Colour variations on the same jumpsuit
Two wedding dresses for Mily
"French Contemporary", which is the equivalent of the "Mad Men" TV series look in America in the early 60s..
Mily's letter sent to the readers of Lisette's magazine,
Dolly is the big-size sister of Mily. She also has a very Parisian wardrobe.
Gilles and Eric, a transgender couple before the times?
It’s also interesting to know that Mily had a larger version of herself, made by Gégé, called Dolly and she had two very homosexual - seeming friends, Gilles and Eric (they had basically the same head, body and arms of Dolly but one had an implanted beard and moustache! Their wardrobe was effeminate and one of them, Eric, was supposed to be in the Navy.....). She also had a black Hawaiian friend called Aloha who had her own divinely elegant wardrobe of clothes which had their own specialized box with her name on it. This was all presented in the mid-to-late 1960s. Dolly was the size of Crissy by Ideal Toys. She had basically many of the same ensembles Mily had, only bigger and they often were shown together in the later Gégé fashion doll catalogues. But that’s a whole other story.
Mily Yesterday and Today
Mily exemplified the values of a French middle-class teenage girl in the
1960s, spanning all the big themes in teen culture of the era, from
Yéyé and innocent endeavours to Francoise Sagan’s character but today
she is a “valueless” doll - that is, no price can be put on her. No real
values exist for the Mily doll because it is rarely, if ever, found by
doll collectors, although lately she is a teeny bit more collected due
to a bunch of old stock having been found in France a few years ago and
the first publication of this article in 1991 (written in 1980 in French
and published in DOLLS in April 1991) Only a few are found at
fleamarkets once in a while, now sold by the newly appointed specialists
in vinyl 60s dolls, in France. Once in a blue moon, you can find
something on the world’s largest headache, Ebay. There probably are a
minute number of collectors in the USA, I know of only three, two of
which have given up in frustration. It is, however, very likely that
Mily can be found in many attics and basements across France, but most
owners of this thoroughly modern French fashion doll are not aware that
she is Mily, the embodiment of young French society during the heyday of
the 1960s. Even though she failed her secondary school examination
because she wasn’t paying attention to her math studies and was
preoccupied by her guitar and her clothes, Mily had all the everyday
concerns of a real teenage girl in France.
A stunning wardrobe
Amongst her button-up gaiters, her quintessential spring-a-lator pumps in clear lucite, her seamed hosiery and hosiery in fishnet or patterned lycra, floppy hats à la Brigitte Bardot, black traveling cases and chunky handbags, parasols and umbrellas, her completely equiped deskset with a calendar (1965) and pencils and a case, her Mod black and white vinyl raingear, her typical 60s curlers and single wash shampoo tubes (marked “Gégé shampoo”), her house cleaning accessories (tartan-patterned plastic apron, comical feather duster, clothesline and pins) and jewelery sets (which had a multitude of kitsch brooches, typically 60s pendants, large - scaled beads, the look of the sixties, gaudy gold and vinyl belts and chunky bracelets - all very Mrs. Humbert Humbert (actress Shelley Winters) in Lolita by Stanley Kubrick, a hugely influential film in France, and even her little pipe cleaner - like dog called Boby, and her own feathered-friend, a fluffy little bird....
Mily at first, had straight legs and a fluffy Clairol hairdo, but soon after had bendable legs, which oddly, were discontinued by Gégé in 1968, probably due, as other cutbacks they did, for financial reasons. The bendleg period, which featured Mily in a Courrèges-like jumpsuit and those ever-present old-fashioned stilletto open-toe high heels, and a swirl ponytail (often in ice white blonde or ash blonde), featured the doll in a totally Mod multi-coloured box. The box matched her by then totally Mod clothes, Mily had the most psychedelic minidresses in the doll world, even more wild than Barbie, who had Mod clothes which in comparaison, were relatively tame. Concerning the packaging, they could have been considered early re-cycling, Gégé used old cardboard, so when you look at the back of her boxes, you have old ads, and billboard advertising...the outfits themselves were cheaply wired onto the cardboard and had cheap tissue paper stuffing inside the clothes. The earlier boxes, in white grid-patterned embossed cardboard looked like the Jacque Tati-style architecture of the time in France. It was called French Contemporary and was a very influential style of the era worldwide.
Fresh and fashionable looks for Mily
"A pair of high heels as a token of friendship"
Mily had the modern publicity and ultimate consumer tool, of a magazine. A little bit like the La Semaine de Suzette for Bleuette doll, Mily was extensively featured in Lisette magazine for girls, a very popular magazine geared to teenagers. When teens would write to “Mily”, they’d receive a form letter, printed in hand-writing on Mily’s own stationary.
For various promotions of Mily and company, Gégé would send out little cards which had a pair of shoes inside a clear plastic dome or a neck scarf attached to the card....Sometimes they did this for Christmas and other times, just when sales may have been lagging. There seems to be some sort of fetish about those high heels which we find everywhere....There even was a Mily keychain during the rage of keychain collecting in France in the mid-1960s. Mily had her own doll trunk like every self-respecting fashion doll, hers emulating the grid-patterned embossed boxes, with a gold print of an early Mily on the side. She also had a contemporary modern closet wardrobe, which was advertised with her in various department stores which carried the Mily line, notably Le Printemps. It most likely was not produced by Gégé. There also was the black wire and glossy plastic tread modernistic chairs and tables seen in the catalogues of Mily, also probably not made by Gégé but endorsed by them.
Myriads and myriads of clothes
Something important to know about Mily is that there were myriads and myriads of clothes designed and made for her. The wedding dresses are the most common thing still found mint-in-box....they must have rivaled those of the Barbie doll because there seems to have been so many made. AND, they did fit Barbie doll, so you can imagine the scenario: little girl begs mom for the REAL Mattel Barbie doll and then wants clothes for the little consumer’s newly acquired object of desire but mommy economically buys the Mily items which were considerably less expensive than the authentic Mattel-made Barbie frocks. The same dress can be found in fifty different prints and with different accessories. They also were sold for many years so many of these outfits are found over and over again, such as the wedding dresses. Also. most interestingly, Mily’s wardrobe catalogues contained only a fraction of what was available for the clothes horse doll and many outfits, for not only Mily, but Jacky and Baby, especially after 1966, were never shown but amply manufactured. You used to be able to find them mint-in-box in France in the 1980s but no trace in any of the catalogues or advertising for Mily. There seems to be a plethora of clothes and accessories, all very representative of each season of French haute couture up until the very end of Mily’s career in 1973. The Colifichets de Mily are exceptionally rare to find mint-on-card since they were so few made, paradoxically. Gégé tried for the first few years after the end of Mily’s production to continue to sell her old stock but it was too late, Barbie was reigning as fashion doll queen, sold with the American way of marketing, massive advertising, substantial distribution and many promotions of all sorts. Mily seemed pushed to the side as major French Pop stars like Sheila was photographed in Salut les Copains magazine with her Mattel Barbie dolls.
This early 70s catalogue shows a wardrobe more dynamic and fashionable than ever
For Dolly: pants, pants, pants!
Vive la poupée Mily!
The early seventies clothes are particularly noteworthy with wild print palazoo pants (called Alcazar
after the oh-so-glamorous Parisian nightclub where the more mature
Claude Francois with his sexy Claudettes belched out early pre-disco
songs) used as a gown (a bit like the similar Barbie outfit, Patio Party),
off-the shoulder acetate gowns in acidic colours and vibrant-coloured
(shocking pink, acid green, lemon yellow, tango orange and black all in
one fabric) tweed ensembles of tight tapered pants, severely tailored
hip-length jacket and ultra Mod bell-shaped cape. The clothes also still
resembled the wacky Pop Art series Yves Saint Laurent did at the time
with bold stripes and diagonal cuts in odd contrasting pop colours for
short shift dresses. Orly,
a coat outfit, with matching scarf and beret, resembled the exact look
of Emanuel Ungaro. He was the protégé of Balenciaga during Balenciaga’s
last big moment in the mid-sixties, when he went very mod, along with
his other protéges Courrèges and Pierre Cardin. The Mily/Ungaro ensemble
was a very Mod look in wool, in sky blue, caramel brown and beige
pastel tones. Perfect, as if it were designed with French 1960s actress
Mireille Darc in mind. One Mily mindress from the late sixties is called
Emplettes and is a belted mini-shift dress in acid orange with
loud white polka dots, very late Balenciaga-style indeed! It’s strange
indeed as the old phrase goes, “what goes around , comes around....”
Mily started her career in Balenciage-type clothes and finished it with
such type clothes....all a perfect reflection of that brief period of
time in France.
Here goes the story of Mily, a true gem in any discerning fashion doll collection. Vive la poupée Mily!!!!
BillyBoy*, May 2004.