By Jennifer Kohn Murtha
Alluring (adjective) ~ powerfully and mysteriously attractive or fascinating; seductive.
Some people are born under an unlucky star: such was the case of the last Tsarina of Russia, aka Her Grand Ducal Highness Princess Viktoria Alix Helena Luise Beatrice of Hesse and by Rhein, who sought trouble all her life and found it in Ekaterinburg in 1917. Her childhood had been idyllic but the sudden death of her mother and her sister Marie from diphtheria cast such a pall on her that forever after, her nickname Sunny meant less than formerly, for this beautiful child grew up almost never to smile.
I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m writing this in an article for a doll magazine, but I promise, all will be revealed in the fullness of time. Suffice it to say that you all know the feeling that comes over you at certain times. You have lots of BJDs, even ones that you play with all the time, but sometimes, you just need a new doll. No rhyme or reason, no birthdays, no holidays. You just need a new doll.
I was going through that kind of period a few years ago, so got on Fabric Friends and Dolls‘ website and saw, pictured, an exquisite doll close to 18 inches (46cm, to be precise) tall, with a pre-pubescent body (what?!) and a face that was, well, haunting. To make a long story short, I bought her.
I couldn’t get over to Laytonsville any time soon after my purchase, so resigned myself to picking her up at the next Gaithersburg Doll Show…and then the fun began. That pre-pubescent body? It generated a lot of interest at the show, with many women declaring with true sisterhood feeling that they loved her plump legs in particular, so unusual in a BJD where stark perfection of form is the rule. And the rest of her figure, slightly rounded, tiny pre-adolescent breasts, a certain awkwardness typical of young teens or tweens. What a different body this doll had, from anyone else’s that I could think of.
And her face! In antique dolls, the head is the most valuable part of the doll, but in BJDs? Not so much. With their complicated jointing, their heads are, in a sense, secondary, but with Dollmore’s Alexia, a new standard was achieved, for this doll, with her unusual body, also had a unique head, as her sculptor, Gu mi-jeong, a most accomplished artist, sculpted a beautiful likeness-of Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhein.
Did Dollmore advertize this fact? No, they did not, surprisingly, but when I opened up her head to check an eye that had slipped, there, incised into the resin, was Alix…or Alex, in English… She had looked so familiar to me, as I have painted several portraits of the Russian Royal family and so to have my suspicions confirmed was good. A true portrait of young Princess Alix, only in doll form-what could be better for me? Truly the best of both my worlds!
In any case, she was home and I was in love but…reality hit in the form of clothes for this unusually shaped doll. I hereby say right now that if Michele Hardy hadn’t had some things ready for Kaye Wiggs Layla that she tweaked for Alexia, I’d still be sitting on my bed with a naked doll, wondering what on earth to do. But Michele saved us and included shoes, a boon to doll kind. Although Dollmore says that she fits SD sized shoes, kind of, and MSD shoes, not at all, they’ve done nothing about shoes for her plump feet so anyone who buys her is on her own. Or his, we’re equal opportunity here. (NB, Dollmore has just put out a few very nice pairs of shoes and boots for our girl, so all is not lost yet.)
Okay, I confess. I always wanted a Travel Doll, one who came with me to various events and conventions or to quiet times with friends, etc…As I began to build Alix’s wardrobe, almost all of which is custom made, I got the idea that she could be my Travel Doll, so I got her a small suitcase, a carry-on bag, and started filling it. With abandon.
Her things are mostly custom made as she’s not so easy to fit. Some loose dresses that will fit Kaye Wiggs Layla are okay for her, but for close to the body tailoring, she needs haute couture, or a reasonable facsimile. She has day into evening dresses, jeans, skirts, hoodies, blouses, sweaters, under garments, nightwear, stockings (SD size to accommodate her, er, shapely legs) hats and jewels and even a pair of gloves, not to mention furry bunny slippers.
I also, I blush to admit, bought her a combination Murphy bed and dressing table for travel, in case she didn’t have decent accommodation. It has room for her to ride in style, the bed, the dressing table and drawers and also, a wardrobe. The only trouble with that is that, try to blame it on Alix though I might, her wardrobe has grown and grown, until finally, we had to size up to a big suitcase and still leave half her clothes at home. (I get the smallest suitcase for travel…such is the life of a doll collector.)
Then, the girl who had everything, at least I thought she did, got a beau, Iple House JID Kyle. Well, more true confessions: I bought him from Den of Angels, gorgeous guy…but alas, born way too small for the altogether more sumptuous Alix, whose head was about a half size bigger than his…I couldn’t know that until I got him in person as I had no basis for comparison. Live and learn.
So poor Kyle went to live elsewhere, where his male pulchritude wasn’t so much in question and where at least five gorgeous gals just love him to bits. This left me with a doll who seemed lonely, listless and rather sad.
Shopping on Den of Angels, where I should never go….ever, as even with the best will in the world, I always find someone to buy, I saw a beautiful version of Alexia with a face-up by the incomparable Jay Searle. I agonized, shared her with my Yahoo group, All BJDs Welcome Here and went on and on about whether I should get Alix a sister, etc, with advice for the lovelorn from the group. Mostly pro, a few against, but all chimed in and helped me to decide to buy Jay’s masterpiece. She came pretty quickly; I couldn’t see her immediately, as she was my birthday gift, a whole month away. My husband, ever-patient, kept her in his closet and on my birthday, out she came…and a happier reunion was never photographed. The two dolls hugged from the wrapping out! I had, of course, bought the new girl, Irina, a lot of her own things, again more custom stuff, before she arrived, so both girls were very well dressed….but the course of true love ne’er has run smooth…
Dollmore, bless their hearts, came out with another version of Alexia, rather hilariously named Sediment, (should have been Sentiment, but we all understand language difficulties) costumed to represent a French bebe, complete with outfit and bonnet lifted straight from Bru Jne et Cie, circa 1885. By then, I was over the one-doll-in-that-style approach, so promptly ordered her too and started planning a doll’s house for these beautiful dolls, Three Sisters Villa, which will probably stay in the planning stage, as it would be the size of baby Buckingham Palace. You do the math…18 inch doll, yadda yadda.
I began this article by saying that the real Princess Alix was born under a most unlucky star….but my version of her? With two sisters from the same line from Dollmore, plus older sister Princess Elizabeth (Souldoll Hye) and younger sister Princess Marie (Dollmore Dear Doll Narang), all wearing lovely clothes and all having a lot of leisure time to sit around and look beautiful, I think that maybe Princess Alix’s luck has changed. At least in our world, where nothing bad ever happens…
Photos above from top: Alix in Wildflower Creation’s copy of the real princess’s mourning dress, “Sediment” Alexia detail, Lexie in The Wee Wardrobe’s creation.
Alexia is available From Dollmore and their authorized retailers