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The Paris Doll Show

PARIS, FRANCE November 1962

Some 60,000 people paid 60 cents a head to see the autumn show of 4,000 dolls from 74 countries held at the Galliera Museum in Paris, and the French Children's Protection Center benefited by over $40,000.

The event, first of this scale ever held in Paris, was organized by Mrs. Pierre Dupuy, wife of the Canadian Ambassador to France. The dolls, except for a few from bygone days lent by collectors, were gifts to the Center from, or via, the diplomatic corps in Paris, from consolidated shopkeepers in famous shopping streets in Paris, from the big stores, and from trade organizations.

Dealers, collectors, and the public at large, swarmed early to buy, but all purchases remained on the stands till the show had run its sixteen days. A few star exhibits, including a folk doll given by Empress Farah Diba of Iran, were raffled, the Iranian doll bringing $2,000. The dolls were dazzling in color, with folk costumes dominating. Kings, queens, courtiers, tinkers, tailors, soldiers, sailors, musicians, dancers, clowns, camel-drivers, mountaineers, peasants, even spacemen, were represented. Being modern, most were of plastics, but some were of wood, leather, rubber, wax, or silk; there were even examples in stone.

Fourty-one United States exhibits catalogued as "Gift of the American Embassy in Paris. Magasin F.A.O. Schwarz, N.Y.," included "Jacqueline Kennedy"; "The Four Daughters of Dr. March" (Little Women); and an "American Bride." American dolls prices range from $6 to $30.

A Venezuelan danve group was priced $50; a Rumanian shepherd and peasant, $50 each. Belgium's items included a Queen Fabiola of the Belgians in marriage robes, at $74. Canada's big display showed Eskimos, Mounted Police, and a Skater, in costume knitted by Mrs. John Diefenbacker, wife of the Prime Minister. Mexico's display was exceptionally large and colorful. Monaco had eleven exhibits; two of them, "A Monegasque Doll" and a "Palace Guardsman," were given by Princess Grace. Ghana showed 34 little dolls of a type carried by Sudenese women as fertility symbols. The French provinces made a lavish display and could have supported an exhibition of their own, but it was the strong international flavor that gave the display its cachet.

Despite the kaleidoscopic assembly of little figures in the main hall, the biggest attraction was in a room apart -the collection of some 100 mannequin dolls, dressed by famous houses, and jealously guarded till the very opening of the exhibition. These mannequin dolls, two feet tall, were all molded alike; most showed modes of 1963, as do those pictured above; a few were arrayed as historical personages such as Marie Antoinette and Empress Josephine. With their exquisite robes and jewels, they would have found avid buyers, but they were not for sale. Tours in the French provinces, and possibly abroad, are envisioned for them.

Only a few old dolls were displayed, labels giving no hint of their ies. An organizer of the exhibition told me, "The old dolls were ingored by almost all the reporters and photographers."

The artist Peynet, of the Peynet designed a poster for the disand French TV gave the exhia peak time half-hour on its hannel. An attendant reckoned that the 60,000 visitors included "about 600 gentlemen, nearly all escorting ladies."

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