A Rather Weary Doll – Robert Tonner’s Ellowyne Wilde

Ellowyne Wilde dollsEllowyne Wilde is a doll with attitude, a world-weary doll with an unusual take on fashion. There is something about Ellowyne’s languid, lazy, rather bored approach to life which makes me smile. And many of her costumes are stunning – though what else would you expect when they are designed by American doll artist Robert Tonner, as is Ellowyne herself? The Ellowyne Wilde doll stands 16 inches high, and has 12 points of articulation. She is made of a high quality vinyl with rooted saran hair and hand-painted features, although recently a few dolls have appeared featuring inset eyes. Ellowyne wears unusual designer clothing made from top quality fabrics, and is a very pretty doll with a wistful face. She was launched in October 2006 into an unsuspecting doll community who sensed here was something different, a bit special. As her in-depth website explains, ‘Along with her unique fashion sense, she suffers from chronic ennui (a feeling of weariness and dissatisfaction – hence the therapy sessions), reads Sylvia Plath, writes poetry, believes you are what you eat so enjoys whipped cream and Nasturtiums; and lives in a stately Victorian home in San Francisco, which sits on a fault line.’

Ellowyne Wilde collection

Her tongue-in-cheek website is a joy, littered with our ennui-sufferer’s poems and comments. It points out, ‘She’s ready to conquer the doll world – if only she had the energy’. Here, you can read about her in-depth therapy sessions where, ‘With boredom as her greatest foe, she wallows in a sense of woe’. Ellowyne doesn’t seem to mind that her therapy sessions are shared on her website for all to see, because ‘I’m just too tired to worry about it,’ is what she might say to critics.’

Robert Tonner, who based his creation on anime drawings, designer shoe ads, and eclectic fashion art, says, ‘She’s different from anything I’ve ever designed before. I think she speaks to everyone’s darker brooding side.’ Hmm, well, it could be dark and brooding, or it could just be that she needs a good telling off and a gentle push to get her on her feet! Whatever, Ellowyne’s costumes are stunning. The basic doll line comes wearing her underclothes, and the three available hair colours are blonde, brunette and auburn. As well as the rooted hair types, wigged versions are available, and there are numerous wigs in zany colours from green to purple and pink to plum, to give Ellowyne a totally new look (and maybe shock her from her boredom!). Dolls can be bought ready dressed, while, in addition, there is a good selection of outfits and separates to suit her in a vast range of styles, from demure to freaky. Amongst the dressed dolls, ‘Red, White and Very Blue’ is a stripy blue and white sweater dress with a matching hat, blue striped stocking and scarlet shoes and bag, while ‘I Wait Alone’ is a very pretty white lace dress trimmed with white ribbons, worn over a spotted dress.

‘I look around my house divine Old clocks, antiques, and things that shine; It seems the clocks they tick and moan A lonely song – I wait alone.’

In ‘Tarnished’ Ellowyne wears an appliqued organza tiered skirt and a knitted jacket with fabric flowers. She has sparkly stockings and ribbon tied pink shoes, while in ‘Invisible Ink’ she has a full tulle black skirt, black jacket top, white jumper, masses of jewellery and long sneaker boots. Ellowyne’s ‘Tatters’ outfit is a dusky pink shirred skirt and a ribbon woven top, with lots of hanging pieces of fabric to reflect the name.

Ellowyne, though languid, has found the energy to make friends. Her best friend is Prudence Moody. Prudence has, apparently, ‘an upbeat mood, and is the bright spot in Ellowyne’s sometimes woeful life. With her undeveloped psychic sense, and her own unique fashion style, it’s no wonder she and Ellowyne are best friends’. Prudence has several outfits of her own, and she can wear Ellowyne’s things too. One of the prettiest Prudence dolls is ‘ESPecially Prudence’, who has auburn hair with pink streaks, and wears a tiered skirt, tulle underskirt, white t-shirt, plaid silk jacket, tights, knit hat, short lace-up boots and beaded jewellery, all in shades of lavender, pink and plum. Other Prudence dolls include a blonde version, called ‘C’est La Vie’, wearing a print floral dress, black shrug, boots and a large floppy beret. Prudence also indirectly gives rise to one of my favourite dolls – Ellowyne Wilde wearing ‘Prudence Dressed Me’, which has Ellowyne forsaking her frills and wispy look for a black wig, clashing multicoloured mini dress and black and white stripy sleeves and socks – completely out of her comfort zone!

Recently another friend has appeared, Amber, who has apparently been Ellowyne’s ‘frienemy’ since childhood – lots of rivalry there. ‘Essential Amber-Wigged Out’ comes complete with two wigs, and a two-piece outfit. There is also a male doll, Rufus Rutter. Apparently, Rufus is the young handyman who works for Ellowyne’s grandmother, and he harbours feelings of unrequited love for Ellowyne, writing melancholy poems in the hope of winning her heart. Of course, Ellowyne is so busy being languid, that she doesn’t notice she has a suitor, especially one whose ‘heart is filled with pain’. Rufous, 17 inches tall, can be obtained in skinny black jeans, white t-shirt, button down shirt and grey hoodie, and can also be bought more smartly dressed, on his way to woo Ellowyne, in a raincoat and black trousers, carrying an umbrella, flowers and box of chocolates.

As previously mentioned, outfits can be purchased separately for the Ellowyne Wilde dolls; amongst them such creations as ‘Somewhere Under the Rainbow’ (pleated skirt, gloriously patterned velvet long-sleeved top, purple tights and gold boots) and ‘She Wallows in White’, a satin outfit with a magnificent large brimmed hat, reminiscent of the 1930s. ‘Royal Blues’ is a long belted leather-look jacket and printed skirt, ‘Winter Blahs’ has a fur-lined coat, shaggy fur boots, stripy top and short skirt, while ‘Disenchantment’ – a beige/gold gauzy, filmy long dress and shawl liberally covered with flowers – gives rise to my favourite Ellowyne verse:

Disenchantment follows me Around the house like misery; My hopes may rise but always fall (sigh)…why bother getting dressed at all?

The final range in the Ellowyne Wilde line are the separates, which include such delights as ribbon-ruffled blouses, long tiered floaty skirts, pretty long-sleeved floral mini dresses, stretch tops, tights and shoes. Separates are a good way of building up Ellowyne’s wardrobe as you can add just one item at a time, and can mix and match to obtain all kinds of looks. A dressed doll will probably cost you around £100–£140, and a basic doll around £70. Boxed outfits start from £60, while separates are £20 upwards. So, back to Ellowyne for a final few words on her favourite subject – herself:

Scanty clothes and cheerful grin Are not the style of Ellowyne. My eyes are lustrous, large and deep Chopin always makes me weep.

Boredom is my greatest foe I wallow in a well of woe. Flowers, lace, and frippery Help save me from my great ennui.

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