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Blogazine

BillyBoy* Part Deux

Carlos King

In 1997, BillyBoy* and Lala JP Lestrade create the Fondation Tanagra, a cultural, non-profit Fondation association based in Switzerland. Its goals are the preservation and conservation of BillyBoy*'s high fashion collection and fashion documentation, as well as a vast ensemble of fashion dolls and antique doll’s houses and toys. The Fondation Tanagra also promotes contemporary artists works such as Jean Marc Dallanégra and TV star turned painter Eve Plumb (BB*'s great friend) star of the iconic “Brady Bunch” television series in the USA in the 1970s. The Fondation Tanagra holds important archives and extensive collection of Mdvanii and family dolls and artworks by BillyBoy* and Lala.

BillyBoy* and Lala organize at Le Palace in Lausanne en 1998 and at Hotel Beau Rivage Palace in 1999 two exhibitions of couture jewelry and Surreal Bijoux by BillyBoy* to the benefit of the newly created Fondation Tanagra. At the Beau Rivage, American artist Eve Plumb, friend of BB* and Lala presented for the first time in Switzerland her paintings which were also featured in the Fondation Tanagra's site.

1998- 2000: Hardly installed in their new home  BillyBoy* and Lala pursue an active creation in the world of Mdvanii. Between 1997 and 2000 several important collections are created which mark a turning point in the evolution of Mdvanii and her tribe. Her influence is strongly felt amongst the arts and also amongst doll collectors, both commercial manufacturers and hobbyists/copyists. Mdvanii influences an entire generation of people interested in dolls. For the first time also five Mademoiselle Mdvanii, the 70 centimeters version in porcelain, are shown in Tokyo (1998), followed by several other exhibitions: "Teenage" (1998), "Is The Doll World Ready For A Little Discipline?"(1998, shown on the site) (1998), "Intro Spectrum" (2000) with several other limited series exclusive to SW Japan.

In 2000-2001, the artists had an exposition at the most important Science Fiction museum in the world, La Maison d’Ailleurs in Yverdon-Les-Bains, Switzerland titled “Mdvanii, Memories from Earth - The artworks of BillyBoy* and Lala". It was curated by the museum's chief curator, historian and author, Patrick Gyger, also the artists friend. This important exhibition features the most recent futuristic Mdvanii artworks (photography, paintings, drawings and sculptures) as well as BillyBoy*’s early works (Mister Modern collages, and paintings). It is also the first time that the Mdvanii work is acknowledged as the osmosis work of BillyBoy* and Lala. 

The book by Archipel published by the University of Lausanne titled “Homographies” includes “Cut Grass” a short story by BillyBoy* (story on this website under ARTICLES). The book's cover features a drawing by BillyBoy*, homoerotic in subject, it was a drawing that was shown at La Maison d'Ailleurs titled "Two Boys Adopting a Meta-Form".

2003 : Exhibition titled “25 Portraits de Femmes” by BillyBoy* in Tokyo, Japan. 

Creation for the Swiss fashion magazine EDELWEISS of an monthly exclusive limited series of friendly-priced Surreal Bijoux de BillyBoy* for 18 months, to the benefit of the Fondation Tanagra. The creation proposed in the month preceeding the declaration of war in Iraq by George Bush is a silvered skull ring with a "NO" sign hanging from a cord. This controversial, but publically approved gesture received great publicity in the media.

2004: exhibition “Poupées” at La Halle Saint Pierre museum in Paris: 100 pieces of BillyBoy* & Lala art works and creations are featured in the exhibition, including: Mdvanii, Zibbi, Mademoiselle Rivière, La Petite fille modèle, as well as photographs and paintings. The exhibition book/catalogue titled “Poupées” (Albums Haute Enfance, Gallimard, Paris) includes texts by writers Martine Desbioles, Colette Fellous, Pierre Péju, Chantal Thomas, Allen S. Weiss.

2005: BillyBoy* writes a series of short stories illustrated by oil crayon drawings titled “Liquid Screen in 19 Short Stories” which are published in book form with illustrations using his paintings.

In 2005 also:  exhibition Cyber Sexual Mdvanii and the Temples of Fusion” at the Galerie Le Déco in Tokyo. Publication by the Editions Fondation Tanagra of the limited-edition four books boxed giftset “Temples de Fusion” including “Liquid Screen In 19 Short Stories” (Limited edition 250 examples).

2006: BillyBoy* finally finishes his long-time research book on the life and work of Elsa Schiaparelli. This book includes his experiences with Marlene Dietrich, Arletty, Erté, Suzy de L’Air, Annabella, Diego Giacometti, Jean Schlumberger, Givenchy and many other French designers, and many other important celebrities he’d befriended over the years.

 

November 2006 - February 2007, exhibition Mdvanii, Ceci n’est pas une poupée” . Artworks by BillyBoy* and Lala in two different museums of Lausanne: the mudac (museum of Design and Contemporary Arts) - the small "m" is deliberate in spelling the name of this acknowledged museum) and Musée de l’Elysée (the world-famous photography museum). The 80-page catalogue called "BillyBoy" & Lala" featuring the two exhibitions, with interview of the artists, a BB* short story from "Liquid Screen in 19 Short Stories", list of all the artworks in both exhibitions, many colour illustrations and texts by the museums curators is published by In Folio, Editeur, Paris.

 

2007: in July, "Out of the Blue" Cyber Sexual Mdvanii exhibition at the Gallery Le Déco presented by Sumiko Watanabe.

 

BillyBoy* and Lala, with the sponsorship of The Fondation Tanagra, are associated to the Lausanne Underground Film & Music Festival (L.U.F.F.) for their special 2007 Edition featuring movies from the Andy Warhol's Factory Era: With exceptional appearances of Superstars Holly Woodlawn accompanied by Robert Coddington (who both lived with BB* & Lala while they were in Switzerland), Mary WoronovBibbe Hansen with the participation of BillyBoy*(Warhol’s "last Superstar" by Warhol's own declaration). They gave lectures and a conference together on their Warhol years at the infamous Factory. All of this was captured on film for an up-coming full-length documentary on Mdvanii, and the work and careers of BillyBoy* and Lala, and also another for Swiss television and the internet, filmed at the same time.

BillyBoy* & Lala invented back in 1989 a new artistic concept: the MDVANIIISM. Mdvanii, the doll artwork once defined as a "Sculpture With A Lifestyle" has been portrayed since her conception and creation, through many different artistic mediums: doll artworks of course, but also photography, paintings, drawings, installations, literature, poetry. 

 

 

A MDVANIIISM is a creative process which includes in his realisation the spirit of Mdvanii at large and, just as any artistic movement defined by an ISM (impressionism, cubism, surrealism), Mdvanii has achieved her own ISM. Thusly, a sculpture shaped, as we are going to see, as a house on Mdvanii's scale, is not a doll house for Mdvanii, but an artistic form linked, in one way or another, to Mdvanii: a Mdvaniiism is an independant artwork which expresses the essence of Mdvanii without needing her material representation for it .

2008: In January  BillyBoy* et Lala celebrate at Studios Dinemec in Gland (Switzerland) the release of Lala's album "Succès damnés - The Lost Album" and the release of the video of his song "Edie Superstar". Sponsored by Dom Perignon champagne, the best champagne in the world!

Also in January, BillyBoy* and Lala are featured in the issue N° 3 of the Lausanne-based magazine SANG BLEU, which also includes an article of BillyBoy* on Diamonds called "The Diamond and I"..

On the occasion of the March 13th 2008 Nuit du Quartier des Bains in Geneva, Switzerland, "Chez Soi, The Liquid Screen House of Tomorrow" Un Mdvaniiisme de BillyBoy* & Lala" in collaboration with furniture designer Philippe Cramer was shown at Cramer + Cramer, the designer's showroom. BillyBoy*'s paintings and sculptures were shown with the Mdvanii works as part of her world. The work represented two futuristic dolls houses conceived by BillyBoy*  modeled on his paintings and the designer created the interiors. One was called "Chez Soi - Jour" and the other "Chez Soi - Nuit".

2009: In March 2009, BillyBoy* & Lala did three performances at Flux Laboratory, Carouge, Geneva. The exhibition was called "IDENTITY: WAS BILLYBOY* BARBIE'S BE-ATCH?" 

Read more about it on Mdvanii Wikipedia.

 

2010: BillyBoy* & Lala decide the creation of a new site for the Fondation Tanagra with webmaster and friend Thierry Hefti.

They realize the video "L'amour n'a pas de prix" with Erivan Dantas for a song from Lala's album, which features early Haute Couture Mdvanii resin dolls in the doll's house created by Jacques Grange for the BillyBoy*, Nouveau Théatre de la Mode. The video was launched at friend Diane Pernet's "A Shaded View on Fashion Film" film Festival. (see in MODE - Homage to Monsieur Yves Saint Laurent)

 

2011: In August, BillyBoy* & Lala leave the Canton de Vaud and chose the city of  Delémont, capital of the Republic and Canton of Jura in Switzerland. They chose this city to settle down and to work on their museum project.

Exhibition MDVANII, CECI N'EST PAS UNE POUPEE, BillyBoy* in the streets of Lausanne. Photo Lala, 1996

Exhibition MDVANII, CECI N'EST PAS UNE POUPEE, BillyBoy* in the streets of Lausanne. Photo Lala, 1996

For the re-opening of the historic museum of the city, Musée Jurassien d'Art et d'Histoire, BillyBoy* & Lala offer to the museum via the City's Mayor Pierre Kohler, the painting "Mdvanii Osmose".

2012: BillyBoy* & Lala  marry at the Hôtel de Ville of  Delémont on February 6, 2012. They are the first gay couple to make their union public in the Canton du Jura.

- Exhibition "Maison Mdvanii - Oeuvres choisies 1989-2012" at Espace Artsenal in Delémont (May 25-June 18: see on  www.fondationtanagra.com)

- BillyBoy* & Lala curate the exhibition of Aldo Lanzini at Galerie Bovée in Delémont June 1 to June 30 - See article in ART on www.fondationtanagra.com

- Creation of the three artworks in the form of wedding cakes called "Célébration" entirely in knit and crochet, with the collaboration of the ladies from the Café Tricot club of Delémont. These cakes were a highlight of the parade for the  Jura Gay Pride on June 30th in  Delémont (SEE article in CULTURE, www.fondationtanagra.com)

President Obama  "Once Cent - Big Change" : BillyBoy* & Lala have created an artwork in the form of a jewel to express their support for President Obama's views on Gay Marriage and same sex partnerships. His expression of equal rights for the LGBTQ community is a precedent in American history.

This jewel represents is the one cent copper coin magnified as a Pop art sized medaillion, on which the effigy of President Lincoln (which was also created by Billyboy* & Lala), known in history to have abolished slavery, has been replaced by the profile of President Obama, while the mention Liberty 1972, written on the original coin has been changed into Liberty 2012. Also featured in www.fonfationtanagra.com, in ART.

POUPEES, Halle Saint Pierre, Paris, one of the two posters,2004. With Mdvanii TRIBAL MUSK and DISCIPLINE.

POUPEES, Halle Saint Pierre, Paris, one of the two posters,2004. With Mdvanii TRIBAL MUSK and DISCIPLINE.

BillyBoy*

Carlos King

Of Austrian origin, born in the 1960s, BillyBoy* was an adopted child and grew up partially in the United States, partially in Europe. He went to the Montessori School in New York where he could express his instinctive creative sense: he became independent at the early age of 16. His first move was to open an alternative art gallery named Pizzaz Gallery in New York where he showed his own paintings and collages as well as other unknown artists works. Later he opened a decoration and art gallery on the West Coast, (in the famous art community of Newport, Oregon) promoting designs from the 1950s and 1960s as well as vintage clothes named Fly By Nite. At that time he had a modernist house filled with 50s designer furniture, a 1950 Cadillac and a modernistic studio to paint. Since a very early age he had a passion for fashion dolls, notably the Barbie doll, although he collected many others, all of which he collected thoroughly and with a feverish passion. He initiated the first US Barbie adult collector’s club. He also actively collected vintage fashions notably French haute couture garments and accessories with a predilection for Elsa Schiaparelli who he considers as his muse.

As a performance artist in these years he invented the character of Mister Modern, a post-modern dandy double who lives amongst 1950s artifacts and his own artworks. Mr Modern is the subject of various storyboards, photographs, super 8 short movies, early video (which was quite brand new at the time) and happenings, such as his "Science Fair of Art". Eclectic, BillyBoy* was also a model, he did many televison commercials for pop products such as soda, shampoo and toys. He’d model for designers of the era, but was a designer and did window performances, notably for Fiorucci in New York where Calvin Churchman, now vice-president of Ralph Lauren, gave him his first painting show.

In the mid 1970s, BillyBoy* opened his own alternative couture house in his Art Deco filled apartment on Park Avenue named Surreal Couture. His daringly stylish and eccentric fashions give tribute to Surrealism and of course Schiaparelli. He also designed jewelery, in opposite styles such as constructivist and a lavish new baroque idiom. His designs are regularly featured in the fashion press, notably WOMEN’S WEAR DAILY. He was encouraged by Diana Vreeland (he was her protégé) and Jean Druesedow who incorporated a large selection of his fashions and jewels in the permanent collection of the fashion department (called The Costume Institute) of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City.

 

Actuel-2.jpg

 

Bonjour Paris!

In 1979, BillyBoy* took the decision to leave New York and moved to Paris. Preceeded by his reputation as an artist and designer and his eccentric looks, he was welcomed at his arrival on his Concorde flight to Paris by a TV crew and journalists. The immensely snobbish and trendy French magazine ACTUEL published a 14-page cover story article about him humorously titled "At Last, a Normal Young Man". He spends time with 1920s artist/designer Erté in Palma de Majorca which is featured in the article. He is compared to the famous artist and is considered the modern 1980s equivalent. His own clothes inspired Jean Paul Gaultier to make his first men’s collection of clothes. Another feature article about the life and work of Elsa Schiaparelli in the short-lived Condé Nast publication VOGUE Beauté (with a Guy Bourdin cover) includes documents and pieces from his collection and he is also quoted as a "young genius expert collector and multi-talented artist". This article was the first step which led to the first Elsa Schiaparelli retrospective in Paris, which was based around his already huge collection.

BillyBoy* meets Jean Pierre Lestrade, a.k.a Lala, at the time leader of the camp New Wave band Lala et les Emotions in which he is the singer and songwriter. BillyBoy* asks Lala to help him find an apartment in Paris and they move in together in October of 1983. They instantly start working on projects, notably creating jewellery in the kitchen of their apartment.

 

BillyBoy* met at the time Bettina Graziani, socialite and former high fashion model from the 1950s. The “surreal” jewellery he created were making a sensation in Paris and were immediately admired and noticed by Gerry Stutz, owner of Henri Bendel’s department store in New York City who ordered 100 pieces for her store. Greeted by an article in THE NEW YORK TIMES reviews the innovative and wildly eccentric, bright colored jewels. The collection is sold out almost instantly. They were showcased in the windows of the prestigious store.

In 1982, BillyBoy* was contacted by the City of Paris and the Musée Galliéra to organize the first official retrospective on the work and career of his muse Elsa Schiaparelli, for which he lends many pieces from his own collections and writes a text in the catalogue, interviewing some of the most famous people of the era of Schiaparelli, whom he befriended, such as Jean SchlumbergerDiego GiacomettiRené GruauBernard BuffetAndré BeaurepaireEliane Bonabel and Hubert de GivenchyPhilippe VenetYves Saint Laurent amongst many others. At the same time he'd interview some of his various teenage year celebrity friends such as Marlene DietrichArlettySuzy DelairAndré CourrègesPierre Balmain etc and other pre-war and post-war fashion and art stars who'd help him with his research on Schiaparelli. The exhibition was a big success and had a great impact on fashion world-wide, bringing the Surrealism he adored back into fashion again in a huge way. The Musée des Arts de la Mode, initiated by Yvonne Deslandres, welcomes an very important part of BillyBoy*'s Surreal Couture creations into its permanent collection.

Surreal-Bijoux-Logo.jpg

In 1984, BillyBoy* opened with his companion/partner Jean Pierre Lestrade/Lala his own “Surreal Bijoux” workshop and showroom in the mythical Rue de la Paix in Paris. The official launching was organized at legendary decorator Jansen, Rue Royale. No less than 1000 pieces of Surreal Bijoux were displayed, announcing a new era in costume jewelry: cartoonish, luxurious, humouristic, pop and new baroque, they were all hand-made. This mundaine event gathered the “Tout-Paris” which discovered the young designer wearing hot pants and lilies on his Alexandre de Paris coiffed pink haired head. In the windows, go-go dancers in psychedelic clothes covered in jewels were dancing the frug dance of the 1960s in front of a huge portrait of BillyBoy* with a cowboy hat, dark glasses and his new motto signature:"Get Groovy!".

Designed by Lala c.1984

Designed by Lala c.1984

BillyBoy* has also created jewelry for different couturiers and designers such as Emanuel Ungaro, Thierry Mugler, Bernard Perris, Hanae Mori, Francesco Smalto, Charles Jourdan,  and many others. His own collections are represented in the most fashionable shops in France, USA, Japan, England, Italy, Germany and many other cities throughout the world. Stars and celebrities wear them: Bettina, Lauren Hutton, Arielle Dombasle, Marisa Berenson, Jackie Onassis, Liz Taylor, Lauren Bacall, Diana Vreeland, Andy Warhol and Ray Charles,  Boy George, Guns N'Roses, Michael Jackson, Madonna, and The Communards.

LOTUS, important brooch in resin, hand-painted and gold-leafed, with Gripoix glass cabochon, pearl, Swarovski rhinestones, chainette and hand-made dark red glass Gripoix bead. One of a kind. Hand signed, Billy Boy 1985. Dim resin piece: 4 inches

LOTUS, important brooch in resin, hand-painted and gold-leafed, with Gripoix glass cabochon, pearl, Swarovski rhinestones, chainette and hand-made dark red glass Gripoix bead. One of a kind. Hand signed, Billy Boy 1985.
Dim resin piece: 4 inches

 

In 1984 BillyBoy* asked the French, British, Italian and American (and even Thailandise) couturiers to dress for him the American Barbie doll. Incredibly humorous and innovative for the time, this original idea was to be copied endlessly ever after, not only for Barbie - in smaller proportions - but also for other characters such as Snoopy, Babar etc. Except for two designers, the majority of the profession went for it. This groovy project is turned into a major exhibition sponsored by Mattel and named "BillyBoy*, Le Nouveau Théatre de la Mode". Installed in a TGV train, it toured France and stopped in all major cities, drawing crowds of enthuisiastic visitors, children as well as adults along with a major press coverage.

 

Surreal Bijoux BillyBoy*, broche "Cimeterre" en résine peinte et dorée avec strass Swarovski et "Caviar de perles",1987.

Surreal Bijoux BillyBoy*, broche "Cimeterre" en résine peinte et dorée avec strass Swarovski et "Caviar de perles",1987.

 

On this occasion BillyBoy* created the “BillyBoy*, Nouveau Théatre de la Mode Barbie” which was the first Barbie doll bearing a designer’s name on its box, his own. He designed for Barbie a black sheath cocktail dress, black shoes, black sunglasses and black nails, and lots of gold chains “just like BillyBoy*”. A small revolution in the all-fluorescent pink world of the early 1980s Barbie doll - it completely changed the world of Barbie doll forever and children and collectors alike have never recovered from his influence (see full article in MODE).

Barbie-book-french.jpg

 

In 1986, his book titled "Barbie, Her Life and Times" was published in the USA. It was the first book to analyse the iconic nature of the Barbie doll as well as its sociological connections to her times as well as the influences of the French high fashion on the supposed role-model fashion doll. The book was to become a best seller which has been translated in 14 languages and it too has been influencing doll books and doll collecting ever since.

For American Barbie collectors, BillyBoy* designed his new Barbie doll. Called "Feeling Groovy Barbie" by BillyBoy*, she had a revolutionary new glamorous look . Her box cover is particularly daring: she is illustrated sitting over the Arch of Triumph in Paris, holding a martini glass (with martini!) and a cigarette, a FIRST for the demeure Barbie doll! Of course, she is also wearing dark glasses, BillyBoy* jewels and black beauty case and accessories, his wildly designed psychedelic outfit and black nail polish, again, "just like BillyBoy*!".

 

This year, the British newspaper THE OBSERVER nominates him "Man Of The Year" for his jewellery. This a very prestigious yearly title given in Britain to people of merit or who've been noted for some unique achievement. Vivienne Becker, author of the article calls his jewelry "...uninhibited and irresistibly funny, larger than life, naïve, eccentric, rebellious..."

 

 

In 1988, BillyBoy* and Lala were invited by Absolut Vodka on the first Concorde flight New-York-Stockholm, along with other artists such as painter Kenny Scharf and writer Tama Janowitz whose best selling book “Slaves of New York” was just being turned into a movie with many stars of the time. In Stockholm, BillyBoy* received the Absolut Vodka Award for his limited-edition silk scarf and brooch he designed for Absolut. The promotion was called "ABSOLUT BILLYBOY*" and was initiated by Andy Warhol who was the first artist to do the campaign with his ABSOLUT WARHOL. Warhol was responsible for BillyBoy* getting the project as he insisted to the Absolut company BillyBoy* was a major force on the art scene of the time, along with Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, and Stephen Sprouse and Andy Warhol who also got involved with the project.

 

 

 

The next day, BillyBoy* and Lala flew to Moscow as guests of the the ..British Embassy.  It was the beginning of the Perestroika initiated by President Michael Gorbachev. In a gathering of Ambassador’s and their wives from all countries, BillyBoy* presented with Lala a Surreal Bijoux exhibition and made a conference on the history of costume jewellery in high fashion. Each Ambassador’s wife received an copy of BillyBoy*‘s book on the Barbie doll as a gift as well as a BillyBoy* brooch. In the Embassy’s Rolls Royce (at the time the only one existing in the USSR), BillyBoy*, Lala, and Fiona Cartledge (the ambassador’s daughter and friend of BillyBoy* and Lala), were taken to visit the city. Once on Red Square, they created a sensation: BlllyBoy* was wearing 70s Pop singer David Cassidy’s cowboy jacket in silver leather and lamé (given to him by the pop singer himself, the suit created by Elvis Presley's designer, Nudie's), a cowboy* hat and a mini skirt! They photographed the crowd with polaroids which they gave away to the people along with Barbie Tour catalogues. BillyBoy* and Lala also visit Zeitsev who is the official couturier in the USSR. BillyBoy* offers him a bottle of “Shocking* de Schiaparelli.

Back in Paris, British VOGUE does a reportage on BillyBoy* in the "Modern Legends” issue.

 

 

1989: The creation of Mdvanii

The Mdvanii logo designed by BillyBoy*, 1988.

The Mdvanii logo designed by BillyBoy*, 1988.

 

After the immense success story with the Barbie doll BillyBoy* decides to move on, feeling the urge to express in total freedom his own creative ideas. He invents his own "fashion doll", this time a brand new concept: not a commercially-made toy for children but a sophisticated and artistic creation for adults only. While the exclusive fashion doll existed before in history, they mostly were for children to play with. Even the original "Theatre de la mode" in 1945, whilst created by artists (head by reknowned French sculptor Rebull, wire body concept by the famous Saint Martin and Cocteau) they were abandoned without thought at the end of the show since it was basically a sophisticated advertising for the haute couture industry in France after the war. At the time it was not something to be kept as artwork which it only much later would be considered. 

 

This Mdvanii concept was an interactive artwork from the very beginning, with a very specific conceptual marketing (like dolls of the 1960s, using all the same references, which was an appealing artistic idea for BillyBoy* considering his previous work). Mdvanii was geared only to adults, from serious art collectors to serious doll collectors (who differ greatly in their approach to the subject) and all people with a curiousity for this unusual and new idea. It was and still is very highly controversial to use a "doll" as a work of contemporary art.

The anatomically-correct resin Mdvanii, 1990.

The anatomically-correct resin Mdvanii, 1990.

In 1989, the new revolutionary fashion doll is presented for the first time. She is named Mdvanii and her concept is extremely new and daring. She is not commercially-made and is created in an genuine artistic way, and as a camp manifesto artwork. Conceived for adult collectors she is "anatomically correct", made in resin, entirely hand-made and hand-painted. She is made in very limited editions (the biggest one, for F.A.O Schwarz was of 200 examples and three outfits, 600 in total) and she is distributed in a very exclusive way. Her wardrobe is luxurious, made in the tradition of French high fashion. She has real hair (although sometimes yak for the white hair and synthetic hair for special hairdos) and her wigs are graced with the signature of world-famous hairdresser Alexandre de Paris, whose logo has been created by Jean Cocteau. The illustration on her box is by mythical fashion illustrator René Gruau, her catalogue sketches are by American portraitist and former Barbie illustrator Clyde Smith. But Mdvanii is not only a collectible doll, she has a whole discourse: the texts presenting her and her fashions read like a camp manifesto, the true expression of an artistic creation, which give her a real and unique personality. These texts, written by BillyBoy* (and inspired by Diana Vreeland for whom he was her protégé) would influence doll makers and manufacturers from there on in! 

Mdvanii TOUT MON COEUR, 1990.

Mdvanii TOUT MON COEUR, 1990.

Thanks to the initiative of Carol Lister, Mdvanii is "launched" at LIBERTY, London on February 14, 1989 after several years of artistic development with many different technicians and artisans, and endless developing of her wardrobe, visuals, physiognomy and "personality", which was entirely developed and designed by BillyBoy*. Her body is an original sculpting based on the style of dolls all over the world during the 1950s, 60s and 70s known as "the fashion doll", with an adult body, but BillyBoy* took it much further by not only the look, but the concept. He deliberately made her stylized almost like a cubist painting and appealingly unrealistic but proportioned in human scale, and based on the look of a number of people in his life, notably his adopted mother Dee, and his eccentric aunt, muse to artists in the 20s and 30s. 

Although each decision and idea came from him, he continuously asked for the opinion of Lala with his exacting eye and refined culture, so BillyBoy* feels the final result is not exclusively his, but the symbiosis of him and Lala. As for all places where Mdvanii is available, LIBERTY of London proposed exclusive creations, many incorporating the famous Liberty fabrics. In the same way, Mdvanii has been launched and represented in Japan exclusively by Sumiko Watanabe, with unique pieces and exclusive limited series with a special label. Almost immediately Mdvanii became iconic that it even created a few copists in the ensuing years who, due to the rarity of Mdvanii for them to collect, they felt justified in plagarizing her. However, nothing will ever carry the enigmatic appeal and cachet of this revolutionary concept and unique art work. A real Mdvanii is a REAL Mdvanii and nothing can replace the allure of an original Mdvanii of this early period. This early period now has a following of admirers who are literally obsessed with these highly individualized early works.

Mdvanii in America

Mdvanii in VOGUE, 1990.

Mdvanii in VOGUE, 1990.

 

Mdvanii is launched in New York at the prestigious store F.A.O Schwarz.

Between 1990 and 1993, several different new characters will be added to Mdvanii's world, creating the start of a whole entourage for her: Dheei (1990) Rhogit-Rhogit et Zhdrick (1991), Soraya (1992), Edie et Tzulli (1992) The first male dolls which appeared in 1992 were also sexually defined and had a condom and a text promoting Safe Sex in their box.

Mdvanii will be welcomed by a full-page article in THE NEW YORK TIMES titled “Beautiful But No Bimbo: A Doll For The 1990s”. Soon after she will be launched at F.A.O Schwarz in NYC and in others places thoughout the USA. Other press coverage include articles in THE SUNDAY TIMES, VOGUE, HARPER’S BAZAAR, ELLE, ACTUEL, GLAMOUR, MARIE CLAIRE, L’OFFICIEL, VOGUE, CONTEMPORARY DOLL MAGAZINE, and even PLAYBOY and LUI etc..

BillyBoy* is also regularily sollicitated to write for the international press on subjects related to contemporary art, high fashion history, fashion dolls and also doll’s houses and decoration. Mdvanii is photographed by artists Christine SpenglerPierre RutschiAntoine Giacomoni as well as by mythical Studio Harcourt.

In the early 1990s also, Surreal Bijoux is transfered from the Rue de la Paix to Rue du Cherche-Midi in Paris. An ancient butcher shop from the 1910s, with its original exterior decoration (Belle-époque enameled paintings and meat hooks) is turned inside into an all "Shocking Pink" box, with authentic Paul Poiret furniture lacquered pink, dedicated to Mdvanii and BillyBoy* jewels. Two other rooms include the office of Surreal Productions (with its newly invented fax machine!) and the large atelier were the dolls are actually mounted, painted and dressed.

From April to May 1990, 100 pieces of BillyBoy* own high fashion collection are shown at Cours Mont Royal in Montreal, Canada. They include masterpieces by Paul Poiret, Elsa Schiaparelli, Coco Chanel, Jeane Lanvin, Madeleine Vionnet, Jean Patou, Christian Dior, Cristobal Balenciaga, and many, many more. BillyBoy* writes his manifesto "Why I Collect Butterflies And Not Stamps" and makes an analogy between the fragility and the ephemeral nature of high fashion garments with the one of the butterflies. The title of the exhibition is “Le Grand Tra La La”. Mdvanii is featured in the show and makes her first appearance in Quebec at GianFranco Ferré's boutique.

The "Le Grand Tra La La" is shown at Bloomingsdale's, New York in the "Vive La France"  exhibition.

During these exhibitions, Mdvanii is availaible at Gianfranco Ferre's Boutique in Montreal and on special order to Surreal Productions in Paris at Bloomingdale's.

 

In 1991 (until 1993), BillyBoy* is starring guest on the most popular weekly French TV show starring Christine Bravo, called “Merci et encore Bravo”. He is featured in humouristic sketches and mock-parodies about how to be "glamorous" in which he appears in unusual settings, Surrealistic, Baroque and Pop Art at the same time, in hilarious costumes and eccentric situations. Called “Art de Vivre” de BillyBoy*" they were written by Lala and often filmed in their parisian apartment, the famous apartment of impressionist painter Vuillard.

1992: BillyBoy* published with Maeght Editeur“Bleuette, la petite fille modèle de la Collection BillyBoy*”. Considered today by many a collector as the “Gûtenberg Bible of Bleuette", this 990-page book is the ultimate anthology on the first popular fashion doll which has been a reflection of French high fashion and society from 1905 to 1960. On this occasion, BillyBoy* created his own Petite Fille Modèle doll in homage to Bleuette. Also entirely hand-made in his atelier, this collector’s doll has been made in very limited series (about 200 examples in total). La Petite fille modèle is the only creation of BillyBoy* which was created for children, as well as adults.

1993: BillyBoy* directs with Lala a video clip for the Japanese band “SuzySusie. It becomes a Top of the Pops favourite for 17 weeks!

The photographic exhibition “Le Jardin Secrêt de Mdvanii by BillyBoy* sponsored by the FNAC galleries and stores travels in different cities of France for three years. Just before the end of the tour, the trunks containing the entire collection are stolen! A poetic and humourous text was written by Edmund White, the visionary author who invented the term “gay author”.

BillyBoy* models on the runway for Yohji Yamamoto.

The magazine L’OFFICIEL runs a 14-page feature story on BillyBoy* titled “L’incroyable BillyBoy*. On this occasion, Mdvanii is presented as the “Ambassador of French High Fashion” and is dressed by Thierry Mugler, Torrente, Louis Féraud, Révillon Haute Fourrure (where she'd be presented during the runway fashion shows along with the human-sized furs), and others as well as by BillyBoy*. The magazine has their own exclusive Mdvaniis for special clients and was available through the magazine dressed as she was on the cover of this iconic french fashion review. For VOGUE Hommes, there are creations by Claude Montana, Nina Ricci, Balenciaga, and many, many others. 

 

In 1993, BillyBoy* and Lala decide to leave Paris and move to the Normandy coast to a house by the sea in Trouville (next to Deauville) in September. From this date, BillyBoy* decides to withdraw himself from the public attention and refuses all interview and press coverage. This decision will be kept until 2005.

In 1993, BillyBoy* becomes officially an expert and member of the Union Française des Experts, specialized in high fashion and textile history, contemporary art and fashion dolls (and toys in general). This highly prestigious organization encouraged him where he assisted auctions for Millon, Tajan and others, worked with the experts Camard and family, wrote catalogues and helped set record prices for things at auction via his expertise. Being an expert in France has the status of someone with the legal responibility in which the experts word enters into any legal dispute and requires the studies and internship for five years to be authorized.

From 1994 and 1997, BillyBoy* and Lala develop the artistic evolution of Mdvanii, which will be made in porcelaine, as all the members of the tribe. New "teenage" boy and girl dolls are included in the Mdvanii family. Tzulli, Muio-Bix, Ishwar, Jobbi, Yucef, Ouimi (1996-97).

During this highly creative period, several other fashion dolls are created: Mademoiselle Rivière and Bénedict, wooden dolls inspired by the eccentric fashions of the Merveilleuses and Incroyables which were the fashionistas of the French revolution: entirely hand-carved and hand made by fishermen in Honfleur, a neighbouring seatown, they are dressed in antique fabrics from the times. Lala hand-finished the roughly carved dolls and painted them, like he has been doing now since many years for all of their artworks and Mdvanii and family pieces. Prior to his painting every Mdvanii, he had a staff of employees, specially trained artisans in the workshop, who reproduced exactly his prototypes. Every season had it's own make-up styles and colours entirely designed and named by BillyBoy*. Another doll creation is the boudoir-style doll ZIBBI“the Modern-Age” doll” inspired by the Wiener Werkstätte and dressed with authentic Art Deco fabrics.

Mdvanii’s nature as a revolutionary fashion doll for adults has evolved and is now defined as “a sculpture with a lifestyle”. Mdvanii artworks are regularly exposed in Japan.

A selection of BillyBoy*’s own wardrobe composed of Vivienne Westwood, John Galliano and Jean Paul Gaultier is included in the exhibition "Art and Fashion 1960-1990" in Brussels, Belgium - Le Musée des Beaux-Arts. For the opening BillyBoy* creates stupor while wearing the original runway example of the famous Yves Saint Laurent “Mondrian” dress from his own collection.

In June 1997, BillyBoy* et Lala decide to leave France and move from Trouville to Lausanne, in Switzerland.

to cont.

 THE SUMMERLAND Mdvanii Photos: Archives Mdvanii/BillyBoy & Lala copyright 2017


 THE SUMMERLAND Mdvanii
Photos: Archives Mdvanii/BillyBoy & Lala copyright 2017

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The Jewels of William DeLillo

Carlos King

Belgian born designer William De Lillo started his career working for reputable fine jewelry houses such as; Cartier, Harry Winston and Miriam Haskell. before branching out on his own with the help of Robert F. Clark (head designer for Miriam Haskell) forming William De Lillo Ltd. In New York City in 1968.

 1968 was a significant time in modern day American History, the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War caused a cultural phenomenon and revolution where students took to the streets to protest war and social and sexual stereotypes. Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination, The beatles psychedelic music, Woodstock, the birth of Gay Pride and the Stone Wall Riots ignited a fashion movement in New York City of gender bending (unisex).  Long hair, layers of beads, flowing robes started appearing on men channeling a Parisian Bohemian look. Inspired by his surroundings, William DeLillo started designing gender bending jewelry for men in 1968, his first collection constructed out of heavy gold tone rhodium plated brass included twisted ropes, chokers, fringe and tassels. 

         Tassel Mesh Necklace                                c.1968/69

         Tassel Mesh Necklace                                c.1968/69

The unique bold aspect of DeLillo’s pieces attracted the attention of Elizabeth Taylor and American and French fashion houses which he later collaborated with. For Adolfo he created exaggerated layered pearl necklaces with tassel finishes. King Tut’s exhibition was a phenomenon is the early 1970’s; taking inspiration Mr.DeLillo created avant-garde, geometric, tubular encrusted jeweled collars for Bill Blass.

         Surrealist Eye Collar c.1970       (AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE)

         Surrealist Eye Collar c.1970

      (AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE)

          Sea Horse Earrings c.1970       (AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE)  

          Sea Horse Earrings c.1970

      (AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE)

 

The vision and talent of William DeLillo and Robert F. Clark did not only transcend to jewelry, but also to art. Beautiful brutalist wire sculptures of different scales, depicting geometric shapes.

         Circular Mod Mirror Necklace c.1971             (AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE)

         Circular Mod Mirror Necklace c.1971

            (AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE)

New York City’s fast paced lifestyle caused the designing duo to make a move to a chateau in the South of France. This was not the end, but the peak of their careers. In Paris, they collaborated with the house of Chanel, Nina Ricci, Schiaparelli and Yves Saint Laurent. The impeccable craftsmanship, materials and attention to detail built a reputable European clientele, one being the Duchess of Windsor. The Baron and Baroness de Rothschild sponsored an exhibit in Paris in 1978, showcasing jewelry and sculpture by William de Lillo and Robert Clark.

After a few years in France, William DeLillo and Robert Clark decided to move back to the United States, eventually settling down in Phoenix, Arizona. Not much is known about the House of DeLillo, however their pieces are some of the most scarce and coveted amongst private collectors and museums. Mr. DeLillo died in 2011 followed by his life partner Robert F. Clark a few years after.

 

   Jeweled Maltese Brooch c.1970's      (AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE)

   Jeweled Maltese Brooch c.1970's

     (AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE)

  Jeweled chandelier Earrings c.1970       (AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE)

  Jeweled chandelier Earrings c.1970

      (AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE)

                                 Jeweled Fringe Red  Prototype Bib Necklace c.1970's                                                   (AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE)

                                 Jeweled Fringe Red  Prototype Bib Necklace c.1970's

                                                  (AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE)

                                      Jeweled Faux Lapis Shell Necklace and Earrings c.1970

                                      Jeweled Faux Lapis Shell Necklace and Earrings c.1970

Rihanna wearing William DeLillo Jewelry

Rihanna wearing William DeLillo Jewelry

Cilea

Carlos King

The name Cilea, is synonymous with quirk, style and French fashion accessories with a certain “laissez faire.” Stephane Ravel, the designer for Cilea transformed and undertook the small French atelier in 1992, continuing the same principals, style and aesthetic of the famous workshop of Monique Vedie, following her retirement.

 Cilea is known for their use and manipulation of resin. Each piece of jewelry is twisted and bent by heat, finished, detailed and painted by hand.

Today, Cilea Paris designs exclusively in limited quantities for French designer Francoise Montague. The brand is recognized worldwide for their abstract and figural brooches depicting insects, flowers, fruit and vegetables.

     (Gallery24Jewelry offers an exclusive selection of Cilea)

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"Bijoux de Fantaisie" Isabel Canovas

Carlos King

One of the European designers we are fascinated by is Isabel Canovas. Isabel was born in Paris in 1945. Her Spanish father Blas Canovas, was a couture textile designer, it's not a surprise couture was in her dna. Her career began as a designer for Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton from the early 1970's to 1980, in 1982 when she opened her own luxury accessories company with three locations Paris, New York and Madrid. For ten years she created limited series of fashion accessories which created a new standard and help mold European fashion, specially bijoux de fantaisie (costume jewelry). Her creations were whimsical, elaborate and constructed using the best materials France had to offer.

A true visionary, Isabel captured the attention of Vogue, Figaro Madame and The New York Times Magazine. Her  revolutionary collections were inspired by her travels (Africa, Russia, Spain and Venice) and also incorporated animals, fruit and vegetables, flowers and the circus. Unfortunately, after building an international clientele for ten years, Isabel closed her boutiques in the early 1990's. Her vision and talent opened the doors to other designers such as; Maud Frizon, Paloma Picasso, Frances Patiky Stein and Dominique Aurientis. Today, her pieces are highly collectible due to the scarcity, quality and craftsmanship.  A bold French look, which make women look French.

(Gallery24Jewelry offers a large selection of Isabel Canovas, for inquiries please contact us)
Metropolitan Museum New York
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