The splash made by the 1955 introduction of Madame Alexander’s Cissy Doll is still making ripples and waves to this day, right up to the shores of the 21st century, and so, I believe Cissy deserves a page of her own here on DollKind.com, apart from our main article on Madame Alexander Dolls. Admiringly described by doll collectors as the ‘ultimate fashion doll’, Cissy Dolls were never really meant to be the rough and tumble playthings of small children. Rather, they were an exercise in period couture which has now become a historic reference for late 1950s – early 1960s fashion. I’ve come to believe that Cissy is actually a doll whose greatest appeal is to grown women, and at the end of this informational article, we’ll discuss the emotional value of the Cissy Doll today.
History And Technical Specs Of Madame Alexander’s Cissy Dolls
Cissy’s original face was expertly painted, as only the artists working for the Madame Alexander Doll Company could do. Eyebrows, lips and lower lashes are deftly drawn and cheeks are pink with upper lashes being three-dimensional of hard plastic. The face is very rounded – not unlike the porcelain dolls of the Victorian era, but the main difference between Cissy’s Face and the faces, for example, of Madame Alexander’s ‘Alexanderkins’ is that they were meant to look like little girls, whereas Cissy is clearly a woman – perhaps in her early twenties.
With her high forehead, high eyebrows, small nose and mouth and large emphasis on highly-defined eyes with dark lashes, the Cissy Doll face mold is a clear reflection of 1950′s ideals of the female visage as they were publicized in the era’s advertising, TV and movies.
Cissy Dolls were produced in abundance between 1955-1959 and then again in 1962. In modern times, Madame Alexander introduced a new line of Cissy Dolls which continues to be produced to this day.
Cissy became an advertising star, her recognizable face and fabulous fashions gracing magazine ads for Yardley’s of London cosmetic company throughout the 1950′s and the ads can often be found at auction for a modest investment. Like everything else about Cissy, they have become collectors’ items.
Cissy Doll Clothes Her Greatest Claim To Fame!
Other dolls may vie for this title – Ginny Dolls, Just Me Dolls by Vogue, Miss Revlon Dolls and more – but Cissy endures as an icon in the doll collecting world because the skills that went into designing her garments truly deserve to be called ‘haute couture’. The choice of fabrics, the cut and design of the clothes and the stunning accessories represent the highest ideals of the fashion houses of the 1950s and looking at the Cissy Doll’s wardrobe today is like opening a time capsule.
Here at DollKind.com, we are just thrilled to be able to share some gorgeous photos of some absolutely beautiful original vintage Cissy Dolls in their stunning original clothing.
The above Cissy Doll recently sold for $595 at auction under the charming title Cissy Decides To Take A Sentimental Journey Down Memory Lane. Though perhaps not as colorful as some of the Cissy Dolls dressed in evening gowns and party frocks, I absolutely love the fashions this wonderfully preserved doll is sporting. Can’t you picture her at Grand Central Station, waiting to take a train to the country for a sunny vacation?
This dark blonde Cissy Doll’s 3-piece traveling wardrobe consists of a sleeveless white pique blouse with lace-trimmed armholes and red velvet bow at throat. Her circle skirt is of fashionable black-and-white houndstooth with bright red taffeta lining and petticoat, and her black gaberdine bolero completes the set.
Photo #2 gives us some close-ups of the details and accoutrements that make Cissy’s costume complete. She carries a black patent leather purse with black leather gloves peeping out, alongside a tiny edition of the New York Times. Her wrist is adorned with her original ‘diamond’ elastic bracelet and she wears a brilliant ‘diamond’ ring. Her hose and heels are just right for the period and her hat, which was carefully reproduced to match the original, is of straw bedecked with red flowers. The seller also added a black patent leather belt to match Cissy’s purse and the lucky purchaser also received Cissy’s black patent round zipper-closure suitcase. I consider this doll to be simply amazing in its detail, charm and condition. What a treat it is to share her with you today.
Did the above photo take your breath away? I know it did mine. This brunette Cissy Doll wears a stunning blue floral dress with elbow sleeves and blue lining. Sleeves are trimmed with dainty lace and Cissy is wearing pearls at throat and wrist. Her blue straw bonnet, trimmed with big white flowers, is tied with a wide net bow and Cissy’s got her sunglasses that are extra fancy with their rhinestone and flower decorations.
Don’t you think it’s fun to imagine the scenario for which Cissy has dressed with such care? I think this Cissy Doll is on a vacation in Santa Cruz, California and she’s going for a walk on the Beach Boardwalk. Her generous hat and sun glasses will make her comfortable in the bright California sun, but she’s not sure whether she’ll take a ride on the wooden roller coaster or not! Certainly, though, she’ll take pleasure in the sight of the waves and seagulls and perhaps a little picnic on the sand.
Two more wonderful vintage Cissy Dolls are featured in the above photo. On the left, we have a Cissy dressed in in ethereal spring green organdy, sprigged with pink blossoms and finished off with a wide pink satin sash ornamented with flowers. She is the very essence of a fresh spring day, isn’t she? And the choice of green sets off her red hair to perfection, doesn’t it? Cissy is wearing her pearls, and also an ‘emerald’ ring and carries white gloves in one hand. Her fluffy, ruffled net hat is brave with blossoms, too, and I can imagine that this is Cissy’s apparel for attending a springtime wedding. Perhaps one of Cissy’s good friends got married today…but no one has won Cissy’s own heart, yet!
The Cissy doll on the right is also a redhead, but here she is dressed in cool blue dotted swiss with pearly buttons and crocheted lace trim. Her wide blue straw hat – along the lines of a picture hat – is trimmed with large blue and white flowers, and Cissy has her pearls on. I believe she’s going to a meeting of some ladies’ league or club to which she belongs. Tea and dainty sandwiches will certainly be served!
If the earlier Cissy doll in pale green was on her way to a wedding, I think this blonde Cissy is going to a birthday party on a warm summer afternoon. Her cream dress with full skirt is wreathed in climbing pink roses and her airy puff sleeves should keep her cool. Her half-up-do hairdo is crowned by a gorgeous pink satin hat, with pink gloves to match and she carries a pretty pink tote-style bag. And look at those adorable pink and green shoes! Cissy’s fashion sense knows no equals. What kinds of gifts do you think Cissy would bring her special friends on their birthdays? Perhaps a set of pearl earrings like the lovely gold-tone ones she is shown wearing here.
They just don’t get sweeter than this original blonde Cissy doll in her heavenly sweater and skirt set. The kelly green wool felt circle skirt with big pocket is very like a poodle skirt and I think this ensemble gives us a slightly younger Cissy. Her frilly white blouse and exquisitely knitted cotton candy-pink sweater are just darling. Cissy wears pink drop earrings, has a pink bow in her ponytail and carries and youthful white purse with pink flowers. Dressed like this, I think Cissy is off to the malt shop where she’ll sip frosty sweet things while bobbing her head to her favorite juke box tune. I know Cissy Doll Collectors will love this special Cissy at first sight.
I sincerely hope the sight of these original Cissy Dolls had brightened your day and sparked your imagination. I want to extend heartfelt thanks to the gracious donor of the above photos, Karyn Shaffner. If you are looking for a Cissy Doll in exceptional condition, please visit her Ebay selling area: KRS1998. This wonderful seller has some of the best Cissy Dolls on eBay! She says that bringing them to auction is a labor of love.
Custom Designed Cissy Doll Clothing Today
The proof of Cissy’s lasting popularity may be found in the awesome talent and efforts that are being put into designing new clothing and accessories for Cissy Dolls to this day. At auction you will find everything from stunning evening gowns to exquisite hats.
I would like to begin by sharing with you a few of these hats which are as scrumptious as bonbons! Permission to display these photos was graciously granted by Louisiana Designer, Candy Edmonds whose label is Trebie’s Treasures. If you are looking for the finest Cissy Doll hats, don’t miss her eBay auctions under the seller name TCSN212. Candy Edmonds re-purposes vintage ladies hats and vintage costume jewelry into these delectable creations, worthy of window space in the finest fashion centers in the world!
Which are your favorites? I am wild about the cream pillbox hat and the red wool opera hat, myself, but all of them are beautiful and Candy Edmonds is always creating new hats for auction. Don’t miss out on them!
And then there is the custom designed clothing being created by both professional designers and home crafters for the Cissy Doll’s wearing pleasure. These two videos feature Cissy apparel that will bring tears to the eyes of avid Cissy Doll collectors.
Video #1 showcases the work of doll clothing designer Arlene Stakic whose creations are sold at DebsDolls.com. The ensembles form a dream trousseau for a military bride, complete with wedding gown, night attire, dresses and more. Just stunning!
Video #2 may make you almost jealous of your Cissy Doll for her gorgeous potential wardrobe! Here we see faithful reproductions of the clothing worn by Cissy in the celebrated Yardley’s ads and more!
Collectors Value Of The Cissy Doll
Cissy has become one of the most desirable collectible dolls of the 20th century. Avid collectors understand that they will be investing considerable funds if they are determined to collect Cissy Dolls and feel that she and her garments both old and new are worth every penny!
At auction, original Cissy Dolls with tagged clothing vary greatly in price from as little as $300 to as much as $2,000. Condition, rarity and desirability all play a decisive role in pricing. Trustworthy sellers will be completely transparent about any repairs that have been made to the doll, such as wig mending, joint mending, reapplication of facial color or what have you. Doll hospitals tend to do an excellent job at repairing Cissy’s flaws, and when you consider that the vintage dolls are now more than half a century old, some small repairs are perfectly acceptable to collectors.
Cissy Doll clothing, with original tags, may be found at auction in the range of $40 – $200. Accessories such as hats and shoes, which may be auctioned as appropriate to Cissy Dolls or other fashion dolls such as Miss Revlon, typically run in the $15 – $30 range. Desirability can fuel bidding wars!
New fashions for the Cissy doll are also very sought after when beautifully made. You can purchase new dresses to the tune of $30 – $100, but when designers have created entire trunk collections for a Cissy Doll, bidding can go sky high into the high hundreds or thousands. Charming new hats for your Cissy Doll, like the ones shown on this page, typically run in the $20 – $50 range.
Magazine advertisements featuring vintage Cissy Doll ads appear from time to time at auction, for as little as $20 to as much as $100.
The Madame Alexander Doll Company is still releasing new Cissy Dolls and they are sold in the range of $170-$300, most typically. I confess, these newer dolls do not appeal to me in the manner of the vintage ones. I think their facial expressions are somewhat vacant and their clothing tends to trade on the bizarre rather than the elegant, but that is just my opinion. The main thing is how amazing it is that the Cissy Doll has been beloved for more than half a century and she’s going strong to this very day. What a testament to the creativity of the Madame Alexander Doll Company.
Emotional Value Of Madame Alexander’s Cissy Doll Today
By now, you have seen the enormous care that went into crafting the original Cissy Doll fashions, and the remarkable effort that is still going into creating new garments for her today, both under the Madame Alexander label for new Cissy Dolls and under independent designer labels for the vintage ones. So what is this fascination with Cissy? I have a theory, and I would love it if you would comment on my thoughts at the close of this article. Get out your doll-sized hankie.
Little girls who are lucky enough to be gifted by their parents with a happy childhood grow up in a near-perfect world. Our lives and our minds were full of charming, lovely and fun things. Sooner or later, though, most of us have life experiences that teach us our world is not perfect. As adults, we face hardships, struggles, sorrows, losses and even tragic life-changing events. If you look back at your own life history, you know when everything felt glad and you also know when things started to get tougher.
I think that when adult women look at Cissy Dolls today, two things happen:
1) We see a reflection of our prettiest ideals of how we might have grown up. The Cissy Doll certainly looks like she knows how to take care of herself! Beautifully dressed, ready to go out on all manner of delightful outings, poised, pampered and cherished, Cissy captures something of our little-girl-imaginings of what the fascinating world of grownups might be like, and she looks as though life has turned out very well for her. In getting to own, dress and play with a Cissy Doll again, we are tapping back into those very happy times and ideals of childhood.
2) At the same time, I think there is something in the wistful, somewhat pensive face of the Cissy Doll that hints at something we have learned – that all is not quite perfect. If you look closely at Cissy’s face, does she look to you like she is reflecting on life experiences far beyond what a little-girl-type doll would normally ‘know’? Maybe Cissy’s family went through hard times during the Great Depression, or her brothers went off to fight in World War II or someone she loved had to battle polio. The expression is a mature one, I think, and when you look in a mirror, maybe you can see the story of your own life in your face, and the maturity you’ve achieved through having all kinds of experiences, both good and bad.
It is my belief that this combination of a look of life experience coupled with evidence of everything turning out for the best for Cissy is what captures the attention of ladies today who collect Cissy Dolls. No, very few of us are garbing ourselves in silks and satins to go the opera on a nightly basis, but there is something in Cissy that rings true to us, and I believe it is her ability to touch on our sweetest dreams while looking us in the eye with a measured glance that does a trick I feel is next to magic!
I can see why Madame Alexander’s Cissy Doll is considered unique in the world of fashion dolls. I think she promises us that, even if things have been hard at some point in our lives, we will still have many days and nights on which we can blossom out and shine. A lovely thought!
What do you think about my theory on the appeal of Cissy Dolls? Why do they appeal to you? DollKind.com would love to know!