The Dolls exhibit at Harajuku’s La Foret Museum fittingly examines how dolls have evolved from prized artifacts to modern play things and fashion muses. Given the cultural prominence of this once seemingly trivial toy, the exhibit gives overdue recognition to the importance of those plastic icons.
Barbie is well represented in the show, but the apparently ageless blonde is something of a recent induction to Japanese pop culture. Before her came Blythe, with her blimp-like head and massive twinkling eyes to match. Blythe pushed Barbie out of the market years ago, clamping down on the young girls segment, while Barbie made a comeback as a teen brand with clothing lines and her celebrity collaborations to match (check out the Jason Wu x Barbie dress on display).
Just as antique European dolls have captured generations of fans, a new high-end doll movement has also gained speed in Japan. The dolls are extremely detailed, and no strand of hair or stitch of clothing is left undone. An anime character, (nor a human being) could look more life-like than being incarnated as a Super Dolfie or as Gentaro Araki’s U-NOA dolls, which are so real you could almost swear the soul-bearing creatures are staring at you.
The exhibit features more than 100 items, which will be on display from April 29th to May 10th, and includes special collaborations and exhibits with celebrated doll makers in Japan’s industry.