It’s always fantastic to get an e-mail from Robert Tonner and his colleagues at his ever-evolving Tonner company. The doll artist never rests on his reputation, and the fall season means a burst of creativity and hand-in-hand announcements. Whether he’s creating a doll from another, faraway civilization or a lifelike figure from America’s distant past, Tonner always gives his dolls a sense of realism and professionalism. His dolls are incredible because they seem like they can break their poses and begin to chat with you at any moment. His craftsmanship speaks volumes, indeed. For the folks who were alert during the weekend of September 14 to the 17, Tonner hosted a flash sale of his newest Scarlett Barbecue doll. The doll was priced at $175 for this special opportunity. Anyone who purchased during September 14 to midnight, Eastern time, on Monday, September 17, was immediately entered into an incredible giveaway: Scarlett like she’d never been seen before. “We’ve taken the opportunity to dress our current version of Scarlett in some perhaps unexpected fashions. Dare say Rhett may approve?” Tonner jests. One lucky, randomly selected winner will have the chance to claim one of these uniquely coiffed and sensationally garbed Scarletts during the September 18 drawing.
Say what you want about Scarlett O’Hara, but the feisty Southern miss had a streak of defiance, confidence, arrogance, and rebellion, coupled with self-delusion, self-destruction, and self-aggrandizement! She was one heck of a complicated woman. Scarlett has so many facets to her personality — a child-woman one minute and a courageous daughter of the South the very next. On the big screen, Vivien Leigh portrayed Scarlett and she personified all the multi-dimensions of this Confederate spitfire. Vivien was able to make many of Scarlett’s less desirable traits seem palatable and acceptable. Because Vivien was such a talented actress, and was diagnosed as bipolar in her real life, she had an empathy for women who were not predictable and traditional. She was able to key into the passion of Scarlett, her highs and her low, because they reflected her own emotional upheavals. (Vivien was making a new life for herself in America, with no less than the “greatest actor of his time,” Laurence Olivier. Talk about competition, pressure, and clashes of ego.)
Tonner has picked up on this notion of Scarlett as a woman of many moods and has decked her out (and photographed her) in a variety of unexpected outfits. The “Gone with the Wind” movie has a huge array of spectacular costumes. Scarlett seemingly has a gown for every brand-new thought that enters her always-calculating brain. The woman is a clotheshorse, and nothing was safe from her eyes, her speculation, and her grasp. With an entire ensemble fashioned from velvet drapes, she gave new meaning to the term “window shopping”!
For this giveaway — and a fortunate winner will be randomly chosen Tuesday, September 18 — the Scarlett doll is decked out in outfits from other Tonner offerings. Some of the matchups are frankly fantastic. Scarlett in the scarlet gown from “Outlander” is absolutely gorgeous. It is looks like second skin on the radiant, raven-haired Scarlett doll. Plus, the blending of past and present is accentuated by the stockings that Scarlett sports. “Scarlett as Claire Fraser needs something to hold this architectural wonder up, so a tulle cage is included. Under all that is nude pantyhose — a nod to the modern — and costume-accurate satin shoes with buckled straps to hold them in place,” Tonner points out. In this ensemble, Scarlett bridges the gap from 1930s sweeping romantic saga (that’s when she made her literary and film debut) to 21st-century romance-novel superstar. Claire Fraser is a beloved figure for cable-TV viewers, book readers, and bookclub members everywhere!
Clare Fraser debuted as a literary heroine in 1991; she became a TV character in 2014. Her storyline has her time-traveling from post-World War II Scotland to the Highlands of 1743! Clare manages to fit in, while simultaneously shaking up, the population that surround her. She’s feisty, determined, headstrong, and a lot like Scarlett! It’s a perfect fit.
Tonner also garbs Scarlett in another feisty, smart, bright, and individualistic woman’s attire. She looks perfect decked out in Mary Astor’s costume from “The Great Lie.” In this role-of-a-lifetime, Astor won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Astor was a fascinating woman who didn’t “save it all” for the screen. She lived an unapologetic, uncompromising life off-screen, and was the focal point of a Hollywood scandal. While lesser women might have been destroyed by the accusations and allegations, Astor held her head high and rose from the gossip-rag ashes like a Phoenix. Her career got a boost from the whispers of adultery, child abandonment, and an astounding “lust life.” Moviegoers, who hadn’t paid attention to her before the news coverage, all wanted to get a gander at her post-divorce proceedings. Mary Astor was a real-life woman with an out-of-the-world private life. The Scarlett doll looks fabulous in the costume Tonner chose for her.
“This look is based off of one of the film’s most thrilling scenes. High after performing for a packed house, the illustrious pianist must return to her dressing room to hash it out with her new husband’s ex-fiancée,” Tonner explains. “In this scene, Mary Astor wore a pleated ivory chiffon gown, and an embroidered soft pink cape that is both intimidating and feminine.” Astor co-starred in this flick with the equally intimidating Bette Davis.
That duality of “feminine” and “intimidating” is especially noticeable in Tonner’s coupling of Scarlett with the ethereal, bewitching and witchy character Evangeline Ghastly. Scarlett takes a walk on the Wilde side in the Gothic Gold ensemble. Tonner describes the pairing in a vivid and cinematic way: “The shimmering moonlight sparkles against the gold sequins of this 19-inch beauty’s dress. Her black fishnet gauntlets tie in exquisitely with the detachable lace collar, which does not snap completely. It boasts show-stopping black and gold trim, featuring beads, faux flowers, sequins, and feathers.”
We’ve never seen Scarlett posed in all these different possibilities, unfurling the potential that she’s always contained within her corseted, buttoned-up frame.