Paper dolls, with their little detachable clothes, as we know them today, started being spread, in North America and Europe from the 1910s on, in propaganda supplements and magazines. They were aimed both at children and women, with more specific themes for each age group: for young girls, children's replicas and, for women, the latest fashion trends. There is even talk of a "golden age" of paper dolls. It would have started from the 1930s all the way until the post-World War II years; they were so popular because paper had become an accessible product, much cheaper than in previous years and the raging success in every household were celebrity paper dolls, mostly of movie stars.
You could build an entire Olimpus with the Hollywood divas alone in kraftpaper. From one side, the models; a Marilyn Monrow in intimate clothes of the time, with her mole next to her mouth and, at the next page, her figurines with small folding and holding edges. At a time when Barbies were a luxury that could only be afforded by few, few things must have been as fun for girls, young ladies and housewives than dressing up their Rita Hayworth doll in her Gilda outfits or putting together their miniature Dior collections.
American illustrator Donald Hendricks, who specialized in fashion designs, was responsible for a series of paper dolls that are directly connected with a 1950s inspiration to put together these beautiful vintage pieces, which are shown bellow: Christian Dior, Grace Kelly, Rita Hayworth, an adorable Frida Kahlo and even Hillary Clinton.
And as there is nothing stopping us from starting our own collection, there are several catalogues with dozens of themes at Amazon.com, I have also found these at Livraria Travessa for prices that are not as scary. To print, cut out and assemble your own paper doll, there is a gallery at the paperdoll.com website, with drawings by Donald Hendricks of several real and fictional characters. Perfect for the days when your hands and scissors are feeling particularly creative.
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