By Faith Eaton, with a foreword by Suzy Menkes
Published by the Royal Collection
The dolls France and Marianne and their magnificent 360-piece trousseau were given to the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose in 1938 to mark the State Visit to France by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. The 'little princesses', then aged twelve and eight, did not accompany the King and Queen, and the Director of the newspaper Le Journal conceived the idea of the dolls as a gift to them from the children of France. The metre-high dolls and their collection of clothes and accessories were dispatched in a huge crate to London, following their exhibition to the public in Paris. They were formally presented to the Princesses at Buckingham Palace by the French Ambassador and were then placed on show at St James's Palace in aid of charity. France and Marianne are now on permanent display at Windsor Castle.
France and Marianne were commissioned by the Société Française de Fabrication de Bébés et Jouets, and their bisque heads were modelled by Jumeau, one of the most famous of French doll-making companies. The eyes were specially made by Peigne, the Parisian maker of artificial human eyes, as it was felt that even the finest dolls' eyes were not good enough for the royal gift.
Although the dolls were intended as a tangible expression of the entente cordiale between Great Britain and France on the eve of the Second World War, they also served as a showcase for the French fashion industry and the elegant world of Parisian haute couture. The list of their clothes and accessories reads like a roll-call of the most famous Parisian designers of the 1930s. The dolls have everything that the fashionable girl-about-town could desire - dresses by Worth, Lanvin and Rochas; Cartier jewellery; cases by Vuitton and handbags by Hermès; and Lancôme and Guerlain perfume. There are outfits for every occasion, season and time of day, chosen to suit the blonde France and brunette Marianne.
Faith Eaton has an international reputation as a collector and writer with an extensive knowledge of the history of dolls and dolls' houses.
Suzy Menkes is the Fashion Editor of the International Herald Tribune. She is the author of The Royal Jewels, The Windsor Style and Queen and Country.
Hardback, 275 x 235 mm, 144 pp, 122 illustrations, 79 in colour.
Published November 2002. Price: £20.00. ISBN: 1 902163 57 5
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