"The Jazz Age" Josephine Baker Gift Set by Jason Wu

The Thrill is Gone
On March 17, the new Josephine Baker gift set went on sale at FAO Schwarz. Ordering was a breeze and my doll arrived two days later via UPS. The outer box went through the required box kicker-compressor at the UPS warehouse but the inner box containing the gift set was in perfect condition.
I love the window boxes of this line of dolls. This one was so well protected it had a separate sheet of vinyl outside and inside adhering to the window! Impressive.
Deboxing went well. There were no problems caused by packaging. The fashions were in great condition except for a few creases in the tuxedo which I improved with the careful use of my trusty Rowenta. I was not able to completely remove the creases in the lapels of the jacket.
Josephine comes dressed in her robe with nothing underneath. That was a little odd. Several people received dolls whose bare chest greeted them through the box window. I don't suppose FAO will be displaying one of those.
Using my wigged Via Venetto to model the gown and The Muse to model the tuxedo, I was able to have a photo session with all the fashions at one time. The gown and wrap are made well and fit well and that's it. Nothing outstanding or new there.
Dressing The Muse was an event in itself. The shirt goes on easily and has a crotch elastic to hold it down.
The vest fits oddly. On both of those items the hooks show and look bad. I taped the wrists and fingers of the doll prior to putting on the jacket. It is a tight, skimpy fit and the dolls arm movements are somewhat inhibited. The pants and shoes fit great and the hat just sits on her head. Strangely enough there are socks included. I didn't even bother. The bow tie has to be pulled over the doll's head. That was a mistake. The elastic is tight enough to ruin the hairstyle and/or eyelashes while being put on. I chose earrings from my stash to complete the look.
There are two pairs of shoes, earrings and a choker and no other accessories besides the black socks and panty hose. I would have liked a dancing stick for the tuxedo.

And now for the bad news.

This is Josephine right out of the box and no, she does not have a hair net on. She doesn't come with a hair net at all. Apparently it has become part of her hair. There are dried clumps of something, residue on her face and short strands of hair sticking out all over the place. In general this is disgusting. This was not supposed to happen any more.
After my first experience with banana dance Josephine (pictured below), I hesitated to purchase the others because I was so turned off.

As you can see from the photos, there is an indent on both sides of her mouth extending back to the jawline. In addition, so much hair glue was used that it is visible on the skin of the forehead and around the curls. It is on the eyelashes. What appears as dust on her eyelashes and in the eye area in general is actually production debris which apparently got stuck to the glue used on the hair.

I was asked by Mark Tewfik, the "Patient Care" rep at IT to return the doll because it had multiple problems and they wanted to show it to the factory.

The problems have not been solved. I wonder if they've been addressed. My 2008 convention Tatyana had the embedded hairnet syndrome. Paris J'Adore Tatyana had her side curls glued to her cheeks with a visible residue and the similarly styled hair on the Mood Veroniques was horrible.

We have had many Fashion Royalty dolls over the past few years who had forehead curls and fancy updos. This problem did not exist. Going backwards in time and to name just a few:
Agnes Von Weiss - The Royal Weiss; Vanessa Perrin - True Royalty; Véronique Perrin - Gliteratti; Vanessa Perrin- Intoxicating Mix; Véronique Perrin - Foreign Affair; Véronique Perrin - Rare Creature; Adèle Makeda - Lustrous Silhouette.
My recommendation:
If you like Josephine Baker and you manage to get a doll without the hair problems, then the gift set is a decent buy. The price is much better than any gift set sold in the last few years. I was able to get 20% off as a result of the Barbie celebration. Right now there is free shipping being offered.
Here is the blurb from the FAO site:
"For the second installment in their Hollywood Royalty line, Integrity Toys is proud to present Jason Wu's vision of true renaissance woman, human rights pioneer and stage artist extraordinaire, Josephine Baker. Ready to delight her adoring fans, Josephine Baker comes to you with everything she needs to make a lasting impression. This FAO Schwarz exclusive doll gift set includes a robe, gala gown, tuxedo, shoes and accessories. Limited edition of 300 sets."
Retail price $160.

Follow Up:
I have been told that I will get a free replacement head. It will be ordered from the factory in China and will take time to get here.


There can be humor in patriotism.

This photograph appears in this week's New Yorker Magazine side by side with a brief article about Michelle Obama's preference to go sleeveless. The two gentlemen in the image are Thakoon Panichgul, left, and Jason Wu on the right. The First Lady has chosen fashions designed by both of these men. If you don't know, Jason Wu is also the designer/creator of the Fashion Royalty doll, AvantGuard, Valia and several other Integrity Toy doll lines. He created dolls in the likeness of the First Lady of Drag, RuPaul and transsexual Amanda Lepore. Mrs. Obama wore a gown designed by Jason in which to attend the inaugural balls.

I saw the image prior to getting the print article as another collector posted it on one of the doll boards. I liked it immediately. I see the symbolism of being protected by the flag and holding it dear. Jason is holding the flag to his heart. This photograph is tame by Jason's standards.

Two other collectors were completely offended by the use of the flag. They felt it was disrespectful in every way. I don't see a speck of disrespect at all. I see two great-looking young men posed with a big beautiful, if somewhat old, flag. There's humor in patriotism here. I suppose that the nuanced emotions are too hard for many to understand. No attack against the USA was intended at all.

If you want to be offended, here's your chance:

How about this "Casey Anthony Barbie" being offered for sale on Craig's list?

I don't know the story behind this but there appears to be a great deal of controversy surrounding the entire thing. Since the dress closes with velcro, it's just as crappy as most Mattel items. ;-). Too bad someone ruined a perfectly good flag.

I just spent the last 30 minutes searching images of flag wearing or abusive behavior. Three offensive images were of non-Americans burning the flag with glee. One was a group of American protestors holding the flag upsidedown. I also found these adorable photos among many more beautiful others.
It is part of being a doll collector to read and deal with the opinions of others on topics other than doll collecting. Do you know what an A.F.G.O. is?

If you see this doll for sale, please let me know.

I'm searching for this Vogue Vintage Reproduction Ginny Beryl doll. Manufactured in 2007. Edition of 350. Shouldn't be too hard to find but all I can find are the AA ones. I have been searching everywhere!!!!
Maybe someone out there has one. You can email me by clicking on the little envelope under each post.

Update on August 5, 2009: Found her and she's mine! It was worth the wait.