The London Fashion Doll Festival is being put together with love and care by a team of collectors who want to give attendees the very best experience they can. We wanted to share some insights into the process and those in the team who are involved. In this article, we will meet Sofia Kalaitzidi our designer and one of the driving forces behind the Festival. Sofia is the one behind Microsonik London and the Fashion Gift Set each attendee will be receiving. Some of you may also know her from the Facebook group, Fashion Doll Collecting UK.
Sofia has also been working closely on this project with Claudio Coronado Turrubiates, a very talented textile and graphic designer, and the one behind our rather fine crown logo. He has helped Sofia with custom fabrics made especially for the gift set. Having seen what they have in store I can assure you that no-one will be left disappointed!
We can also reveal that Sofia is also busy creating 6 of the 12 OOAK centrepiece dolls which will be unveiled at the Festival and which attendees will have the chance of winning. More about this, and who else is involved, will be revealed at a later time.
I caught up with Sofia recently and asked a few questions about her design process and about Microsonik’s involvement in the Festival.
Could you tell us about your design background?
Growing up I was surrounded by lots of fabrics, pins and scissors, my mom was a professional musician, but had a passion for making clothing at home and she used to do a lot of dressmaking as a second freelance job. I loved it all so much! I used to help pinning or chalking the pattern pieces on fabric for my mom. Since then I never stopped making clothing, either for myself, or mine and my sister’s dolls. I went to the local art school, I enjoyed painting, but I never realised I could actually work in a creative industry in the future back then. My parents had something else in their mind for my future, after school I went to do a degree in Spanish and English linguistics. I loved studying foreign languages, but I never gave up on my creative side.
A few years later after moving to London I made a few friends, realised that I was really interested in fashion and as a result, I ended up working for a manufacturing company as a design assistant. Soon I decided to take it all very seriously and applied to London College of Fashion (University of Arts London) and began studying fashion design. I absolutely enjoyed the 4 years at LCF, it was an unforgettable experience. After finishing my degree, I worked in high-end fashion designer brands on the technical side as I felt more strength and passion while actually producing something with my own hands. Later I moved completely to the technical side of the design process and concentrated on creative pattern cutting. Pattern cutters do clothing engineering from initial sketch ideas to finished product. It is a design process that happens in 3-dimensional shape. At the moment I work for a fashion manufacturer/supplier company as a creative pattern cutter.
What are your design influences when it comes to designing for dolls?
High-end Fashion! At work, I see a lot of beautiful garments that we create and fabrics especially with small pattern weave structure or print so I constantly see and think of what could look very cool on dolls. I always look out for anything that would fit dolls, crazy I am, even while shopping I’ve got this mentally attached minimiser tool in my head and I measure anything I see to fit my dolls as part of accessories or in doll dioramas.
Tell us about your collection and what you enjoy about the hobby.
I started collecting dolls 9 years ago. I was researching everything about modern and traditional Japanese culture as it was a major inspiration for my final year at London College of Fashion. I came across Momoko dolls and 12 inch Volks. For me, it was exciting to see something interesting that is not designed for children to play with but for adults to enjoy! Deeper research opened up endless Pandora’s Box of doll collecting hobby to me. And I just dived into the Wonderland of beauty and art in the form of Fashion Dolls.
I completely fell in love with the whole concept of 16-inch fashion dolls. Smaller dolls are beautiful too, but as I’m more of a creative player with dolls I find that scale scary as it’s way too tiny for me to make something (laughs). However, I do have a couple of vintage Barbie and Sindy dolls in my collection.
Mainly though I collect (or should I say play with) 16-inch fashion dolls by Robert Tonner, Superdoll Collectables Sybarites, Fashion Royalty 16 inch and Poppy Parker Fashion Teen dolls, I love my Jason Wu Advantguard dolls and Fashion Doll Agency Paris dolls. I also have a Jamie Show doll in my collection, Couple of action men in 17-inch scale by Enterbay. Let’s say I’m interested in any 16-inch scale dolls, and there are plenty of them all on my wishlist. I still have a long way to go – I hope many more years!
How did you become involved in the LFDF?
I was very lucky to go to Madrid Fashion Doll Festival a couple of years ago, where I met my dear friend Ibrahim Ismail, who also lives in London! We decided to meet up in the city and him new few more people that we invited to join us, this is how I met Simon Farnworth, so we started up a London Fashion Doll Collectors Club! That’s why it’s super useful to go to doll Conventions (wink wink) as you meet wonderful people who share your passion and when playing dolls goes live it’s the best experience ever!
In our doll collectors club, we somehow started talking about how wonderful it would be if we had a convention in London. Collectively we decided that we were just going to make one happen! And I’m so glad we did!
Can you tell us anything about the fashion exclusive that you have created for the festival (no spoilers, LOL)
The Festival theme centres around Wonderland. To me, it means it has to do with my favourite book “Alice in Wonderland.” I also love the Disney cartoon, I love Tim Burton’s films, I basically love anything that has to do with that concept of unusual and even slightly psychedelic. But also it is a very British theme to me that makes me think of English Gardens and Afternoon Tea and especially if I have in mind summertime in the UK and Royal Ascot!
The gift sets are done in both 12″ and 16″ scale. All I can say Isuppose that it consists of 3 items in each set. The idea was to cater for both scale collectors and to create something that any doll in that scale could wear!
I should also mention at this point that I am in fact working in collaboration with textile and graphic designer Claudio Coronado Turrubiates, who has done incredible work on textiles in particular for this gift set!
I am really excited about it all, we are both putting in all of our professional experience into creating something really lovely for conventioneers to enjoy.
How have you found your collaboration with Claudio?
Claudio is an extremely lovely guy! He is a major talented designer himself, full of ideas and passion for what he does! He is very attentive to details and always listens and will always strive to achieve the perfection in his design. He will always go an extra mile and beyond to deliver the best he can! I love working with him because we both seem to understand each other very well, we look at many aspects of work in a very similar way. We just click on and that happens really rarely in life, so I am very grateful to the universe I have met him.
Finally, why should Collectors come to the Festival?
Life is full of stress and we all need something exciting to keep ourselves going. We all need this little another planet where we can just enjoy our hobby. Doll collecting is a passion to many of us and it is our wonderland in a way. A place where we can admire art and beauty and meet loads of new friends who are as mad about it all!
I have gone to a couple of conventions myself and in a way, it changed my life for better since. I keep in touch with people I met there. Now I’m here doing this project and I’m friends with extremely lovely people, I couldn’t dream of friends like these!
The first time you walk into a room full of people that are looking like completely ordinary adults, you don’t realise what is going on, but then you start understanding that all these people share your passion, share your hobby! It’s a magical feeling, magical experience being part of something exciting as our hobby, but actually experiencing it not only virtually but physically in presence! One’s you’ve been to an event like this you want more! It transforms you into another better you, the “you” that you probably didn’t allow yourself to be before.
On this particular occasion, I would like to welcome you all and everyone to the wonderful city of London. If you haven’t been to London already I have to tell you It’s one of the most beautiful rich in culture cities in the world. And besides, there is a doll festival that is open to all scale fashion doll collectors! I’m sure it will be a wonderful experience!
Thank you, Sofia for taking the time to taking part in this interview and for all the hours of hard work you are putting into the fashion gift sets and the OOAK centrepiece dolls. I can’t wait to see the reactions when all is revealed on the 30th June!
Still, haven’t registered to attend? Be sure to do so now!