Friday, May 17, 2013

Spring Cotillion

I started reading Regency romances after devouring every Jane Austen novel I could find.  Following in Austen’s footsteps, Georgette Heyer and Clare Darcy created a glittering world of impeccably dressed lords and ladies who carried on their courtship primarily through witty repartee. 

In those old fashioned, “sweet” romances, the hero and heroine never kissed until the final pages when they were safely engaged.  Deserving country misses always had benevolent aunts to transform them into diamonds of the first water and present them to the ton (the upper 10,000 families of Britain).  A young woman had to be careful not to dance the waltz until the patronesses of Almack’s had approved her, and even then she couldn’t dance more than two dances with the same man unless their engagement announcement had appeared in the society pages.  If she played her cards right, though, the demure debutante might end up with a duke.

In the real world, the closest I got to a debutante ball was attending the Chicago Links annual cotillion in 1985.  I spent that summer with my father’s cousin who was a mentor to me like the chaperones who steered the heroines of my favorite novels through the marriage mart.  My Cousin Esther procured tickets to the cotillion for us and then bought me a dress and a fancy pair of designer shoes to wear that evening.  

The Links, Inc. has been a sisterhood of African American professional women dedicated to community service since 1946.  Indeed over the years chapters have required their cotillionettes to complete up to 75 hours of service as part of their debutante experience.  Links chapters traditionally organized professional and personal development workshops for their cotillionettes on topics such as Public Speaking, CPR Training, and Preparing for College.  The annual cotillions were major fund-raisers that enabled the Links to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars for scholarships and other community programs. 

Today, only a few Links chapters are still hosting cotillions, but the organization as a whole is still preparing young women and men to take their places as community leaders.  It therefore seemed natural to me to imagine the SIS girls as cotillionettes in the Links tradition since the SIS girls devote so much time to mentoring youth.  So here they are dancing the Cotillionette Waltz.

The Links cotillions were formal dinner dances.  The cotillionnettes wore white formal gowns, and medium heeled white pumps. 

They also wore long white gloves.

Unfortunately,  I didn’t have enough gloves to go around. 

Instead,  after acquiring the Disney Fairy Tale Wedding gift set, I decided to give the cotillion a fairy tale fantasy theme with the escorts dressed as princes. 

Kara is dancing with King Dominick from the Princess and the Pauper series.

Her empire waist gown and his spencer coat and buff breeches evoke the styles of the Regency era.

Kara’s dress was from a Disney Store fashion pack while Dominick sports Prince Adam’s outfit from the Fairy Tale Wedding gift set.  

Trichelle’s partner is a Brad doll from the early 80s.

Brad was introduced as the boyfriend of Barbie’s black friend, Christie in the late 1960s.  While the first African American Barbie was introduced in 1980, black male dolls were very hard to find in the Reagan years.  I was overjoyed when I purchased this fellow around 1982.  I named him Yannick after the French tennis player, Yannick Noah.

Trichelle and Yannick’s outfits are from the Cinderella and Prince Charming wedding set.

I acquired Marissa’s handsome cavalier at a doll show.

I believe he is a Curtis (Brad’s successor).

His military-styled formal wear comes from the Princess Ariel and Prince Eric wedding set.

Marissa’s family could not afford a brand-name dress for her, but Curtis thinks she is the most fascinating woman in the ballroom.

Before the SIS line, Mattel created an earlier set of African American friends for Barbie – Shani, Asha, and Nichelle.

Jamal was Shani's boyfriend but since he is whispering sweet nothings in Chandra’s ear here, he seems to have moved on.

Jamal looks very dapper in Prince Eugene’s ensemble from the Fairy Tale Wedding gift set while Chandra opted for Cinderella’s pure white gown.

Grace partnered with Cali Girl Steven.

She is wearing Princess Belle’s gown from the Fairy Tale Wedding gift set while Steven is wearing Prince Charming’s ensemble.

Of course I wanted to attend the cotillion myself so my Chic Boutique doll avatar is swirling in the arms of my favorite Power Team guy.

My gown was on the Rapunzel doll in the Fairy Tale Wedding gift set.

My escort is very debonair in a Prince Charming ensemble from the late 90s. 

None of the current Prince and Princess outfits are as well made as this old chestnut, and the dolls in these wedding sets all have stiff legs.  It would be nice if Tiana and Prince Naveen had been included in one of these wedding sets since little brown girls need to see that they are as worthy of being courted and cherished as anyone else.   Still, with a 20% off coupon, the clothes alone made this Fairy Tale Wedding gift set a dream come true.

À Bientôt

Friday, May 10, 2013

Office Hours

"Good morning Dr. Higgenbotham, I was hoping you could help me re-organize my paper like you said in your comments."

"Yes, of course Tariq.  Have a seat and let's take a look."

"O.k.  We've got some typos and small grammar mistakes that you know how to fix, but the main problem is you don't state your thesis until the very end.  Would you get on a bus if you didn't know where it was going?"


"Same with your readers.  They won't follow your argument very far if you don't tell them where you're going in the beginning.  Let's just move this last sentence up to the first paragraph and see how things flow from there."

"I look forward to reading your revised draft next week."

 "So I added the new data to this figure like you said.  Do you think that will make it easier for the audience to understand my conclusions?"

"Yes Li Shang, I think that will work well."

"I'm so nervous about this presentation.  I want everything to be perfect."

"The CAAA international convention doesn't accept just anybody.  The fact that you got a paper accepted there is a real feather in your cap.  You'll do fine."

"That young man is going places!  He's the best graduate student I've seen in twenty years."

"Knock, knock.  Remember me, Dr. Higgenbotham?"

"Ah yes, Olu.  What can I do for you?"

"Well, I'm planning to apply to graduate school and I was hoping you would write a letter of recommendation for me."

"My pleasure Olu.  Just send me your statement of purpose and let me know when the deadlines are."

"You wanted to see me, Professor?"

"Yes Steven.  Have a seat."

"I watched you in the play offs last week so I know you didn't have much time to work on that last paper."

"So I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you didn't realize that copying and pasting from Wikipedia is plagiarism."

Steven finds he can't meet Professor Higgenbotham's eyes.  "I didn't mean to do anything wrong, sir."

"Well don't every do anything that stupid again.  Do you realize you could be benched and lose your scholarship for that kind of academic dishonesty?"

"I'm sorry, sir.  Thank you for giving me another chance."

"Time to go home!"

 "Excuse me, Profesor, do you have a minute?"

"Actually I need to get home, Tommy."

"But I will walk with you to the parking lot.  What's on your mind?"

All of the fashions featured in this photo story are from One Direction dolls.  Although these ensembles fit a variety of male fashion dolls, our favorite Power Team action figures are too broad shouldered to wear the tops.  They can, however, wear the pants.

À Bientôt

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Beach Bummin'

Finals are over so the lads have headed to the beach to celebrate the end of their first year in college.

 Zayne lobs the frisbee and Justin and Chad reach to catch it.

Only somebody else got there first.

 Good girl!

Talking Justin Bieber and Concert Collection One Direction dolls have the same articulated body.  They can kneel and assume many other poses that are beyond poor High School Musical Chad.  Mattel did not endow Chad with a belly button, but Justin and Zayne both have outies.  Push Justin's and he speaks 12 different phrases.  Push Zayne's and he sings "What Makes You Beautiful."

Meanwhile Harry and Video Collection Harry are taking a dip.

Video Collection Harry is feeling very pale.

He hopes he can get a nice tan like first wave Harry.

Back on shore, war has broken out and Zayne is taking no prisoners.
"Don't shoot me, Zayne.  I'm your cousin!"

"What's the point of being at the beach if you don't get wet, Malik?"

"Well, when you put it that way..."

"Last one in is a rotten egg!"

The original series of One Direction dolls had stiff legs.  The Video and Spotlight collection dolls also have stiff legs.  Hasbro updated the face molds after the first wave, but I still don't think they do justice to these young men.  Fortunately, for the Concert series our teen idols got articulated ankles and knees that enable them to assume more active poses.

Justin bounces the ball off his knee.

Liam catches it with his shoulder and lobs it back.

Justin returns the volley with his elbow.

But Liam gets the last laugh with a head butt.

 "I just need to catch my breath for a minute," pants Justin.  "Liam really gave me a workout!"

 "In that case it's important to stay hydrated," says Tommy (Fashionista Ken).  "Bottoms up!"
Ken's legs are longer, but Bieber and One Direction pants are cut long so Ken can share them.  Their feet are close to the same size so they can trade shoes as well. 

After a long day of sun and fun, Zayne takes a siesta while Tommy noodles on his guitar.

"Supper time!" calls Justin.

Louis, however, is the type who never wants to get out of the water.

 À Bientôt