collection. As an avid collector, It was a complete joy to see the love of this doll expressed and for some rekindled.
At the end of August of this year, just as my family and I were home from a long vacation abroad, I was approached by the fabulous ladies of the Assistance League of the Eastside. They hold a holiday home tour fundraiser every year that raises money to fund programs that support families in need in our community. They typically have 5- 6 homes on the tour every year and these homes open their doors to roughly 1200 visitors for a day to show off their holiday décor. The tour runs from 10AM in the morning until 7PM at night. This year, they had a house that had to pull out of the tour and the Assistance League approached me to help out. The main reason they came to me…..the doll room.
Apparently news of the doll room is out and about in my local community. I have to admit, I am always a little nervous talking to non collectors about having a doll room. You get the gamut of responses from people when you tell them that you…as an adult…collect Barbie. Some will take an uncomfortable step back and look at you as if you just said you were schizophrenic…and off meds. Some will immediately downgrade their opinion of you and lump you in with the sad individuals they recently saw on a “Hoarders” episode. You can understand that making the decision to open up the doll room for viewing did not come without a great deal of anxiety. I wondered what people would think. I know that my fellow collectors love the doll room but I was really unsure about what a non collector would think of it. Then I had a moment of clarity….I came back to the reason why I collect in the first place….because I enjoy it. When anyone collects anything, it typically is because they enjoy doing it. If they like it enough to hook into a group of other collectors who enjoy collecting the same thing, they REALLY enjoy it. I decided I was not going to be worried about possibly being labeled the crazy “Barbie” lady and just enjoy showing off something that I truly love to collect. There would be people who get it…and people who didn’t…and that was okay.
To me, and I am finding to many many others, Barbie is a touchstone of sorts. Most woman you talk with today have a Barbie experience to share. I have found that when you put a group of woman together and give them this touchstone, it creates an amazing bonding experience. You can have a group of woman from all different backgrounds, ages, professions and all of the sudden you are all connected through this one toy. You all have an experience to share and that connects you. There are multiple points of connection too. Sometimes it isn’t about the doll but about the fashion and the discussion that promotes. My greatest joys in sharing this doll room through the blog and with friends and family are the sharing of those stories and memories and the connection it creates. It is just plain fun.
If I was going to do this, open up the doll room to roughly 1200 people, I decided I needed to call in some fellow doll experts for the event. I enlisted the help of my dear friends Hilda and Deanna. They graciously agreed to donate their time and expertise to help me show off the collection. I could not have done this without them…from the bottom of my heart “Thank You!” We had told the Assistance League that we would proctor the doll room and landing during the evening hours of the holiday tour. If people had questions, they could come back during those hours and “ask the experts” so to speak.
So…what was the response?? Tune in tomorrow for more pictures and The Doll Room Goes On Display: Part II.