Jul 19, 2016

#62 Dateline Paperdollywood - 2016 Paper Doll Convention, Phoenix Art Museum, Couture Confessions

Phoenix Convention Souvenir Paper Dolls

The 2016 Paper Doll Convention, hosted by Jane Alfano Rasor, was enjoyed by more than 80 enthusiastic collectors, dealers and artists. Many attendees were newbies who live locally and hadn’t before experienced the fun and friendship that always blooms at the annual paper doll conventions. Because there were slightly fewer people, I had more of a chance to visit, to socialize and spend more time getting to know people better, and I liked that a lot. The fun began with a museum visit and bus tour, followed by a “Fiesta” themed party including a delicious Mexican buffet, the first of the banquets including Italian, Asian and French feasts, each one commemorated with a “Small World” menu by Linda Hoerner.

The following three and a half days were packed with informative and entertaining presentations and instructive workshops, plus a day of selling and the ever-popular raffle (bigger than ever!) and an exciting silent auction. As always, the souvenir paper doll books especially created for the convention are collectible reminders of a good time had by all. A red tote bag was presented as attendees registered and in it was a coloring book by Shannon Finch, “It’s a Mod, Mod European Tour.” The first souvenir book distributed was “Miss Paper Doll World,” an imaginary beauty competition with each entrant a paper doll by Alina Kolluri, Gregg Nystrom, Ralph Hodgdon, Brenda Sneathen Mattox, Diedre O’Tierney, Patricia Corte Rooney, Eileen Rudisill Miller, Larry Bassin and Kwei-Lin Lum. The next evening’s souvenir featured paper dolls starring in movies with foreign themes. “Roman Holiday” by Eileen Rudisill Miller, “On an Island with You” by Ted Menton, “Kismet” by Marilyn Henry, “Mogambo” by Norma Lu Meehan, “Anna Karenina” by Bruce Patrick Jones and “Julie and Julia” by Karen Hunter. 

Dress a Doll and Menu
 My Outfit dressing Rudy’Dress-a-Doll and Linda’s Asia Menu. 

Two Menus
Linda’s Paris and Italy Menus.

Shannon Finch Coloring Book
Shannon Finch’s Coloring Book.

Miss World Paper Doll Souvenir
Kwei-Lin’s Beauty Queen and Miss Paper Doll World Book Cover.

Miss World
Beauty Queens by Brenda Sneathen Mattox and Diedre O’Tierney. 

Mysterious Geisha
The Mysterious Geisha by Sandy Vanderpool. 

Sandy’s gorgeous Geisha Kimonos.  
World of Movies
Meryl Streep by Karen Hunter and Roman Holiday by Rudy Miller.

World of Movies
Kismet by Marilyn Henry and Mogambo by Norma Lu Meehan. 

Dior Paper Doll by Jim Howard
Paris Dior Cover and Dolls by Jim Howard.
Dior Costumes
Dior Creations by Jim Howard.
Around the World
Around the World in 80 Days Cover by Me. 

Around the World
Character Dolls from Around the World in 80 Days. 

Conventioneers' Dress-up Time in Phoenix

A growing tradition at the paper doll conventions is the fun of playing dress-up in an outfit expressing each evening’s theme. What originally began as a Saturday evening fancy frock opportunity is growing and in Phoenix even Jane Alfano Rasor’s delicious banquets reflected the fun themes. “Fiesta,” “Exotic Asia,” “Roman Holiday” and “Evening in Paris” brought out the inner fashionista of many conventioneers. 

Mexican Fiesta
Dressing-Up for Fiesta. 
Asia Dress Up Night
Dressing-Up for Exotic Asia. 
Evening in Paris
Dressing-Up for Evening in Paris. 

Defining Divine Moments in Fashion

The convention kicked-off with a visit to the gorgeous Phoenix Art Museum where we enjoyed a docent-guided tour of a special exhibition that displayed a brilliantly curated selection of 50 important gowns from the museum’s vast vintage collection. Many wealthy women of the desert city are patrons of the Museum and donate funds as well as their own couture creations. The exhibition occupies two galleries that had been decorated with whimsical fashion silhouettes by artist Ruben Toledo (husband of designer Isabel Toledo). Beginning with several beautifully preserved 18th century highly ornamented confections, the changes in silhouette from then-to-now were carefully charted. Starting with a gown by Charles Fredrick Worth (history’s first designer to put his name on the label), the exhibition is like a Who’s Who of designer names including Fortuny, Vionnet, Chanel and Schiaparelli. The second, larger gallery positioned a Charles James creation as the focal piece and followed it with Dior, Ardrian, Valentina, Saint Laurent, and Givenchy among others. 

Personally, I found the more modern, 21st Century designers sadly lacking in elegance and grace, not to mention wearability. A close look at the credits revealed the now-familiar story that most of the current clothes are in fact runway showstoppers that were never worn by anyone but a fashion model, thus disagreeing with Chanel’s famous statement that, “It isn’t fashion until it is worn on the streets.” Right you are, Coco! I’m not the only fashion professional trying to equate true fashion with today’s runway artworks. Bridget Foley of WWD Women’s Wear Daily recently wrote an op-ed entitled “Museum Pieces” and in it, she said, “…Maybe it’s time for current fashion to disengage briefly from its own deification, to take a hiatus from pondering the deep, historical meaning of clothes made 10 minutes ago and refocus on that original purpose, still valid after 170 millennia…dressing people. And, in a modern twist, selling them first.” 

Phoenix Art Museum
Charles James gown at Phoenix Art Museum Exhibit.
Phoenix Art Museum
Murals by Ruben Toledo and Gauntlets, 1650, the oldest item in the Museum’s collection.
Phoenix Art Museum
Fancy 18th Century Confections. 
Phoenix Art Museum
Decorative Trims on 18th Century menswear, 19th Century Worth gown, 20th Century Schiaparelli suit. 
Phoenix Art Museum
Couture Creations by Worth, Chanel and Vionnet

Couture Confessions in Designer's Own Words

Pamela Colbin has written an unusual book, “Couture Confessions: Fashion Legends in Their Own Words.” It is a clever cut-and-paste compilation consisting of many interviews given by legendary fashion designers. The result reads as a revealing portrait of the real person behind the famous labels, eleven fascinating personalities from Paul Poiret to Alexander McQueen. The author even has created an imaginary “round table” discussion between several superstar talents. The book is brilliantly illustrated with portraits by Yann Legendre, graphically bold artwork that imitates wood-cuts. Available for $23.66 on Amazon.com. A sampling of designer quotes… Paul Poiret: The avant-garde designer…such as myself…has to have his wits about him. He must be tenacious and farsighted. It’s not always easy! Coco Chanel: Few designers have been copied as much as I have, and it has always given me great joy. I always side with the majority. Christian Dior: A fashion devoid of a certain poetic resonance is worthless. All the fashions I have created have come from the heart. Alexander McQueen: I like blowing people’s mind. It’s a buzz. Like a fix, for twenty minutes. Fashion should be a form of escapism and not a form of imprisonment. 

Couture Confessions Fashion Book
 Book Cover, Alexander McQueen and Cristobal Balenciaga
Couture Confessions
CoCo Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli and Christian Dior.