Three Ballerina Boudoir Dolls, 1920s
The notoriously dubbed “roaring 20s” marked a vibrant shift in fashion trends and, thus symbiotically, the social scenes of both Europe and the United States. Suppressed alcohol regulations encouraged an underworld of rebellion and exploration. Shoes gained inches to highlight dresses cropped short of the ankle. Sleeveless dresses with plunging necklines accentuated the daring “bob” hairstyle. Bee-stung lips in deep hues of reds and purples accompanied elaborated costume jewelry. Silent films and photographic tabloids were revolutionary in informing the mass public of the latest crazes and took much credit for the changing times. They illuminated the faces of the new generation and worked to inspire the newfound freedom.
The boudoir doll grew in popularity around 1920. Owned by young women between late teenage years and early 30s, these dolls were not made for play. Instead, they sat on the bed or lounge couch of the young lady. Boudoir dolls were typically larger than others, ranging from twenty to thirty inches from toe to head. They were dressed in sumptuous attire that reflected the swankiest styles of the elite. Women tended to their dolls as cherished children, combing their hair and redressing them as fashions changed. Boudoir dolls served to symbolize the new modes of dress while simultaneously marking the glamorous personal style of their owners.
The three ballerina boudoir dolls in the Museum of Texas Tech collection were made in France in the 1920s. They have entirely cloth bodies, silk-woven hair strands and minutely hand-painted faces. Their dresses form tulip shapes of faded pink and yellow linen. These dolls mark the popularity of the ballet in the early 20th century as a “see and be seen” social function. Moreover, they accentuate their owner’s informed and stylish taste.