Little Ambassadors: Fashion Dolls and the Dissemination of Fashion in England

Hello everyone,

My name is Lauren Greene and I’m a rising senior at the College, majoring in History and minoring in Russian and Post-Soviet Studies. This summer I will start working on my honors thesis, and I’d like to thank the Charles Center and Richard Kraemer for their support.  I’ve never conducted research like this before so I’m not exactly sure what to expect, but I am definitely looking forward to it!

In about two weeks (yes, the countdown has begun) I’ll fly to England to start my summer research on fashion dolls.  To clarify, when I say fashion doll, I am not referring to Barbies or the Bratz dolls.  I’m interested in the old, wooden dolls that are frequently used in nightmare scenes in movies and television shows.  Before the use of fashion plates and magazines, Parisian fashion houses used fashion dolls to convey the latest fashion trends in Europe. Fashion dolls were often made of jointed wood or plaster and were dressed in miniature replicas of the current fashions.  The fashionable elite would then copy the doll’s clothes until the next year’s dolls arrived.

I plan to focus my research on the history of the fashion doll in seventeenth and eighteenth century England and how the dolls were used to advertise and convey the latest fashions.  I hope to discover where the dolls came from and to what types of families, shops, and cities they went, thereby revealing the network through which fashion was circulated.  I also hope to explore the forces that caused fashion dolls to go out of use.

I am particularly excited about this topic because, as far as I can tell, there has not been any research on fashion dolls alone and how they were used to convey fashion trends in the western world.  By the end of my senior year, I hope to compile a history of the fashion doll in England.  Because there hasn’t been much research on this topic, though, I am aware that some complications may arise.  But the challenge is half the fun, right?

Until next time,
Lauren

Comments

  1. I love dolls! I love playing with my Barbie when I was little and now I love dolls because they are a miniature models. Lovely.