The theme of Childhood and Diana Lemieux’s work seemed like the perfect pairing. When Sasha dolls first appeared commercially in the 1960s, they were dressed in the height of modern fashion. This continued right up to their end of production. It’s a perfect fit for Matilda Pink, Diana Lemieux’s clothing label. Diana loves creating doll fashions based on vintage styles from the late 60s to early 70s. Just the right period for classic Sasha.
As Diana explains, “I like designing for dolls like Blythe, Patience, and Ellowyne Wilde, but my heart belongs to vintage 16- to 17-inch dolls like Crissy, Nancy Famosa, Marie Françoise by Petitcollin, Sasha, Furga’s Alta Moda S Girls, and Corinne by Italo Cremona – just to name a few. The bigger fashion dolls remind me of one of my best childhood memories, when I received a Crissy doll in my Easter
basket. My mother had purchased her secondhand, without shoes or a change of clothes. I have a golden memory of sewing a wardrobe for Crissy with my mom, using a Simplicity pattern we found at our library’s pattern exchange. My mother worked full-time, so this was my only childhood memory of sitting at a sewing machine with her.”
Diana’s new patterns, especially drafted for the clothing shown here, are available for purchase from the Lemieux Doll Boutique on pixiefaire.com. Additionally, finished outfits can be found at matildapink.etsy.com. As she says, “I’m pretty excited about all of this. I discovered that the vintage Sasha dolls can share clothes with several dolls that are currently in production (the English doll A Girl for All Time, the Sylvia Natterer Starlette doll for Petitcollin, and the new La Bella doll by Kathe Kruse). It was a very happy discovery. “
Matilda Pink’s work is beautifully designed, with great attention to detail – often resembling miniaturized versions of full-scale clothing. The shirts in particular really do look like tiny grown-up garments, fully-fashioned with working buttons. Pants include functional pockets, and dresses are carefully lined.
Sasha dolls were created by Sasha Morgenthaler (1893 – 1975) in Switzerland. Morgenthaler wanted her dolls to have expressions capable of interpretation by their young owners. The dolls were consciously neither happy nor sad, rather having a more wistful look that could capture many moods. The faces were originally hand-painted by the artist herself, with bold abstract strokes – a style that was suggestive, not precise. The artist sometimes used a stick to pull up the wet paint of the eyelid to form eyelashes. Her vision was to create dolls that represented the spirit of children of all races and cultures during their age of innocence. A protégé of Paul Klee, she was active in European artistic and social movements.
From the 1940s until her death, she created one-of-a-kind 20-inch cloth, gypsum, and plastic dolls in her studio, these dolls are museum-quality works of art. Sasha’s dream, however, was to make less expensive play dolls with universal appeal. In the mid-1960s she developed her 16-inch vinyl dolls, manufactured in Germany and England. These dolls have stylized bodies, are asymmetric, and have realistic proportions. They gained worldwide popularity during the 1960s to the 1980s. They are perfectly balanced and can assume many poses unsupported – even headstands! Skin colorings were chosen to represent all the children of the world.
Sasha Morgenthaler was fiercely protective of her dolls and their image, she quickly saw off any imitators such as Moni the interloper, a cheaply-made mini version of Sasha by Uranium of Switzerland, but actually made in Hong Kong.
More ideas for dressing these dolls can be found in Golden Hands, a weekly crafts magazine published in the UK during the 1970s, with occasional knitting instructions for outfits to fit Sasha and her brother Gregor. Another source is the excellent 1981 book, Head to Toe, with vintage sewing patterns by Jeannette Murphee Orsi. For this story we decided on a mixture of vintage and modern fabrics, that would be appropriate for the era. As a backdrop some groovy prints from Marimekko have been used. We hope Sasha Morgenthaler would have approved! v
You can see more of Diana’s work at matildapink.com and matildapink.etsy.com, her doll dress-making patterns are available from Lemieux Doll Boutique on pixiefaire.com
She is also featured in the virtual doll room TheBoldDoll, see thebolddoll.com/modern/dressing-blythe and thebolddoll.com/vintage/les-parisiennes-de-kiraz
Text and photo by Ian Price
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