I was in the middle of writing the Final Gala post when the Final Dolly Days Email came, and I knew right then and there that I HAD to stop everything I was doing and talk about Adèle instead. This is completely new in Fashion Royalty history, and I’m glad to see it happen!
Over the years the facemold changes have been a constant polemic for FR collectors. Most of the FR and some Nu Face have suffered at least one change along the years since Modern Comeback Veronique, the first 2.0 mold doll came to be. Some love the changes, some hate them. Names have been called, people have fought bitterly over this. I myself will always miss Colette 1.0, and to this day I can’t deal with Colette 2.0. She’s another doll as far as I’m concerned. But of all the changed dolls, ironically, Colette is the only one that I actually dislike. I’m one of those people who appreciates something in each facemold, and who hopes to see all of them from time to time and not just one of them all the time.
Add to that fact all the complaints I’ve done from a social and gender history point of view, having Nu Face Heirloom Collection as my starting point, about how naturalized are the ways in which society views women of color as over-sexualized creatures, and uses those views to sell a stereotype and body image and all sorts of products along with it, and you’ll get how happy I am about this giftset.
In a bold move, designer Jessy Ayala embraced all of Adèle’s facemolds, and used them to build the narrative he called “The Faces Of Adèle”, which can be read both literally, and as different moments of the same woman – exactly as I mentioned I wanted to see when I talked about Nadja back in my Heirloom Collection review. This is groundbreaking on so many levels. First because it’s a bold statement and a declaration of love over something people declared war about. Second, because the narrative built is aesthetically powerful and beautiful, and it’s a first in the doll collecting world. It carries the kind of message I hoped to see attached to a doll of color as a miniature representation of a modern woman. Jessy’s Adèle changes, as we all do, and expresses her power and sensuality in more than one way than just the usual one – the lingerie look.
So, shall we take a good look at each of Adèle’s faces? First, her tech specs:
Pricing: $200.00 US + S & H per Gift Set
(Limit of One Per W Club Membership)
Doll Tech Specs:
Head Sculpts: Adèle 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 (All Three Included!)
Body: One FR 6.0 Complete Body + 1 FR 6.0 Bust + 1 NU. Face 3.0 Bust
Foot Sculpt: Traditional High-Heeled Feet
Skin Tone: A-Tone
Hair Color: Raven (V. 1.0), Blond (V. 2.0) and Dark Brunette (V. 3.0)
Eyelashes: Yes, Hand-applied (on All Three Sculpts)
Quickswitch: Yes (Switchable at the Torso Level, Not the Neck Knob)
Before we proceed to analyse look by look, I just wanted to call the attention to this technical novelty, which is the dolls being offered with bust pieces, and the “Quickswitch” feature being moved from neck to underbust joint. We’ve seen this for the first time with “Sleeping Beauty” Nadja at Convention, and apparently it might as well become the norm, considering Adèle is being offered to an even wider audience with the same feature. This excerpt comes from the email itself:
Adèle 1.0 sculpt opened the photoshoot and made a strong first impression. I love how many paradigms Jessy and the IT team broke by saying that Adèle is the original chameleon of the Fashion Royalty line, and one of it’s pillars. Yes, of course she is, especially being a model. So, calling the attention to it, they equalled her with Barbie, whose many facemolds collectors tend to naturalize, while at the same time we bash each other in the head when an IT doll changes her face. The “Barbie” pink dress tends to reinforce the image.
Why is this important? Well, because Barbie is still the most famous doll in the world, and she is, traditionally, caucasian. So, in giving Adèle Barbie’s place in the FR line, designers are saying that this doll has what we (social scientists in general) call “agency”, which means she has different facets, moods and possibilities, and she’s not just there to fill in a quota. She’s more than “The Sexy Woman Of Colour”™. She’s more than a stereotype. More on agency here and here.
Ok IT, nice moving speech. Now, let’s see what her looks tell us about her, shall we?
To be very honest, this is my least favorite look. I like the cut, but I hate the color. Nice shoes though. And jewelry too. If she only came with this look and the lingerie, I’d be bored to death and still complaining. As I said, I like the cut. But it does nothing to dispel the stereotype on its own. However, with the inclusion of the second look, this first one can be seen in a different context, as one moment in a woman’s life, reproduced in miniature.
Now, this look provides context. I feel that Jessy worked as a costume designer here, and not just as a fashion designer. Which is amazing if we consider these dolls were characters, with defined storylines that used to come in storycards before they were extinct. The sexy is still there, in the way the print delineates her curves. But it’s a high necked dress, suitable for daywear. And she rocks it along with one of the most beautiful afro hairs IT has ever presented to date. It’s a refined, elegant and sultry look, that shows Adèle as an effortlessly elegant, sophisticated woman, and that breaks the mold in which the still racist post-slavery world encased women of color in spite of who they are, trying to take away their agency by selling them the stereotype back to make it the norm.
The three facemolds put together, each with their own hair and make up choices, along with the two dresses and lingerie transform Adèle from the miniaturized commecrcial reproduction of a stereotype into the miniaturized commercial version of an empowered woman, who has agency – i.e. acts and makes conscious choices for herself in spite of the social limits that would constrict her into a stereotype and then praise her for being only just what’s expected of her. That’s where merchandize and gender politics come together. It was ill done with Nadja, but well done with Adèle.
Now, putting the social scientist glasses aside, and looking at her as a collector, I miss bags with the giftset. A clutch for the evening and a nice sleek day bag for the white dress. All the three heads are beautiful. I love especially the 2.0 and 3.0 molds. All in all I like her jewelry, especially the bold pieces that come with the evening look. Now, isn’t something missing in this review?
I’m pretty sure when I released the post on the Heirloom Collection, I might have given a few people the impression that I don’t like lingerie, even though I’m pretty sure I said in the post that I have nothing against it. So, let me address this again one last time. I LOVE lingerie. Especially when it comes with other pieces of clothing and it’s not associated with a stereotype I study and dislike. That’s why Nadja didn’t come home, but Adèle surely will. I think I can’t get much clearer than that.
As a matter of fact, one of the things that made me happier about Adèle IS the lingerie. Because she comes with not one but two beautiful bras. A strapless one (above) and this one below:
Which means, since one of the busts is Nu Face and the other is FR2, both versions were contemplated. It’s the kind of thoughtfulness that I appreciate. All the lingerie included is beautiful, and I know my dolls will look stunning in it!
Another novelty they introduced is that Adèle will also have blushed nipples, which are something we only got from repaint artists up to now. These look photoshopped, but I believe the actual doll will look better. IT didn’t include this photo on the email, but posted it on the Forum. Well, this is an adult, feminist and pro #freethenipple blog, but if you’re at work you might wanna scroll down fast or skip the photo below. Don’t say I didn’t warn you! Not Safe For Work (NSFW) content below:
So, all in all, Adèle is a work of art. The points I’d raise about this giftset are:
1 – Positive: The giftset is not only a declaration of love and a forward step into appreciating all the different facemolds a same doll might have, but also a lovely and artistic miniature of an empowered woman. IT has managed to bring an updated and sensitive approach to what it is to be a woman in this giftset, with different clothes for different moments, and sexuality being presented in different ways to escape the stereotype, which gives the character Adèle Makèda agency, i.e. choice of presenting herself in different styles and a sense that she has moods and needs and wants. Bravo!
It also counts and it’s lovely that Adèle, who had never been featured in these special editions – whether they are Club Exclusives, Lottery dolls or Being THE Convention Doll – has finally gotten a well deserved homage! That’s not to be confused with the next point, but I gotta raise it anyway…
(In the interest of clarity there has been an update in the paragraph above. Becca Garbo on Facebook called my attention to the fact I had typed that Adèle had never been a Centerpiece before, which was a ridiculous mistake on my part, since I was writing about Frosted Glamour Adèle – who was the latest Convention’s last Centerpiece – when I got Adèle’s email. I apologize to Becca and everyone for my mistake, and i the interest of adding further depth to the debate, I’ll add her comment as is, in italics below:
“I can’t believe I didn’t know your blog. What a great review. Usually, they are about fashion and style, yours is from a social scientist’s point of view and it’s truly fascinating to read.
I’ve been a FR collector since day 1, so 2001/2002. Adèle Makéda has always been my favorite character in the collection so I am overjoyed she’s at last a W club exclusive doll.
Allow me to correct a few details please. Adèle appeared a couple times, yet rarely, as convention exclusives. First in 2004 at the IFDC, Flawless Glow gift set (companion doll?), then as the beautiful MFD/ 1st FR convention as a centerpiece, Miss Royaltini. It’s true that we had to wait 10 years to be offered the gorgeous Le Smoking Adèle as a convention souvenir doll. Following in 2015, we got Time and Again Adèle as a centerpiece doll. I bought her but I understand she is not popular… I like her. And yes, recently, another centerpiece, Frosted Glamour.
Needless to say, I have all the Adèle that were produced, sometimes twice, especially 1.0 and 2.0.”
Becca’s comment led me to a bigger reflection, which I intended to post here, along with tabs and pictures. But then I simply realised that the result is too big to fit in this post without making the readers confused. It would take the writing in a deeper dive, and going back to what was originally written would require a full rewrite of the ending, which I simply can’t do right now, with all that I have to do and the Holidays upon us. But I will work on it, and I intend to tackle it as soon as I can. In the meantime, I would also ask your collaboration: If you have photos, especially of the older Adèles, and you would like to see them here in the blog, please contact me through our Facebook Page, It will be a pleasure to post them with due credits to you all, and it will also help me make the blog better for everyone.
2 – Neutral: In order to complete the narrative we now need giftsets in the same style for the caucasian dolls too, with lingerie, plenty of sexy, nipples and all. Because it all comes down to the fact that in the end, Adèle, like Nadja, is a doll of color. The first step has been given – and what a step it is! But we feel that it would be just as lovely to see the sexy aspects explored in caucasian characters in the same manner they are in colored characters. I know there are giftsets for the caucasian girls already, so I’m not simply requesting more of those. I’m talking about portraying these characters in a different light, just as it has been just done with Adèle.
When we get what I’m gonna call “White Girl Giftsets”™, we usually get two very chic and done up outfits – but neither of them being necessarily sexy – and a lingerie. Or sometimes – looking at you Optic Verve Agnes, In Bloom Vanessa, and some others – we don’t get the lingerie at all, and no hint of sexy as it is explored in the dolls of color. We would like to see the division between sexy and classy – subordinated as it has been to a racial spectrum – disappear. As I said before, Adèle is an amazing first step in that direction. We will be waiting anxiously to see what’s next.
3 – Negative: The price. A few months ago we paid US$199 for two complete dressed dolls with jewelry and bags in the “Poetic Beauty” giftset. Now, we’re asked to pay US$200 for one dressed doll with jewelry but no bag, two heads and busts, another dress with jewelry but no bag, and a lingerie set with a pair of pumps, and we’re told that to complete the dolls we gotta pay an extra US$30 for the two pairs of arms, legs and lower torsos, which puts the total giftset price in US$230. Such a high price is a first for IT, as is Adèle as a club exclusive. Still, in the end, it’s 3 dolls for 230. Could be worse.
All in all, I’m very happy that Adèle is finally a Club Exclusive doll, an honor long overdue, since she’s the first doll of color to reach this position – and that in a company which claims to be diverse and to take diversity seriously. I think they’ve given a first step into making things more equal. The future will tell if they’ll keep going or not, but today I am very happy with Integrity Toys. Again, Bravo!
As always, I hope you’ll like the review! Please let us know your thoughts! We’d love to hear them!