Tuesday, June 26, 2012

DOLLS: MADAME ALEXANDER, The First Lady of Dolls (c) By Polly Guerin

The great French chanteuse, Maurice Chevalier used to sing, “Thank goodness for little girls” and thank goodness it is for the dolls that little girls play with from the iconic Alexander Doll Company, Inc. The world famous Madame Alexander Doll has reinvented itself under new management by the firm, Kahn Lucas, a manufacturer of girl’s dresses and matching dresses for dolls. The acquisition is a perfect fit. Kahn Lucas recently purchased Alexander Doll Company from The Kaizen Breakthrough Partnership private equity firm managed b the Gefinor banking group and is not a newcomer to Alexander Doll. For the past four years Kahn Lucas has been a licensing partner with Alexander Doll under Kahn Lucas’ Dollie & Me brand of matching girl and doll apparel the fashion accessories. There are two setups at FAO Schwarz store in New York, the Madame Alexander Doll factory where girls can create their own dolls, and the Newborn Nursery, where girls learn about babies in nurseries as preparation for when they have siblings.
THE LATE BEATRICE ALEXANDER BEHRMAN While Madame Alexander was a doll maker of rare imagination, the series of dolls inspired by the pages of her beloved childhood storybooks live on for the young-at-heart everywhere. Alexander Doll Company, founded in 1923 is nearly 100 years old yet it continues the tradition of ‘hand-crafted quality workmanship, made in America’ dolls. Madame Alexander was a visionary, a woman determined to succeed. She started making dolls on her kitchen table in Brooklyn when she was 28 and firmly believed that dolls should engage a child’s imagination, educate and expand their vision of the world. Over the years dolls were inspired by fairy tales, movies and celebrities. The Secret Garden trunk and its wardrobe, the Little Princess, Little Women, Cinderella, the Anne of Green Gables series, the Scarlett O’Hara, Gone with the Wind series all attest to the legend of hand-crafted excellence. Madame Alexander was the day star who managed the company until 1986, continuing on as a design consultant until her death at 95 in 1990. Pictured above: Madame Beatrice Alexander examining the Queen Elizabeth II doll from the Coronation set.
MADAME ALEXANDER DOLL FIRSTS A master innovator, Madame Alexander’s original outpouring was prolific. In 1940 Jeannie Walker, one of the first walking dolls, made her debut as did the first dolls with life-like sleep eyes, that open and close. Production of the Sonja Henie (Olympic Skating star) doll also began at this time. High fashion was on her mind when in 1955 she introduced the first full-figured fashion doll called Cissy who wore designer fashions. Honors poured in and in the 1960s she was honored on United Nations Day for her international series of dolls. The same year the Smithsonian Institute selected two of Madame Alexander’s creations to include in its doll collection: the Madame doll from the American Revolution series and the Scarlett O’Hara doll. Film tie-ins include the 1970s production of large Sound of Music dolls with the release of the film. The First Lady of Dolls received FAO Schwartz’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1986. Always on top of the news, in 1990 the Welcome Home series of dolls commemorating those who served in Operation Desert Storm were put on the market.
THE KAHN LUCAS STORY This privately held, fourth-generation family firm, has an even longer history than Alexander Doll. Based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania it was founded in 1889. The firm manufactured fashion for sizes, newborn to 16, carried nationwide at stores including J.C. Penney, Sears, and Toys “R” and Wall-Mart. The acquisition of Alexander Doll places Kahn Lucas at the top of its genre competing to a degree with the American Girl, a division of Mattel. The manufacturing headquarters of Alexander Doll is located in the heart of Harlem, New York at 615 W. 131st St, New York, N.Y. with showrooms at 200 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y.
The Madame Alexander Fan Club was started in 1960s by Margaret Wilson. It was based in Texas and sponsored an annual convention. Of its 12,000 or more female members 40 percent are curiously male.

Friday, June 15, 2012


Pardon me, but did I say Queen Lizzie? I say that with the utmost of esteem for the grand lady of England, because she seems to be the kind of woman everyone can relate to and has come full circle as the Queen mum. It was in the 1953 Order of Coronation that England’s newly crowned ruler was referred to as Queen Elizabeth, Your Undoubted Queen,” but she emerged on the international scene as one of the most determine women in her lifelong performance as Queen. One can stand back in awe and admire her style and how she has fulfilled her role of service with honor and dignity. Those traits service, honor and dignity need to be brought strongly back into the collective consciousness of world leaders, corporate executives and parents today. We can thank Queen Lizzie for carrying the torch of correct behavior throughout her long life.
DRESSING WITH DIGNITY Valerie Steele, director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, relates, “Her style is a clear portrayal of upper-class distaste for novelty and gimmick, a resistance to foreign ideas, and a reassuring matronly solidity.” Her clothes are designed for specific functionality and remember the queen mainly works standing up for hours on end with nary a complaint. You rarely see her sitting down, she is usually photographed at full length, and as petite as she is, is required to stand out in a crowd. How does she do it?
A MEGAWATT SMILE Keeping up appearances is a challenge for the 86-year-old monarch with the white set curls and megawatt smile, but like a performer, she never disappoints. Even when her family behaved badly and public opinion for the monarchy hit a low, the Queen, was steadfast and dignified in the stewardship of her family and kingdom, and remained stable and determined dealing with circumstances with a calm hand. Charged with illuminating the dullest of ribbon-cutting the Queen has evolved with a flair for making an entrance in head-to-toe color or print-coordinated ensembles: shoes, gloves, matching hat and that classic handbag, that say, Queen” every inch of the design.
INSIDER DESIGN INFO So why doesn’t her skirt rise up at the flutter of a windy breeze? Clever solution: They’re anchored down and weighted, something any executive or woman in politics should consider doing for her next outdoor appearance. To accommodate that jubilant hand wave, the armholes of her coats and jackets are cut generously. Always conscious of what to wear on a specific occasion, for foreign travel, a staff of researchers will scout out the country’s national symbols and cultural significance and what color is verboten in that place. Good advice for anyone making personal appearances on the cultural or business stage of life.
HAIL to the QUEEN Flash-forward 60 years (2012) and the nation marked the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, making her the second-longest-serving monarch after Queen Victoria. At home in the private confines of her friends and family she loves to dress up with penchant sparkling jewels and enjoys horse racing, homeopathic remedies, keeps several corgis in tow and wears silk Hermes head scarves. She’s able bodied and a true thespian, playing out her role as “Elizabeth the Dignified,” but to us fashionistas she’s still our darling Queen Lizzie.
Throughout her six-decade reign, Queen Elizabeth weathered the likes of family tragedy, scandal and mishaps and much more behind the scenes than can be imagined, the likes of which are so similar to the misadventure of many average families. Yet the Queen has set the hallmark for Queenly behavior and motherhood, remaining as rock solid and as steadfast as Mount Everest throughout it all. Hail to the Queen, the woman determined to succeed, the truest royal that ever graced our century.