Radio Days Musings... Coming Full Circle

I can't imagine a more perfect beginning to the second decade of "Sandra Stillwell Presents" conventions than to be surrounded by friends -- both old and new -- in the lovely city of Cincinnati, Ohio.

In an interesting way, it's as if we've come full circle, as it was 10 years ago that my dear friend, George Sarofeen, first proposed hosting a Gene convention in his adopted hometown of Cincinnati. My first Gene convention, Tulsa's "Oil Baron's Ball" had wrapped only a couple of weeks before, and I was riding high with enthusiasm and awe for everything Gene -- including the talented "Gene Team" designer, George.

I can still hear the excitement in George's voice as he told me about the magnificent Netherland Plaza Hotel and ideas for his chosen theme, "Radio Days".

I, on the other hand, had my heart set on a "Derby Dreams" convention in Louisville -- my beloved husband, Danny's, hometown.
In the following weeks, I became a big fan of Cincinnati and all that George proposed, but in true gentleman style, he graciously conceded that Louisville would be the perfect place for the 2003 convention -- as long as HE could host Gene's 10th anniversary convention in Cincinnati!

Thus, George and I formed a fast friendship that would endure many ups and downs of life, including the passing of my dear Danny and the retirement of Gene.

And the 10th Anniversary Gene Convention? George again graciously conceded that I could organize that convention -- in my chosen city of Stamford Connecticut, Gene's "hometown" -- and that he would fill the role of convention costume designer. Working with George on the fashions for the "Decade of Dreams" convention was one of the highlights of my "Gene years" -- as well as a lifeline I so desperately needed after losing Danny only a few short weeks before -- and I silently vowed to one day repay George's kindness by making the Cincinnati convention he so desired actually happen.

I'm very grateful I could do that with "Sandra Stillwell Presents: Radio Days", complete with George's new associates, Horsman Dolls, and their muse, Vita, in attendance! It was especially neat to hear George's recollections and pictures from his illustrious history in doll fashion design and his bright future with Horsman.

Though there were changes from George's original ideas ten years ago, the basics still remained. I believe -- and am confident George would agree -- that "Radio Days" was everything he had envisioned, and more! Sold out in record time, it was an unbelievable success!
And now that our 2012 convention, "Sandra Stillwell Presents: Radio Days" has come to an end, I can't help but reflect on the many memories surrounding not only this convention, but also those throughout the past decade that have brought us to this point. Whether heartwarming or heartbreaking, happy or sad, laughter and tears -- they are all heartfelt reflections that have helped make me, personally, and "Sandra Stillwell Presents" what it is today. The constant thread throughout the years is the doll friends I've encountered and relationships built along the way -- people I am so grateful to have included in my life.

So now we have come full circle -- and kicked off the second decade of "Sandra Stillwell Presents" conventions in high style!

Before closing, I have to take a moment to express my deepest gratitude to everyone who made our 2012 "Radio Days" convention the overwhelming success that it was!
To my core volunteer staff: There are simply no words to express my gratitude and appreciation for all you do to help make conventions the best they can be. Your valued friendships keep me uplifted and on track, bringing immeasurable richness to my life. I could not -- and would not want to -- do it without you. Some of my greatest blessings have come from knowing you all, and I thank you for your trust, understanding, and support throughout the years.

To everyone who made jewelry, sewed a bead, made a hat, dressed/undressed a doll, switched a head, stuffed a package, carried a box or any other of the multitude of convention duties: Thank you SO much for your time, efforts, and help! Your finishing touches truly helped make convention outstanding.

To everyone involved in producing our fabulous "Radio Days" souvenirs, fashions, and accessories: Thank you for your hard work and dedication to beautifully execute and bring my visions to "life". I am so very proud of all the wonderful fashions we created for this year's collection!

Especially to Dorinda Balanecki, Ken Young and George Sarofeen of the Horsman Doll Company: Thank you for being such an invaluable part of "Sandra Stillwell Presents: Radio Days". It was an honor to have you join us this year! We look forward to having you with us at conventions to come!!

Special Thanks to George for the "Radio Days" inspiration and your constant friendship throughout the years.

This year was also especially meaningful because, in addition to the treasured friends who grace us every year, we had several new guests and long missed friends with us in Cincinnati.

Most importantly -- to all of our "Radio Days" attendees:

My deepest thanks for all your efforts to join us for this 2012 "Sandra Stillwell Presents" convention!  I know it takes long travel, much money, and other sacrifices to attend an event -- and your participation means the world to me! I am forever grateful for your support. Thanks, too, for my giant card and all your heartfelt sentiments -- I will cherish it always.

I'd also like to extend sincere thanks to the absentees and others who support convention through purchases -- your patronage helps make convention possible!

Each of you played a role in making "Radio Days" very special, indeed! I hope the sweet "melodies" of convention will continue to play in your hearts in remembrance of our wonderful time together in Cincinnati!

And finally, much appreciation to everyone for you enthusiasm for this years "Radio Days" collection. It means more than I can express.

Photos of all the "Radio Days" fashions and a recap of the festivities have been uploaded below-- along with information about any available fashions on the Sales page. Please visit often for updates!

Stay tuned for upcoming news about our 2013 "Sandra Stillwell Presents" convention -- plans are already underway for another FUN event!!

I hope to see you all next year!


Taking a short break....

Hi everyone!

I hope everyone who attended Radio Days had a pleasant trip home and thank you for coming!

I am making a short visit to New York City for a few days. I will have limited Internet access and will respond to your emails as soon as possible.

The sales page has now been updated with items from Radio Days. Feel free to email me if you would like to purchase anything or have any questions. Please remember I am traveling so I may not get right back to you. Email me at or you can try calling 502-377-5153.

Believe it or not, I am already starting work on next years event! I hope to see you all again in 2013!


Radio Days is now ON THE AIR!!

Sandra Stillwell Presents... Radio Days began on Thursday with an optional off site tour to Augusta, KY and Rosemary Clooney's home/history museum.

Attendees will recieve
Girl Singer
This is a photo of the first prototype, which is a work in progress and subject to change.

Photo by Jeff Lega

Radio Days Thursday Reception

Ken Young, President,  Dorinda Balanecki, design director & George Sarofeen, designer of Horsman Ltd were special guests for the opening reception. Dorinda gave a presentation to the group on the evolution of Vita. It was Ken's birthday and a special cake topped with Vita was presented to him.

My Valentine Vita in teal dressed doll
 The complete fashion and wig was available to purchase as well.

Optional purchase items:
Madame Coco
Inspired by a 1930's Chanel design.

Velvet Touch in red, black, blue, teal, green & purple

Euphoric in burgundy or teal

Gossamer Romance in green or lavender

Horsman gave attendees a hat box

And everyone received a Gene size replica of a 1930's Bluebird radio from Sandra Stillwell as part of the convention package.

Photos by Jeff Lega

Radio Days Friday Breakfast

Breakfast featured a lecture by Cincinnati Art Museum costume department curator Cynthia Amneus with an overview of the museum and its costume collection.

Arcadia Tea

Optional Purchase items:
Queen City Gal

Oriental Bouquet

Platinum Lux

Canapes & Cocktails
Inspired by a Jean Desses fashion

Everyone received the the breakfast souvenir
A Work of Art
A recreation of a gown by Hattie Carnegie from the Cincinnati Museum collection.

Photos by Jeff Lega

Radio Days Friday Dinner & PJ Party

At the Airwaves to the Stars dinner, guests received a mini "Cincinnati Radio" book. As a special treat, Horsman's Dorinda Balanecki shared a rare glimpse into the production of  Vita, followed by George Sarofeen's presentation on his illustrious history with Gene/Ashton Drake and now Horsman - complete with a beautiful display of his designs.

The Centerpieces were:
The Big Broadcast

Airwaves to the Stars

Over the Airwaves

Optional purchase items were:
Grand Silhouette

Elegance Defined

Everyone will receive the lovely Deco inspired Huntress.

Shortly following dinner, attendees donned their best PJ's for the Studio Commissary PJ Party. Three lucky contestants played a game of "Let's Make a Deal' followed by a best PJ contest. The Studio Commissary provided movie candy for all and the Doris Day film "My Dream is Yours" was shown.

Photos by Jeff Lega & Sue T.

Radio Days Saturday Breakfast

Attendees were treated to a Cincinnati themed breakfast where an interesting documentary on local celebrity, Ruth Lyons, was shown.

Centerpieces were:
Union Terminal Arrival

Strolling on Fountain Square

Everyone received
Lady of Leisure
A multi piece ensemble for a leisurely Saturday morning.

Photos by Jeff Lega

Radio Days Saturday Lunch

Lunch was devoted to "Afternoon Diversions" of the 1930's. Mini vintage Radio Stars magazines graced the tables. A program on celebrities from the Cincinnati area was given by local historian Jim Bruckmann, a docent from the Cincinnati History Museum.

The centerpieces were:
America's Sweetheart (purple) & America's Beloved (teal)

Optional purchase item:
Brave New World

Guests received
Social Butterfly

Sandra showed prototypes of companion fashions that didn't make it in time for the event. These are still a work in progress and coat/hat colors & design subject to change.
Heart & Soul

Body & Soul

Cheek to Cheek

Photos by Jeff Lega

Radio Days Saturday Matinee

Lullaby of Broadway, starring Doris Day, was shown with popcorn and beverages served.

The centerpiece, "My Dream is Yours", was based on a costume from the Doris Day film of the same name which was viewed at the Friday night PJ party.

Photos by Jeff Lega

Radio Days Saturday Night Banquet

The final dinner was a tribute to Cincinnati's sweetheart Doris Day. During dinner a "fashion show" was held highlighting the optional purchase items. Sandra gave a fascinating PowerPoint presentation on the inspirations for the Radio Days Collection. The evening closed with the results of the silent helper auction and helper raffle.

Auction doll:
Cincinnati Inquirer

Centerpieces were Sentimental Journey in purple, yellow and lavender. These were based on a Doris Day fashion from film "By the Light of the Silvery Moon".

Optional purchase items:
From Dusk to Dawn

Morning Dew
Above fashions based on a costume designed for the Doris Day film Midnight Lace.

Moonlight Garden

My Own Invention
Based on an Elizabeth Hawes gown c. 1930's named "It's My Own Invention".

 Based on "Styx", another Elizabeth Hawes design, this was shown to attendees as a forthcoming fashion.

Everyone attending will receive "Somebody Loves Me", inspired by a Doris Day costume from the film "Lullyby of Broadway". 


Photos by Jeff Lega