OK...so it hasn't exactly been a long time since my last (and first) post, but I promised to try and update regularly....and besides, I have a long overdue wrap up and MANY thanks to give for the Nashville convention...where has the time gone???
Summer 2010 was certainly filled with memorable moments! Fashion! Fun! Friends! Dolls and travel! I can't imagine a better way to enjoy this hobby we all love! What a wonderful time it was!
With the last days of summer comes the close of yet another project especially dear to my heart...Nashville's Golden Age of "Doll" Couture.
I want to thank everyone who helped make the event an overwhelming success! I'm thrilled to officially pronounce it a sell out!
I'm especially proud of this fact because the Nashville event marked the debut of the Sandra Stillwell Presents label. I'm truly humbled with the feedback I've received.
A lot of love and a little bit of my heart went into every piece of both the convention and companion gift sets. I'm delighted to know that you are enjoying them as much I as enjoyed designing them for you. I hope the separates bring out the "play" in your imagination as they did mine. I can't wait to see everyone's pictures!
In the weeks since convention I've had several inquiries about the origin of fabric in the gift sets and centerpieces as well as questions about the thought process behind the details of the convention. You've also asked my feelings, in hindsight, about the "firsts" in The Golden Age of "Doll" Couture and what you can look forward to from Sandra Stillwell Presents.
So, for those who asked...read on, and I'll attempt to give you a brief glimpse into the back story behind The Golden Age of "Doll" Couture...
The Nashville convention was a dream come true for me...something I have wanted to do for a very long time. Though possibly not the best timing, it became "now or never" upon discovering the Frist Center in Nashville was scheduled to host the landmark Golden Age of Couture -- Paris to London, 1947-1957, exhibition from London's V&A Museum for a short three months!
From inception to finale, I had an amazing support system of friends who helped weave my ideas into the beautiful "fabric" that became the end design.
From the beginning, I knew I wanted The Golden Age of "Doll" Couture to be different from any convention that had come before. Instead of a big gala, I wanted this event to be an intimate retreat with friends where we could not only celebrate the dolls we love and the beautiful fashions that inspire them, but also "play" and get to know each other better. My goal was for everyone...including my dedicated volunteers... to be able to experience things together.
As important as the "couture" theme was, our destination of Nashville was equally important. Nashville is one of my favorite cities. Somehow it reminds me of a strong and gracious lady who warmly welcomes guests to her beautiful home...a host with impeccable style who, on one hand oozes Southern charm while on the other is not afraid to "kick up her heels" and have a good time. The artistry of Manuel, the history in the Country Music Hall of Fame, the heritage of the Ryman Auditorium, the magnificence of Cheekwood, the gracefulness of the Historic Hardaway House, and the awe-inspiring fashions exhibited at the majestic Frist...I wanted my guests to experience all she had to offer.
Above all, it was important that The Golden Age Of "Doll" Couture be done with the elegance and style guests have come to expect from a "Sandra Stillwell Presents" affair...and that there be wonderful treasures to take home as cherished remembrances of this fabulous weekend.
Yes....The Golden Age Of "Doll" Couture presented many unique challenges. The biggest of which was to keep it affordable, as typically an event with small numbers is more expensive to organize than one with strong "buying" power. Also, our small numbers meant that it would be impossible to include a major doll manufacturer.
I had been toying with the idea of trying a new concept that focused solely on "fashion" with outfits as gifts instead of the customary souvenir doll. With positive feedback from collectors and the couture fashion theme of convention, this seemed to be the golden opportunity.
I had the PERFECT fabric for the Golden Age Of Couture theme...a beautiful rose tweed with soft metallic gold accents, purchased in New York City. My dear friend, Sherlyn Lovell, had worked with me developing patterns and prototypes for a gift set based on this fabric. Adding to the "perfection" was the fact that the day wear portion of the gift set was inspired by a 1940's suit designed by Norman Hartnell, British designer to the Queen. There was just enough fabric for the required fifty gift sets!. It seemed "meant to be".
But the factory required a larger order. What to do???
On a recent trip to New York I had purchased a beautiful blue wool and coordinating hound's-tooth. In "playing" with it, I discovered this combination would be perfect in the same design we had planned for the rose tweed..I simply couldn't choose which I liked best! And with that, I had my solution...this would be the companion "London Holiday" gift set!"
The Golden Age of "Doll" Couture" was based not only on exquisite fashions by the most prestigious European designers, but also the couture fashion shows where they were showcased -- with day wear being presented first, followed by cocktail frocks then evening wear, with the grand finale of opulent wedding gowns. We needed centerpiece dolls that would invoke the finest of European couture to "walk the runway"!
Everything gelled when, on a trip to Paris, I discovered a lovely Parisian designer cotton sateen print and the most breathtaking, delicate French embroidered lace...both worthy of the finest "doll couture". It was love at first sight!
As chance would have it, shortly after returning home I had a "play date" with former Gene team designer and friend, George Sarofeen, and couldn't resist showing off my fabric! To my disappointment, George told me the scale of the print was just too large...it would never work on Gene! But, knowing a losing battle when he saw one, he agreed to do a sketch of the design I had in mind. Talk about a picture being worth a thousand words! Perfection! Next came the sketch of the wedding gown. We were both wowed!
Ultimately, teamwork is the thread that stitches the success (or failure) of a convention together...and I am blessed with the most dedicated convention team an event producer could have the privilege to work with.
Please indulge me a moment while I give credit to my incredible team:
To Michael Basala: Quite simply...you are a dream come true and a joy to work with. Thank you for being by my side each step of the way with friendship, support, assistance, advice, understanding, and enthusiasm...all with a sense of humor. You are my "right hand" who always instinctively understands the "left hand".
To Sherlyn Lovell, Sherry Wisdom, Barb Koffman, Penny Sands,
Linda Farnsworth (and Michael, too!): I could not ask for a better, more loyal or dedicated group of friends! Your unwavering support enables me to do what I love most...and makes me look good doing it! Thank you for always being "up" for whatever I throw your way! I am truly blessed to have you all in my life.
To Cathy Roach and Gary Reeves: To two of the most creative, generous people I've ever known. I appreciate your willingness to help and your "can do" attitude more than I can express. Thank you for always being there for me.
To Jeff Lega and Robert McGarity: Two of the most gracious gentlemen I've ever had the privilege to work with! It was a delight to have you both on our "team" the past couple of years! Thanks, guys, for always being willing to lend a hand!
Special thanks to Jeff Lega and Terri Gold, whose stunning photographs will bring the convention to life for those who could not be with us and enable the cherished memories of those who did attend to live on vividly forever. Your photo shoot elevated the spirit of the convention to a completely new level! Thanks to both of you for pitching in to help throughout the weekend!
Much appreciation to both Terri and Kathryn Darden for their publicity and online write ups about the convention. Ladies...thanks for helping to spread the word about the festivities!
I would also like to express thanks to Fashion Doll Quarterly for their continued support! Look for convention coverage from Terri Gold in an upcoming issue!
To Patsy Fryberger: Thank you for the wonderful dress and jacket ensemble! Your hard work and dedication to getting them done and delivered was much appreciated! Your artistry dressed our dolls in "Nasville Style"!
To Sherlyn Lovell: Your MANUEL tee shirts were adorable! Thanks so much!
To George Sarofeen: You are a talented, dear friend who is in a class all your own! Thanks for always being willing to give a critique and opinion. Your loving advice and invaluable help are much appreciated. Some of my favorite moments throughout the years have been our design brainstorming sessions. You are truly an inspiration!
To Barb Koffman, Scotty Wisdom, Black Gold Embroidery and Bella! Productions...
Thanks, guys, for the fabulous centerpiece props! Your contributions added WOW factor and "set the scene" to showcase the centerpiece dolls beautifully!
To George Gonzalez with JAMIEShow from Angelic Dreamz: Thank you for going out of your way to produce our stunningly beautiful Sun Doll! I am very honored to have your "first" special edition! Your sponsorship and support was much appreciated!
To Cheryl Crawford: I am awed by your talent! It was a privilege to watch your lovely ladies develop from concept to reality, and my honor to host your first event. I look forward to seeing your doll line grow and wish you much success. Thank you for letting me be a small part of it all.
To Joan Greene: You are a wealth of knowledge with a unique sense of humor and rare way with words. I'll never tire of hearing your many stories! Thank you for showing me Nashville as a native and introducing me to all she has to offer! You've opened doors to new experiences I could only dream of! Your friendship and gracious hospitality has been much appreciated.
To Brian Bulkley: One of the dearest, most talented guys I know! Your classic movie and fashion history knowledge is amazing! Thank you for generously sharing your talent and always being there to toss ideas back and forth with! We've missed you!
Many thanks to Tonner Doll Company, Gigi's Dolls, and IntegrityToys for their generous door prize donations.
Finally, my deepest thanks to everyone who went out of their way to join us for "The Golden Age of "Doll" Couture", and to the collectors who purchased absentee packages. You make all this possible.
So, you may ask...would I do it all over again? In a heartbeat! In fact....I'm already working on plans for next year!