As a child my grandmother had a huge collection of dolls. They were placed throughout the one-bedroom apartment – children in bonnets, little Indian girls with feather headdresses, Betty Boop in a shimmery green dress and molded plastic hair. When she died, I inherited them – a china Cinderella, a porcelain ballerina, and a girl with kitten in a basket. Until I was nineteen, my doll collection sat, watchful and untouched, on a high bookshelf. In an effort to ‘de-clutter’, I carefully wrapped them in tissue paper and packed them away. One doll, Cinderella, still stands silent and still on my altar, where she observes the light changing through lace curtains.
Dolls are something long associated with lolitas – perhaps because we desire to emulate them, or because they are often in the company of a lolita. Many girls choose to dress their dolls in lolita, either to keep them at home for display, to play and photograph them, or to accompany them to meetups.
I’ve always loved little things – for years I was the only child I knew with a shadowbox, filled with little figurines – a fairy in a cup, pink Victorian boots, tiny doll’s dishes with minuscule knives and forks, and pewter castles and unicorns. Sometimes I played with them – told little stories about them, silently, but mostly I just enjoyed feeling their small nooks and carved-out manes. I hadn’t added to my collection in a long time when I discovered Re-ment – detailed, exact Japanese replicas of food. My collection boasts a candy shop set, a few French chocolatiers, a heart-shape waffles set, a three-tier birthday cake, and a s’mores set. While hunting around the Internet for more, I found out exactly who these tiny feasts were for – and dolls started creeping back into my life.
There are many types of dolls available on the market today, and not just your usual collector’s doll. I’m mostly drawn to Asian-produced dolls. Most of these dolls are BJDs (or ball-jointed dolls, which is how they are so articulated), the most popular being from the company Volks, with the models Super Dollfie and Mini Super Dollfie. But what I am most drawn to are Pullips and Blythes (not really considered BJDs by the circles in the know, but made with similar joints). They are small dolls, only about the size of a typical Barbie, with delicate bodies and hugely disproportionate heads – a pop-art modern style I love. But there is something about them that appeals to me – and quite a few other lolitas, it seems! Here are a few snaps of lolitas with their similarly-dressed Blythes or Pullips.
There have even been several dolls created by Pullip and brand collaborations. Innocent World and Angelic Pretty both came out with several dolls created by Jun Planning (the brand who creates Pullip). Some are available for purchase to the public, others seem to be just for shows or for the brand’s personal use.
And Pullips and Blythes are moderately customizable! While Dollfies and other larger, more elaborate BJDs can have intricately painted faces and oodles of customizations, these dolls can mostly have their eye chips (eye color) and wigs changed. Here is a Maretti (Angelic Pretty x Dal – see how it’s a miniature version of Wonder Party, even with the golden fork and spoon?!) doll with a gorgeous diamond-blonde wig and bright jewel-green eyes. See more of her at this lovely doll blog, Toxic Mushroom! It makes me wonder how else you could customize a Pullip or Blythe to fit your lolita style. Unlike some dolls, their faces come already painted and made up, so you can play with them as-is or with more customization.