LA NICETTE DOLLS

Dominique Pennegues


Gaston Casimir Perrimond, creator of La Nicette dolls, was from La Rochette, a village at the edge of the Alpes de Haute Provence and Alpes Maritimes, perched around the ruins of a castle. The beauty of the place where he grew up probably generated in him the need to reproduce and target perfection.

Gaston Perrimond came to settle in Nice when he was still a young man in the early '20s, at the same time a young talented Italian woman, Elena Scarvini, reached international acclaim with her famous all felt dolls "Lenci", already well known and appreciated in the south of France, sensitive to what was happening to its nearest neighbourhood.

 

Denis Giotti, had also started in 1919, a similar production with  "Poupées Magali" as trademark, and their success probably encouraged Gaston Perrimond who understood quickly that incessant comes and goes of rich foreigners on holiday were likely to stimulate trade for luxury items, such as the ornamental dolls.

He quickly turned to this type of production, with the production of animals, as well as cloth doll dressed in Nice costume, and for which he recorded two trademarks in 1924: "NICETTE" (probably reserved for cloth stuffed toys) and "LA POUPEE LA NICETTE" for "a cloth doll." Nicette is a rare female name which suddenly became fashionable in the south of France in 1923. One may note that Gaston C. Perrimond wished also to suggest the provincial origin of its production by the special design of one of the first logos, with its trademark "La Nicette" in the center of a ring of colorful fruits which grow in the south of France.

The quality of its production of cloth dolls allowed him quickly to find a satisfactory market position across the Atlantic, also the reasonable price of its beautiful creations competed with the expensive Lenci dolls of the time.

It is fair to say, given the number of LA NICETTE dolls found in current American collections, that his goal to become the first exporter of French cloth dolls to the States was easily reached, as a pioneer in France (with Magali dolls) on the external market, and no serious rival in his debut: Venus dolls were reserved primarily for the French market, and production of Raynal dolls had not yet begun.

This fine production is distinguished by the creating of dolls for children to play, and more luxurious dolls for adults for decoration, knowing that the two types of dolls could play either of these roles , apart from the rare and precious Boudoir dolls.

When we look carefully to La Nicette dolls from the second part of the 20's, more precisely from 1926, we see that they have the head slightly tilted and turned to the right, and looking towards to the left . One can also observe that almost all the dolls La Nicette made in the 20s had a thoughtful, melancholy expression. They were produced in different sizes, and dressed in organdy and felt.

Some dolls made for decoration only can't be undressed, and their fine linen panties are usually sewn to the body, as are the socks. Mohair hair is sewn directly to the skull,  or can be on a wig.

Gaston C. Perrimond also placed on the market of the twenties and early thirty someall felt ornament dolls mesuring 20 cm. These "tinies" or "mascot" or "fetish dolls" have seen their presentation to improve over the years, and were eventually luxuriously dressed in the late twenties. Their quality and competitive prices have allowed them to compete in the early thirties with their Italian elders of similar size which appeared later, in 1929 (1).

At the end of the twenties, the prosperity of its company G. Perrimond allowed G. Perrimond to open a showroom in Paris, Faubourg Saint Denis, and a department for export rue Paradis, while maintaining the main office and making place in Nice.

The Nicette dolls were mainly sold in France by Galeries Lafayette and we can see these dolls on the annual catalogs of this famous store.

 

Gaston Perrimond is the first major French manufacturer to have followed the example of Stefania Lazarska the placing on the market of French babies felt drunk. This very fine production will be another article.

We note that to date, most of the dolls Nicette we could find belonging to British and American collections, which confirms the vocation exporter manufacturer. "Made in France" stamp appears on the underwear and baby dolls exported, and many of them are with the label The Nicette, one of the import company "Kimport Co." who was in charge of the sale to United States.

The dolls Nicette kept in France are most often identified by dealers and collectors as the Raynal dolls, the similarity of the productions is undeniable, even if the confusion is very unfair towards Gaston Périmond, including dolls and babies were, with Lenci dolls, an "inspiration" is to Ms. Gold Raynal that used for the clothing of her dolls and babies, small strillés similar to those used for dolls and babies The Nicette buttons.

In 1935, the family resemblance Nicette The dolls with dolls Venus, Clelia and Raynal was found enhanced by the use of new molds for doll heads, which all seem to come from the same Parisian manufacturer. These dolls are distinguished from each other by the way the lines are painted by the manufacturer's label that appears on the soles of the shoes and the back of the medals in gold metal and the model of cloth hand, celluloid or rhodoid .

Production dolls Nicette The fabric was completed in 1940 with the restrictions imposed by the Great War, and was not subsequently reversed, any more than were those of their French counterparts.

 

(1) Lenci The History and the Dolls by Nancy Lazenby.


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