UFDC is a Fan of Sylvia MacNeil!

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Convention may be months away but our event artists and manufacturers are already hard at work.  Each month UFDC is pleased to introduce you to the artists and companies whose work will be showcased at the meal events planned for Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States of America.

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Meeting the president of the United States on New Year’s Day was a tradition throughout the 19th century. A large reception held at the White House on the first day of every year was open to the public, and anyone could wait on line, enter the executive mansion, and shake president’s hand.  The tradition of the New Year’s reception, or levee, as it was often called, began with George Washington, before the White House was built. The first occupant of the White House, John Adams, took up residence in the unfinished mansion in November 1800, and hosted its first New Year’s reception on January 1, 1801.  The last New Year’s Day reception was held January 1, 1932, during the administration of Herbert Hoover. The following year, the Hoover family left Washington for the holidays, and the long tradition was broken.  When Franklin Roosevelt took office in 1933 he chose not to revive the custom, partly because his paralysis made it difficult to stand to greet visitors.  With all the security precautions in today’s world, it is, of course, impossible to imagine that the public will ever again be able to celebrate New Year’s Day by walking into the White House and shaking the president’s hand.  (To read the whole article visit www.about.com.

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Sylvia MacNeil’s name is very familiar to members of UFDC as a French fashion wardrobe creator extraordinaire and through her many articles published in DOLL NEWS. The first of these articles appeared in 1992. Sylvia has also written for several other doll publications and published a book entitled “The Paris Collection”. 

Sylvia’s background is impressive. She graduated from the Butera School of Art in 1966 where she studied fine art and illustration. Her interest in watercolors led her to study this delicate and difficult form of painting privately. She was hired as a fashion illustrator in a downtown Boston department store and also was employed as a greeting card artist and designed display ads for the Yellow Pages. Sylvia is a talented watercolor artist in her own right. 

In 1970 she began collecting antique dolls. As happens with so many collectors she began selling antique dolls, with a focus on French dolls, two years later. Eventually this expanded to include French antique doll accessories. Since 1982 Sylvia has travelled to Paris four times a year to purchase dolls and accessories. In 2001 she participated in a special exhibit held at the Musée De La Poupée 

Sylvia never travels to Europe without her sketchbook and camera at hand to do research on original, antique doll clothing and frequents the doll shops, shows, museums, auctions and the private collections found in countries including France, Monaco, England, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium and Holland. She both collects and sells 19th century fabric and trims taken from original adult and children’s clothing of the period. 

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In 1999 Sylvia mounted a special exhibit at UFDC’s national convention and in honor of this exhibit she was presented with UFDC’s prestigious Award of Excellence. This convention was held in Washington, D.C. and history will repeat itself once more as Sylvia will be mounting an exhibit for UFDC once again in Washington. The exhibit will be entitled, “The Enchanting Trouseau of Chiffonnette”. This also happens to be the same title of Sylvia’s latest book (more about that below). Sylvia MacNeil’s virtuosity as a costume researcher and creator of early French Fashion doll wardrobes will be highlighted in this exhibit. 

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Throughout the 19th century it was common for wealthy people to take what was collectively known as “The Grand Tour”. These tours visited special places like capital cities and other tourist destinations and were considered an important part of a young person’s education. They could last for many months. No young woman of means would travel without an impressive and large wardrobe to be prepared for any occasion, whether it be simply promenading through the ruins of Rome or as a guest at a ball. For those lucky enough to attend this special pre-convention event on Sunday, July 28th, their day will begin or end with a personal grand tour to the home of legendary author and researcher Ann Coleman. All those registered for the event will gather for a luncheon that will include a program by Samy Odin, Region 16 Director and owner and curator of the Musée De La Poupée in Paris. A very special souvenir will be presented to each attendee, Sylvia MacNeil’s newest book. In Sylvia’s own words: 

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Attendees will have the opportunity to see the pictures in Sylvia’s book come alive by visiting her special exhibit by the same name. 

An additional favor will also go home with every attendee, a paper doll designed by Kathy Monier, Regional Director and talented paper doll artist. 

This event will be limited to 100 so sign up early for a day that will not only delight but also educate. 

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2 Responses to “UFDC is a Fan of Sylvia MacNeil!”

  1. Mary shaw-mcminn says:

    Hello, I am a fairly new member, joined about 5 years ago as my mother was becoming ill, I was accompanying her.
    Although I will not be.attending the May convention, I do happen to be flying into Wash. D.C. this Tuesday. My husband has.a.business meeting for a guy pulled of days.
    Can you direct me to 2-3 place. Which onewill should nothave miss inD.C. of interest to antique doll collectors.

    Thank you for a.response.
    Mary Shaw-McMinn of Loma Linda Calif, member of Doll Discovery Club

  2. After seeing the pictures online of Sylvia MacNeil’s incredible French Fashions, I’m hooked. Have to start looking through my old Doll News articles and am awaiting her new book with patterns.

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