Since 1995, when Ashton Drake introduced Gene, nearly all large-sized fashion dolls (15"-18" tall) have been sold in the same way--you can buy a dressed doll (doll in outfit) or a separate outfit. A few years later, the industry introduced the concept of "basic" doll (doll in basic underwear or lingerie, ready-to-dress). These dolls were less expensive than dressed dolls and brought many new collectors to the hobby, who then bought the separately boxed outfits or sewed outfits for their dolls.
The Basic Doll Concept
Of course, the concept of a "basic" doll has been around since the time of the French Fashion dolls of the mid 1800's--those dolls were often sold in their underwear, ready for their new mother to dress them OR for a trousseau to be made by a commercial shop. The "basic" dolls also were a similar concept to many other dolls sold throughout doll history--Cissy, Ginny, and, of course, Barbie in the 1960s (sold in her bathing suit, ready to dress!)
The Tyler Boutique Concept
The Tyler Wentworth Ready-To-Wear Boutique, from the Tonner Doll Company, now introduces a new way to shop for fashion doll clothing--mix and match separates. The separates are quality pieces of doll clothing, sold in a simple, see-though box. Instead of paying $50-$70 for an entire outfit, all co-ordinated by the doll manufacturer, with the Tyler Boutique you can decide how to put an outfit together. Pieces available include dresses, pants, skirts, sweaters, tops, halters, accessory paks and more. Prices range from approximately $14.99 to $34.99. The boutique is built around a group of colors--in this collection, tangy tangerine, passion lime, tickled pink, and black and white. All items are limited to 1,500 pieces.
The Cool, Retro-Feel of Shopping a The Boutique
The items are all displayed on a special Tyler Wentworth Ready-To-Wear Boutique display that allows the basic Saucy Tyler Wentworth dolls and the clothing to be displayed together. The entire Tyler Wentworth Boutique concept brings me back to a time when I was a little girl, and would stand, transfixed, in front of the Barbie display at my local five-and-dime. On the display would be dolls, and of course clothing. Not just complete outfits, but the Barbie "pak" items, which were mix-and-match, just like the Tyler Boutique clothing.
When the display and boutique items reached my store on Friday, I ripped into the box with an employee and friend (both of us who happen to collect Tyler). At first, I looked at the pieces of the display, and sort of panicked--my husband was away for the weekend, how would I put the display together myself? But the display is a little engineering marvel, and it was assembled in very little time. Then, I had the fun of putting the outfits and dolls on the display. Customers who stopped in during this process were suitibly impressed with the whole set-up.
No, No, We're Not Buying Any...
At this point, my friend and I considered the new Boutique together. "Well," I said to her, "My Tylers just don't need any more clothes." "Yes, same with me" she said. "And, if you look at the individual pieces, they're a bit expensive. I'm not getting any Boutique items either."
Famous Last Words
Those, of course, were famous last words that I've already eaten. After looking at the clothing in detail for a few days, I realized that they were well worth the price--only the finest fabrics were used, the sweaters are custom-done in perfect scale, dresses, skirts, pants, etc. are beautifully lined. Then, of course, I did decide to add a few pieces to my collection (the advantage of owning a shop--you get first pick!). So, there I was, standing in front of the Tyler Boutique display, choosing my outfits, just like I did when I was a little girl choosing outfits for my Barbies.
My New Tyler Boutique Pieces
The Boutique Pieces I have chosen for my dolls (so far):
--Femme en Noir Dress (pictured above--the perfect little black dress
--Tangerine Dreams Dress (great color and detailed stitching!)
--Perfect Touches Accessory Set (a little bit of this and that)
--Butterfly Jazz Skirt (I might need the pants, too...)
--Black Suede Accessories(to go with the skirt)
--Magenta Halter (also for the skirt).
Husband Is Not Amused...
My husband is going to kill me--he keeps telling me to stop taking the merchandise home, because its a sure path to financial ruin...
In any event, if you are a modern fashion doll collector, run, don't walk, to your nearest doll shop so you can experience the Tyler Boutique for yourself. You'll be glad you did, and if you are a baby boomer, you might even feel like a little girl in a doll shop again.