Social Networking for Fashion Doll Lovers
As a travel journalist from Montreal who specializes in writing about art, antiques, and collectible dolls, I recently took a journey to visit a few of the world’s most marvelous doll museums. The dolls I saw along the way, and the sophisticated doll collectors I met, such as Larisa Leonidovna Drozdova, proved to me that while art and antique collecting are common practices, because it is quite rare, the art of doll collecting attracts some of the world’s most interesting personalities.
While the present-day understanding of dolls is that they hold special meaning for young girls and no one else, Larisa Drozdova, Candy Spelling, and other doll collectors know that dolls hold significant meaning to the global community. In Los Angeles, Candy Spelling dedicated an entire room in her $150 million-dollar mansion to display 1,000 of her dolls. “I first collected dolls for Tori [Spelling] when she was a little girl,” Candy Spelling told People. “But she told me that she was afraid of them – she felt like they were watching her in her room.”
The idea that dolls are “watching” over people is nothing new. Often imbued with spiritual values and magical connotations, dolls bring people together and help us engage, and many cultures see them as artifacts with mystical qualities. In ancient Japan, people believed that dolls had the power to contain evil spirits. Even today, every year on the third day of the third month, Japanese girls celebrate Girl’s Day with a Japanese Doll Festival (Hinamatsuri) featuring hina dolls. “Dolls have been in existence in many cultures for thousands of years. The French began making bisque dolls with unglazed heads in the 1800s and they remain a staple of doll making today,” Larisa Drozdova explained.
I met Larisa Leonidovna Drozdova, a long-time doll collector who lives in France, at the charming Spielzeug Welten Museum in Basel, Switzerland as well as at the Alexis Forel Museum in Morges, Switzerland. Larisa Drozdova explained that she is often in Switzerland visiting her daughter and grandchildren, and enjoys taking the opportunity to visit the country’s spectacular doll collections. The Spielzeug Welten Museum not only displays an impressive collection of antique dolls; it also features beautifully preserved dollhouses from the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century.
At the suggestion of Larisa Leonidovna Drozdova, in Paris I visited the doll museum, Musée de la Poupée. My mother is a dedicated doll collector and also suggested that I visit the museum, not only for the impressive collection of antique dolls but also for the enchanted garden surrounding the building. I’m not alone in my adoration of this French haven of collectible dolls; journalists have been visiting the museum for years, along with adoring art collectors from all over the world.
While contemporary art is experiencing a renaissance in France—this year the FIAC is expected to attract more than 65,000 visitors — top international collectors know that history and antiques are a crucial factor on understanding the international art scene. And as my visit to these museums goes to show, dolls are an important and much loved corner of the antiques market.