Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy 2013

What will unfold is not really as important as what we make of it. Happy 2013. Farewell 2012. Time to believe in new things. Time to think differently, engage in new good habits, new actions,  see the world and all its wonders. But the more wonderful thing is creating the wonders ourselves -- no matter how big or how little. Be it the smile on a child's face, a hug or a grand vacation in Europe. Doesn't matter. There will be dark times, there will be sad ones too.  Just never forget, whatever happens, life never ends. It only transforms.  To you who have followed this blog, thank you. Seriously. Because there really isn't much material. And I really don't want to make it feel like an obligation --  you lose out on the fun, you lose out on the spontaneity.  There are still little projects on the way, things I dream of making just for the sheer pleasure. Every project is a struggle in finding out how to make things, how to improvise and how to arrive at the desired results. Some get there. Some offer some learnings. I admit there are times when I don't know how far this will go. And if it does end,  may the little posts here somehow inspire you to create your own play,  ignite some idea, and make your little doll world as enjoyable as mine.  May you have your own "reverie". Happy New Year to all!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Marit Allen's Scarlett gown recreation by Tamara Gavrysh

Marit Allen's work came to my attention when she did the costumes for the miniseries Scarlett. If there is anything supremely wonderful about this re-creation and re-invention of Scarlett 'O Hara, it would be the costumes designed by Marit Allen. Entering the bustle era, one can see many wonderful sequences where Scarlett (as played by Joanne Whalley Kilmer) wore fabulous gowns and day dresses. I've seen the "making of Scarlett" and saw Miss Allen fitting dresses on the actress there. She seems like a nice, pleasant person to work with. I like that the gowns were more adhering to realistic interpretations.  Now Vivien Leigh and Joanne Whalley are almost the same height (Vivien Leigh = 5'3 and Whalley at 5'4 ). But it seems that Whalley looked smaller on screen -- and then I realized that height doesn't necessarily translate to similarity of human form. Vivien Leigh had a longer neck and thus, lower shoulders.  This may be the reason why I see her as a longer person vs. Whalley. The point of this observation is how both carried their gowns. Leigh's long neck and was less heavy on the bosom which made her lighter and longer. Whalley was on the voluptuous side (methinks) and therefore looked a little plump with the dresses. But movement wise -- Leigh was swan-like the way she carried her costumes with hands that would fly in the air, turning her body to create sways and movement with the dress -- as if the dress movement itself was part of the emotion she wanted to project. Well, that's just a my observation on the differences. I am not one to bring down the reinterpretation of Scarlett. I am actually delighted with the way the dialogues have been written -- that doesn't mean I like the storyline. That's another story though. We go back to this dress. 

Here is one Marit Allen gown re-created by Tamara Gavrysh for me. It is the gown worn by Scarlett to a Charleston Ball and after which the one she wears when she almost drowns. Poor Joanne Whalley almost did! Watch the youtube link to the making and you'll find out how.  I will show you more detailed photos of this OOAK gown later on. I think the detail of Tamara's gown shows a great approximation of the Marit Allen gown. 
Here is a link where you can find some of Marit Allen's creations:

And here is Tamara Gavrysh's re-creation of Marit Allen's gown.  What I like about her recreation again is the attention to detail: the choice of lace, the color of the flowers and the draping of the gown. She also made gloves and a wonderful purse (is that what you call it) and a collar which I yet have fix a bit. 

And a little more about Marit Allen who I feel deserves more recognition than what she got. She passed away in 2007 at the age of 66 because of brain aneurism. She was a beautiful and talented lady, and with this gown I do salute you! 

Marit Allen

Costume Designer
Marit Allen has been the costume designer on two previous films directed by Ang Lee, The Hulkand Ride with the Devil.
She was a Costume Designers Guild Award nominee for her work on Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut; an Emmy Award nominee for her costume design on John Erman's miniseriesScarlett; a CableACE Award nominee for designing the costumes on Ivan Passer's telefilmStalin; and a BAFTA Award nominee for Michael Radford's White Mischief.
Early in her career, Ms. Allen collaborated with director Nicolas Roeg, on Don't Look Now andBad Timing: A Sensual Obsession, and would later reteam with him on Eureka and The Witches.
Among the many other films she has been the costume designer on are Stephen Frears' The Hit; Frank Oz' Little Shop of Horrors and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels; Dusan Makavejev's Manifesto' Wayne Wang's Eat a Bowl of Tea; Richard Benjamin's Mermaids; Carroll Ballard's Wind; Agnieszka Holland's The Secret Garden; Chris Columbus' Academy Award-winning Mrs. Doubtfire; Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man; Kathryn Bigelow's The Weight of Water and K-19: The Widowmaker; Jonathan Frakes' Thunderbirds; and, most recently, Steven Zaillian's All the King‘s Men. (Photo of Miss Allen from; Article from

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Re-creating the Keira Knightley Anna Karenina gown

Gown/hat by Tamara Gavrysh. (Not in the picture: a parasol that Tamara designed to go with this outfit and blue earrings.)
More pictures coming soon.

Friday, November 2, 2012

"Raising a ruckus tonight: Tonner Bette Davis as "Jezebel"

"I'm askin' for the chance to prove I can be brave and strong and unselfish. Help me, Amy. 
Help me make myself clean again as you are clean. Let me prove myself worthy of the love I bear him. " 
-- Julie Marsden
 It is hard to imagine any other actress playing Scarlett. But in the years of GWTW was moving from page to screen, people had one person in mind to play Margaret Mitchell's most coveted character. 

Bette Davis knew she could give justice to the role too. But negotiations with Warner and Selznick did not settle well (we all know better). Selznick was being offered by Warner: Miss Davis and Errol Flyn to play Rhett Butler. -- a casting for Rhett, even Miss Davis opposed.   
 Miss Davis was also fresh from her role as the Southern Belle in the film "Jezebel".  "Jezebel" is a Biblical character, a woman of manipulation and schemes who falls. In the film, Bette plays Julie Marsden -- who like Scarlett -- was probably advanced in her sensibilities and opinion of things.  She was also outright rebellious against the customs and traditions of the South, which in the film seemed to be carved in stone in the pride and honor of  New Orleans. The film's setting is 1852 and it is also the period where the outbreak of "yellow fever" occurs, forcing people to be transported to an island to be isolated/quarantined. Here too is the transformation of Julie Marsden -- as she fights for her lost love and redeems her shame -- to be with the one she loves even if it means facing death herself. 
image from
For her performance as Jezebel, Bette Davis wins herself her second Oscar (1938) . Two years later,  another Southern Belle role will give an actress first Academy award  -- and consequently worldwide fame. 

Bette Davis wins her Oscar for Jezebel; and can you take a look at those feathers on that dress!!
(image from
The doll here is a Tonner Bette and she wears that voluminous white gown that Julie Marsden discards. She wears a  low-cut red gown instead (should have had that made too -- darn!). Rebelling against custom and tradition is her downfall -- she loses her beau.
Gosh I didn't know there was such strict adherence to tradition.  (images below from

That elusive white dress designed by Orry-Kelly -- there  seems to be  no illustration or sketch of this dress 
Julie Marsden: Well, shall we go, Pres? 
Preston Dillard: Not 'til you're properly dressed. 
Julie Marsden: You're sure it's the dress? It couldn't be that you're afraid, afraid somebody'd insult me 
and you'd find it necessary to defend me. 

Watch some scenes by clicking on the link here. 

The dress is by Tamara Gavrysh, a very talented doll seamstress who is able to discern the pattern of gowns -- by instinct! 
Tamara or Radiola is from Ukraine and she displays great passion in making gowns for dolls. She also does the jewelry and hats for dolls (I will show you some in the coming posts). You will see some of her works in ebay -- replicating the Tonner Scarlett dresses -- 
I couldn't tell the difference between what Tonner made and what Tamara creates. She's that' good. But she is humble too and admits she has much to learn. What I find charming in her creation are the little details. 
There is no existing illustration or sketch of this white dress done by Orry-Kelly -- who dressed Miss Bette Davis in most of her films. 
And since there is none, it becomes more challenging as the detail of the layer tulle is hardly discernible. Orry Kelly, the costume designer for Jezebel,  created a vision of white that was light and cloudy with little edgings that fall on the skirt like soft feathers.  

Tamara was able to discern the layered tulle as soft as a "veil" -- almost like one piece of tulle attached with thinner panels edged with a loop design.  If you think she just attached the panels you would be surprised because each panel is attached at intervals -- like little "pinched" attachments.  Thus, the entire skirt is as fragile as that gown probably was in the film. Tamara did the head dress and the jewelry here (necklace and bracelet) and managed to create the look as close as possible to the film. Take a look at the little cameo necklace -- that one is attached by magnets from behind. A very delightful way to make attachments. 

The hairstyle is done by Monica Khonke -- She's very nice and studies her work very well.  She even did little curls on the sides of the doll's head.  This doll was made possible too thru the help of Miss Arlene Tellez (Thanks Arlene).

Photographed against red velvet to contrast the symbol purity with her inner will and passion. 

By the way: Raising a ruckus tonight is a song Jezebel sings in the film. 

"Come along little children come along 
While the moon is shining bright 
Now get on board going down the river float 
We gonna raise a ruckus tonight "

"We have such charming customs down here". 
That's why I wore my white dress tonight. I'm being baptized" -- Julie Marsden

"This is 1852 dumplin', 1852, not the Dark Ages. Girls don't have to simper around 
in white just because they're not married." -- Julie Marsden

 "Oh I'm sorry! I forgot, I'm a child. I'm not supposed to know about things like Gallatan street! 
I'm just supposed to flutter around in white! "

"Pres, I can't believe it's you here. I dreamed about it so long. A lifetime. 
No, longer than that. I put on this white dress for you to help me tell ya how humbly I ask you to forgive me. "

Julie: For heaven's sakes, don't be gentle with me now. Do you think I wanna be wept over? 
I've gotta think, to plan, to fight. 

Aunt Belle: But you can't fight marriage. 

Julie: Marriage, is it. To that washed-out little Yankee. Pres is mine. 
He's always been mine. And if I can't have him... 

*Jezebel movie quotes are all from

Monday, October 1, 2012

Tonner My Tara

This is one of GWTW costumes I long wished someone would do. Finally Tonner did it. This isn't the doll that comes with the dress. It's the Scarlett Blue Portrait doll. I have one OOAK dress of the same style done by Beth Wilder. Both are beautiful actually.  Here' s a portait of Tonner's My Tara.

Friday, September 21, 2012

No Lovebirds: Reinventing the Lovebird gown

 My friend seamstress and I collaborated in making this gown. A multi-layered tulle gown with a satin base and embellished with beautiful flat swarovski crystals.  We decided to take away the doves  because I felt it was somehow strange to be wearing a gown with stuffed animals.  Feathers probably but not doves.  The sleeves are called "gauntlets" thanks to the seasoned knowledge of my seamstress friend. They are not attached to the main gown and each one just goes into the arms of the doll. Earrings are from Tonner's Heartbroken doll. This doll is very special to me because it was the first Tonner Scarlett I ever had. It suffers a little green spot on its cheek and still I feel this hasn't at all kept it from being special to me.
The hair has been styled short and re-tied at the back to give it the Scarlett lift on both sides of the head. You know what's missing? Nice blue jewelry.  But Scarlett seems to be enjoying the dress well.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Farewell Mr. Butler

A last look at my Tonner Clark Gable as Rhett Butler before he gets packed to his new home. There's something always sad about parting with something one worked hard on, but that's life. Besides, Rhett goes to a good owner who will most definitely take care of him well with her Scarletts. I fixed his shoulders here to make him more beefy. I think he should have had the Tonner athletic mold. Margaret Mitchell was very clear that Rhett was some big man too. Mr. Big to Carrie Bradshaw.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Lady of the Manor: Tonner Scarlett wears Tonner's Bubbling with Charm"

Thank you Arlene Tellez for securing this lovely outfit that  is actually made for Tonner Bette Davis. 
I repainted the arched brow here to give it more of a lift. I also defined the lips a little more. She's a Basic Scarlett which was repainted to have that Vivien look. I like it that she has more flexibility to change clothes. 
That for me is a key reason for buying a doll -- the immense possibilities of play. 
The pearls come from a Franklin Mint doll.  
Looks like I have to look more at Tonner's Hollywood Glamour line.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Repainted Franklin Mint Scarlett

I posted a photo of this doll a long time ago. She went to a friend who was glad enough to send me a photo of it. I think she looks good in that red robe dress made by Franklin Mint. I repainted the hairline here to lessen that "wigged" look. Thanks Beth for this. I had to post it as you took a good photo of her.  No photoshop here.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Thank you Tonner!!!

This was my most delightful surprise this week. Tonner,  you may be miles away, but you always manage to bring me closer to you all the time. Congratulations to you too Tamara Radiola Gavrysh! The gown did it! You are amazing!!
Thank you Tonner!  Never have I experienced a closer doll-customer relationship as I have with you.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

More to come!

This is the latest creation by Tamara Gavrysh of Ukraine: gown, jewelry and amazing embroidery
Tonner Carol Barrie doll wearing "A Sensible Notion" wig.
I placed the headline (More to Come) because this gown is actually designed for a particular doll.
I just couldn't help letting you see how it looks -- partially. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Ukraine Woman's Instinct and Creativity: Recreating a MET Theatre de la Mode Lanvin Dress

 What you are about to see is not the full dress yet but merely the hat. I have  The talent. Rodiola or Tamara from Ukraine. A self-learned doll seamstress with a great eye for material, color and craft. We corresponded and agreed to re-create a Met Museum online photo of a Lanvin Dress {"Marie-Blanche di Pietro, French, 1897-1888). Doll (for gratitude train) 1949, for Lanvin (French, founded 1889; Metal, plaster, silk, feathers. The Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art).  I was amazed at Rodiola's choice of material -- black gown here is not the one yet, and her craft which extends from the making of dresses, jewelry and hats down to shoes. She's a one woman doll shop in the making. Watch out for Rodiola aka as Tamara. She's going to rock the doll world soon!


Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Saturday Portrait

Hat from Tonner's "Trip to Saratoga"; dress from Franklin Mint's Raintree County.

Because one of my greatest wishes is for some doll company to consider making clothing from different historical periods. And there are actually a lot. So many themes, so many stories  -- from history, from literature, from fashion, from royalty.  There seems to be little regard for these things now with Marketing more important and -- understandably more important in making money. Just a thought this Saturday, loving old historical or period pieces can be such a lonely endeavor.

This doll has made many appearances in this blog. She's a practice doll from Tonner's Mother's Portieres, her hair uncurled and face underwent some revisions. This is the last of those.  I wanted her makeup to be lighter and her lips not too red. Her hair is held well by a snood.  I noticed that Vivien Leigh's eyes are naturally slanted allowing lashes to give them a lift. The Tonner Scarlett doll however has a more almond shaped eye sculpt -- the right eye (where the arched eyebrow rises) has a shape un-symmetrical with the left one -- in that the lower part of the eye is lower. To create the symmetry one has to draw more shadows. 

I needn't explain much about the dress as you've seen it many times.  I hope you like the portraits.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Mrs. Butler: Don't Look Back (reprise)

And guess who passed by during the shoot? (I still have to figure out how to fix his lips though)