This is the story of how a series of exquisite handmade dolls, representing the history of French haute couture made their way to the United States as an expression of gratitude.
The year was 1948 and France was still suffering from the effects of World War II. Housed in boxcars and dubbed the “Friendship Train”, American aide organizations had sent large-scale relief the year before.
Now it was France who wished to show its gratitude for America’s generosity by creating the “Gratitude Train”—a set of 49 box cars filled with French-made gifts, like handmade toys and priceless works of art.
The French fashion houses banded together to create something very special.
They tasked their most talented designers with creating a set of fashion dolls that would show the evolution of French fashion.
Measuring 24 inches tall with bodies made from open wire, the designers used human hair to fashion the hairstyles.
Using period paintings, literature, and fashion plates as references, each designer chose a year between 1715 and 1906.
Representing their creative interpretations, the designers used the same level of care and attention to detail as they did for full size work.
It was a unique moment in the history of French couture.