Last week I set out to see three exhibitions in one day, with the intent to share my thought on all of them over the next few weeks. However, my visit to Hartnell to Amies at the Fashion and Textile Museum was upstaged by a small display next to the entrance featuring an array of Sindy Dolls.
Sindy was a British fashion doll, and intended rival to Barbie, created in 1963. Her friends, outfits and accessories captured the essences of British youth fashion of the 1960s as you can see in my photographs.
This small display seemed to me like a miniature fashion history and social history all in one!
I’ve written about fashion dolls and toys before , although it’s not a regular research area for me. However, as miniature and functional fashion mannequins, upon which children learn and enact ideas and rituals of dressing, dolls can not be overlooked as rich material artefacts for dress historians.
On this visit, my affinity and interest swayed towards the Sindy dolls not only because they are brightly colored and undeniably adorable, but because compared to the glittering gowns of the clients of Hartnell and Amies, the dolls and their Young British fashion style seemed to speak more powerfully about British fashion, culture and design.
Next week, I’ll take a closer look at Hartnell to Amies, and share a peek into the histories and ouevres of the two of the 20th century’s best known Royal Dressmakers, and their contemporaries in British Couture.
To see more fashion dolls visit the online collections of The Museum of London, The Victoria and Albert Museum (and Museum of Childhood) and the lesser known Dunster Doll Museum in Somerset, England.