The magnificent history of the royal dolls France and Marianne

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Collectors of dolls and toys know existence, in Great Britain, small house built in Wales, between two wars, in the park of Windsor's castle. Built in the 2/5 size of a " Welsh cottage ", it was proportionned in the small size which was then that of the small princesses Elizabeth and Margaret-Rose. All their dolls and the furniture whichwere offered to them in various circumstances were accommodated in it on the advices of their big mother the Queen Mary. This charming small house contained among others marvels ( It is not any more case today ) two dolls, France and Marianne, and their outfits.

In here is history:

The King and the Queen had come in official visit in France in 1937. Their two small princesses, too young, stayed in Great Britain. To console them with their absence, a French daily of time" Le Journal " organized in their intention a gigantic signature with the small French girls to offer them a very beautiful present.

Envisaged beautiful, this present will turn out luxurious. Indeed, this initiative will fast be transformed there " a vast advertising operation for the dressmakers, the furriers, jewelers, milliners, manufacturers of shoes, lingerie, accessories, etc.., enchanted, rightly to speak about them " (  Archives de la Mode, Publisher Michèle TRINCKVEL ). The already collected capital - more than a million francs of time! -was given to " L'Oeuvre d'entraide des Femmes de Francee " whereas hundred workers of Big Houses put themselves in the work to dress two named dolls "France" and "Marianne" as soon as they were ready, the head, the hands and the feet having been made on scale models. They were accompanied with a gigantic wardrobe and with a multitude of objects on which will return us.

Let us begin with two dolls:

Been born in a big factory of dolls, the S.F.B.J. Marianne and France - François Theimer, Polochinelle 1993, page 131 - measures 90 cms. On the nape of theirs necks is engraved the number of mould 306, the abbreviation UNISFRANCE and the date 1938. ( Note that Olivia BRISTOL, in the book" Dolls ", Publisher Gründ, 1997, page 90, indicates that they measured both 79 cms and that the commercial copy had a height of 51 cms. - Besides, Ladies Coleman, in the Volume 2 of The Collector Encyclopedia of Dolls, wrote, page 1093, that heads in biscuit of the offered dolls were marked " JUMEAU// PARIS // PRINCESS ", and page 595, that commercial models had a height of 18 and 32 in. or 45,50 and 81 cms).

" They have a welle marked girth, fine legs, but of wide shoulders; they look like the modern girls who practise sports.

" They have hands mobile as hands living beings. And skillful manicurists polished their pink nails. Mobiles also are their eyes and their eyelids decorated with true lashes elegantly curved. " Marianne is fair with big dreamy blue eyes; France is brown and she has beautiful sparkling dark eyes of mockery. " (Week of Suzette, n ° 38 of August 18, 1938, page 188.

According to " Le Monde Illustré-Miroir du Monde " of 1938, France would be fair in dark eyes and Marianne, black-haired with the blue eyes..... A detail supplied by Madeleine CHAPSAL, goddaughter of Madeleine VIONNET, every doll was endowed with a mechanic heart which beat and represented that of France. (Already EFFANBEE proposed in 1928, " Heartbeat Baby " the heart which emitted a jingle. Cf. " Dolls " of Olivia BRISTOL, op.cit. page 39 ). Note that the S.F.B.J. produced for the holidays of the end of year of dolls according to the same mould, but reduced with half ( 45 cms ), accompanied with some details of outfit. You can see an exemplary of each of them in the Museum of the Doll of PARIS.

Partial sight of the shown outfit. This document, in spite of the inferior quality, shows the extraordinary variety of this one.

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But the interest of this event is not so much in the creation of these dolls. These although very well-kept and of perfect finish, have no particular charm. It is their magnificent outfit which fascinates. Absolutely fabulous by its importance and its variety:   " These fabulously rich beauties received all that royal dolls could wish. Each possesses 30 dresses, 20 hats, several coats of fur, 24 pairs of shoes, 12 pairs of gloves, 12 negligees, an uncountable wardrobe, several necessities of dress, a crowd of bags, suitcases, coverages and the other travel goods....

" So, hundreds and hundred Parisian workers, needlewomen or milliners, artisans of all the professions collaborated to the outfit of France and Marianne. The most famous manufacturers of luxury objects gave what there is of more beautiful in their workshops. ": Maggy ROUFF, Madeleine VIONNET, Lucile PARAY, for dresses. - Lucien LELONG and PAQUIN for the fourrure.-HERMÈS and HELLSTERN for chaussures.-VUITTON for the luggage. - Caroline REBOUX (Caroline REBOUX had died in 1928, but the House had been resumed by Lucienne RABATÉ, ex-milliner of Chanel) and Rose DESCAT for hats and even ...... CITROËN who drove specially small two "traction-avant" convertibles, model of the year, registered " M 1938 " for Marianne and " F 1938 " for France.....

This magnificent outfit, where the blue and the pink dominated, was showed- before the departure for Great Britain - to the Theater Marigny-Champs-Elysées in front of which stretched endless lines.

Happy time of the French Craft which, in this particular case, gave some work to hundred workers any merged corporations. Each worked by taking into account various hours of day: pupil's dresses, but so luxurious evening dresses, schoolbags but also evening bags, sporting suits, - of all the sports and the nightclothes, in brief everything is there, including jewels decorated with true stones and with true pearls; even gloves locked into cases of chamois leather, every pair harmonizing with a dress. Absolutely complete toilet for every event of the life: in the evening, the Court, the journeys, the sports, the school, the luxury daily. Without forgetting objects variously: ranges, necessary for hair, parasols and umbrellas, blotting papers, pens, flavors of Paris contained in " flasks of crystal cut with cork of vermeil "

Recently Olivia BRISTOL of Christie's House told to me to have been called by the services of the Museum of Windsor to proceed to a new overview of the set and said me her delight in front of the quantity, the quality, the beauty of this outfit of work of art of the French craft in immediate pre-war years, at least as far as the wardrobe and as the environment.

It should be thought moreover that the young princesses had no leisure to play the doll with Marianne and France, so much because of the obligations which already had to be theirs (To see Week of Suzette in February 18, 1937, page 193) that of the beauty and the value by too extraordinary of this set . The whole must be very quickly put under shop windows closed shielded from childish manipulations and in safety in many respects. What allows, at present even, to see the whole to Windsor, real Museum of the fashion, the sewing and the French finery.

So with Hélène de SAINT ROMAN of the " Semaine de Suzette " let us shall end that " it is funnier to dress itself his Bleuette of which the outfit, although perfectly elegant, is all the same less fragile ...... and less precious! ". WE can not however refrain from dreaming!

We are happy to take advantage you of some photos, for certain new in our knowledge, made when Madam Georges BONNET, wife of foreign secretary, accompanied " with three good small French pupils " got ready to leave for London to carry to the young princesses the magnificent present that had packed the House Pierre WELTER ( Rue Bleu a PARIS) and that transported the House DELOCHE and Cie.

 

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For more details to refer weekly of Suzette, page 188, 2-nd Half a year of 1938, to Polichinelle 1993, page 131, to a series of articles appeared on June 17 , 18 and 20, 1938 in " Le Journal "( culomn" Le courrier des Poupees

"), The" Le Monde Illustré-Miroir du Monde 1938 and to the Archives de la Mode, by Jacques Borgé and Nicolas Viasnoff, (Publisher Michèle TRINCKVEL on 1995). To read also of Madeleine CHAPSAL "La Chair de la Robe" ( The flesh of the Dress ), (Publisher Fayard on 1989), which redraws all the history of the magnificent House Madeleine VIONNET.

We extract moreover from this work the beginning of the chapter " Those that make dresses ":

" Do you remember dolls offered by France to the two small princesses Elizabeth and Margaret-Rose of England, I believe that it was in 1937 ( 1 ), for World Fair? Me demand suddenly Denise Maillet. (One of Vionnet's " first ") " - if I remember ! It is the house Vionnet which made their wardrobe . It was so beautiful, so extraordinary as Godmother Vionnet wanted that we have the same, my soeur and I. We had about the same age as the princesses, and she offered us two high dolls accompanied with the exact retort of the outfit intended for Elizabeth and Margaret. There was an evening dress in pink muslin ......" Well, it is I who made it!

" I look at her , without finding my words. I was a little more than ten years old and I remember perfectly these two big dolls throning in the middle of their provoking " princesses' " wardrobe, when one asked us to bring , the admiring bewilderment of our guests. "

Accustomed to the miracles of the mervelous shop " Le Nain Bleu " ( famous parisian toys shop ) where our Godmother Vionnet purchased her gifts - singing nightingale, electric train, big wooden house with doors and windows where we could penetrate, I had been amazed with these dolls. In particular, by their evening dresses - we, the children, did not possess it very sure- cut obliquely, worn under two velvet capes of blue silk ...

" Dresses were not they consisted of inlaid petals of organza? I say to Denise.

" Yes, and it is Hermès who had made shoes, hats were of Caroline Reboux. The dolls of the small princesses had a mechanical heart which beat to represent the heart of France..... "

We are anxious to thank all friends who, by their learning and their documentation allowed us to try to regroup all that we know about what was at the time a really sensational event. Particularly thank you to Mrs HOUY, to Albert BAZIN..... This small work wants simply a synthesis of various appeared articles when this happenings made loud noise ...... one year only before second world war.

Hélène BUGAT-PUJOL

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Supplementary precision and Illustration

Brought by Mr. Doctor and Mrs J. POROT, researchers in dolls.

" In 1978 we for a long time consulted, about the eyes of dolls, Mister Peigné, a " ocularist ", a skillful medical practitioner who realized human prostheses. He told us to have been sought with the SFBJ for these famed dolls. On account of their big dimensions, these eyes should be made as human prostheses with some enamel and the crystal, a very expensive work was exceptional. It is to say the effort that the SFBJ had done."

 

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Tous droits de reproduction (texte et photos) même partielle, rigoureusement réservés ©Dépôt Légal B.N.F. 1998 Cote 4-D4 PER-88

 

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