|The Divine Devereaux Sisters|
|Written by Nayda Rondon|
|Friday, 01 August 2008 00:00|
Emerging from the bleak reality and sobering horrors of World War I, Americans during the 1920s were bursting with the need to celebrate life. Diversion became the order of the day. Established social mores were shed in favor of fun and frivolity. Rebellion and the desire for change were in the air. Americansâchafing at restrictive social traditions and laws such as Prohibitionâbecame intoxicated with the idea of breaking loose. Jazz music thrilled the ears and stirred the soul; Art Deco reached its zenith; modern appliances and inventions added to leisure time; the automobile brought increased freedom and mobility; women won the right to vote; and social roles were redefined
Hear them roar! The Devereaux sisters are coming on the scene andâfaster than you can cut a rug doing the Charleston or the Lindy Hopâtheyâre sure to set tongues wagging and imaginations soaring. Squired about town by the dashing and debonair Robert Tonner, the mysterious sisters have fashionistas, socialites, and other assorted girls and boys about town abuzz with speculation and excitement.
Whether theyâre spotted enjoying a leisurely weekend at East Egg with âold moneyâ types like Tom and Daisy Buchanan, making an entrance at one of Jay Gatsbyâs over-the-top parties in his palatial mansion or being ânaughtyâ at a riotous speakeasy scorning the no-alcohol mandate of Prohibition, the dishy Devereaux sisters command the scene, at ease in every milieu. And, of course, theyâre always dressed to devastate the competition. Glamorous, playful, exuberant, vivacious and not afraid to defy convention, they embody the heady spirit of the Roaring â20s.
Tonner was the first one caught in the sistersâ alluring spell. They took shape in his mind late last year. Inspired by a Vogue fashion spread with a 1920s vibe, Tonner played with the concept of his latest doll divas. âI thought that the look and feel, or idea, would make a wonderful line and Joe (Petrollese) was eager to design in the â20s mode,â Tonner explains. âI found a vintage painting of a flapper that I gave to two different sculptors we work with and had each do his take of the face.
âThat was the first time Iâd done something like that,â Tonner says. âIt was fun to see what happened.â Tonner, faced with two similar looks and pleased with both head sculpts, thought: Why choose between them? Two beauties were better than one, he reasoned, and so the concept of the âsistersâ was born.
âIt was a pretty straightforward process,â says designer Petrollese.Â âRobÂert came to me with this idea for a new group. He had the name and the direction he wanted to go with them. He then worked on the heads while I started working on ideas for silhouettes, colors, and fabrics. While I stopped short of actually putting on a flapper dress, I did do a lot of research into the period. I like to think the clothes weâve designed reflect that periodâs feel and look, yet also have a bit of a contemporary flavor. The biggest challenge for me was coming up with ways to make them look different while still having them share a similar feel.â
âFortunately, the sisters have been good,â Tonner notes. âUp until now, they haven't been much trouble. I think the biggest challenge involved the head sculptsâworking to suggest features that depict another time.
âTonner, knowing that every true femme fatale closely guards her air of mystique, remains vague about the ladiesâ background. âI can tell you they have this kind of French cafĂ© society thing going on,â he volunteers. Rather than flask-carrying, fast and âeasyâ flappers who hobnob with gangsters and rogues in smoky honky-tonks, however, Tonner characterizes the Devereaux duo as âmore like high society ladies.
âPressed for more particularsâWhat makes them special and unique? Is there a âbadâ girl and a âgoodâ girl? Is there a bit of sibling rivalry going on? Any man on the scene who might be causing tension and competition between the siblings? Are they rich party girls, or do they have careers?âTonner does offer additional tidbits. âI donât think they work. ... And they are rich (wait till you see their clothes!). Of course, they are highly sought-after and, as of now, they get along very well. But weâre still getting to know them. You never know what surprises they might have in store. âŠ
âLouise and ReneĂ© are the same 16-inch size as âTyler Wentworthâ but with a smaller bust (perfectly suited for those divine â20s frocks); they are composed of vinyl and hard plastic. They both come in different hair colors. âThey donât want to be cornered into one look,â Petrollese says.
As of press time, there was no definitive word on edition size or pricing. âWeâll do basic dolls, dressed dolls and outfits that can be purchased separately,â notes Tonner, who adds collectors can see for themselves when the dolls debut in late summer.
âThere will be approximately 8 to 10 pieces all together,â Petrollese says. âWhile each sister will have her own distinct personality and style, I think the clothes will be interchangeable. After all, theyâre sisters. Even if they donât want to share, they steal pieces from each other while the other is not looking.
âParticularly striking are the outfits on the dressed dolls. Both suits, theyâre adorned with fur accents and accessorized by complementary hats, gloves and handbags. Ladylike and refined, the ensembles have a similar look but are different, much like the sisters themselves. ReneĂ© looks ultra chic in black while Louise looks equally sensational in elegant ivory.
âWhen collectors get a look at these dolls and their clothes, I hope theyâll fall in love with them,â Petrollese continues. âIâd really like to see them do well so the line can expand. These dolls have such a distinct look. Theyâre romantic and hark back to a time I personally love.â
âIâm bringing the same quality to Louise and ReneĂ© as we do to our other dolls,â Tonner states, âbut I love that weâre in another decade. I hope weâve captured the beauty and decadence of the â20s and that collectors will see and respond to that in the dolls.Â This is a line Iâd love to build on, so I hope we get a positive response. Itâs like entering another world.
âWith its je ne sais quoi appeal, itâs a world into which collectors will likely clamor for entry. The Devereaux sisters are making a brief stop in St. Petersburg, Fla., at the 2008 Modern Doll Collectors ConventionÂź Sept. 24-27 before returning to their beloved Paris.
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