Imagine youâre a fly on the wall at the ultimate tea partyâVID (very important dolls) only, of course. A certain 11Â˝-inch So Cal blonde is networking center stage; the American Girls have formed a circle and are working at various arts and crafts projects, while the Bratz pack are text messaging their boyfriends.
But you canât help staring at the doe-eyed redhead in the corner, trying to commune with the spiders (yeah, the partyâs that boringâŚ). She sighs, turns and pirouettes on her totally rockinâ peep-toe heels. And that was Miss Ellowyne Wilde. If youâre thinking this doll is quite unlike any youâve seen before, thatâs exactly what her creators at the Mullica Hill, NJ-based Wilde Imagination are hoping. âWe wanted to bring something different to the doll world,â says Debra DeForte, the newly formed companyâs marketing and sales director. The company also wanted a doll who is of the moment, and definitely in touch with the times. âEllowyne was inspired by Japanese anime, the fashion illustrations of Ruben Toledo, Steve Madden shoe ads in which models had digitally enhanced heads and feet, and any number of other pop culture references,â DeForte explains .A promising provenance, indeed. And it never hurts if youâve engaged one of the doll worldâs brightest stars to design your first line.
When it came to finding the creative force behind Ellowyne, looking to award-winning Robert Tonner, known for dolls that embody endless charm and chic, was a no-brainer. âWilde Imagination wants to work with the best in the business, which naturally led us to Robert,â DeForte notes. âWe asked him to develop the line and present it when it was finished. We totally trusted him to develop something special. Itâs a great way to work with an artist.â
Tonner concurs, completely. âIt was a dream come true,â says the designer. âComplete artistic control!â Although, as it turns out, there was indeed someone other than Tonner pulling the strings.
A Star Is Born (hmmmâŚbetter make that A Star is Bored)
You know a Robert Tonner doll when you see oneâand thatâs a good thing. But when the artist set out to design his first creation for Wilde Imagination, he had to find a balance between his signature style and ensuring that Ellowyne remains âher own doll.â âI knew I wanted a totally different look, but at the same time, this was a doll that I wanted to sculpt myself, rather than hire another sculptor to do her, based on my design,â Tonner says.
During the sculpting process, Tonner kept reference materials around all the timeâfashion design illustrations, roÂmantic references, looks from movies and magazines, with a little current Gothâto keep himself on the right track. âBut the more I developed the woman she was becoming,â he says, âthe more her looks designed themselves.Â She more or less directed her own look.â
As Ellowyne began to emerge, Tonner found his own personality giving way to his âinner Ellowyne.â âWhen I sculpt a doll, I try to âfeelâ the mood,â he tells us. âEllowyne was slouching the whole time I sculpted herâand her hands, for example, became especially expressive. This doll, more than any other, truly has a personality, and it made her very interesting for me to create.â
21st Century Fox
According to her accompanying biography, Ellowyneâs not quite depressed, but suffers from eternal boredom. She loves antiques and old clocks, hunting in thrift shops for cool clothes and dines on whipped cream and edible flowers. Sheâs all about lots of sighing, pouting and not quite fitting in. We couldnât help but ask her creator what he really thought about Ellowyneâand if heâd like to hang out with her. âI think Iâd like her, but at the same time, Iâd feel a little sorry for her,â Tonner muses. âI doubt if weâd have much in common. Iâm personally pretty upbeat about things, and ElloÂwyne is definitely not!â
âWell, sheâs definitely not a perfect fashion diva,â DeForte chimes in, âand although her story is a bit dark, itâs also funny, mysterious and very intriguing.â
Just ask the more than 200 collectors on hand for our heroineâs unveiling at the Third annual Tonner Doll Convention in Denver this past August. The first doll in the line, âEllowyne Wilde: Her Reluctant Debut,â a limited edition of 350, sold out in just 24 hours. The reception was equally warm at the Doll & Teddy Expo later that month. âCollectors loved her beautiful face, and the amazing details in her outfitsâand, of course, her storyline,â DeForte reports.
The company is betting that itâs not just doll aficionados whoâll fall in love with this truly unique character. âElloÂwyneâs story will bring her to a broader audience; perhaps anime collectors and younger collectors who love fashion and can relate to her sullen personality,â continues Deforte, adding that the company plans on selling the line direct to consumers via mailings and an e-commerce website (www.wildeimagina tion.com). Collectors can join the companyâs mailing list via the website or find her at FAO Schwarz, the only reÂtailer to carry the line.
âMy hope is that Ellowyne will appeal to all those people out there who, at one time or another, didnât understand the world and didnât feel that they fit in,â Tonner notes.
Besides, when you look that good, how bad can perpetual boredom and endless sighing possibly be?