Tina Cassini (made in British Hong Kong) was the first fashion doll that I owned. Her debut was in 1964 which matches my recollection of being about 5 years old when she was given to me (although I no longer recall if she was my birthday or Christmas present).
I can remember I was thrilled to have a doll with beautiful dresses (and they were gorgeous) to dress up, but I was also a little bit baffled because I had asked for Barbie. Even at such a young age and so many years ago, brand power was already a major marketing force and I was no less susceptible to it than the next person.
I think Tina must have been more easily accessible and her outfits more readily available in South Africa than Barbie who was also considerably more expensive when sold outside the USA.
As can be seen in an earlier post (Vintage Barbie and Skipper ) I was given Barbie a short while later, but Tina was the first doll I saw as a fashion icon.
I googled Oleg Cassini (1913-2006) and discovered that he really was a famous fashion designer. Born a French count, he became an American and designed for well known personalities like Jacqueline Kennedy, creating a unique look all his own. Tina (short for Christina) was his daughter. The doll is supposed to represent a fashionable girl who is younger than Barbie or her contemporaries.
Tina's fashions were lovely and there were quite a few more outfits available than those contained in this booklet. My version of the doll came dressed in a beautiful ball gown - yellow satin covered with lace shot through with gold thread. She had a flower corsage similar to the one above.
I had a few of the outfits shown here and the one I can remember liking the most was the pajama set as the shoes had little yellow pompoms to make them look like slippers. I can also remember a wedding gown and a stunning pink and black cocktail dress. I keep hoping that I will come across it somewhere, worse for wear but tucked away amongst my possessions.
The accessories were a lot of fun. A set that particularly appealed to me was the one below called 'Travel Time with its cute little suitcase.
Unfortunately I no longer have my Tina doll - I think I must have played with her until she disintegrated. I was curious to see what she looked like with adult eyes so was thrilled to discover a site called Barbie Planet that contains both photographs and a history of the doll. The site is Russian but translated quite successfully. I borrowed this image from it as it shows the version of the doll that I owned. I had a blonde Tina and one of the accessories I remembered immediately when I saw this picture was the little stand you strapped her feet into so that she could balance on her own (it was quite clever and worked well.)
I don't know why Tina was not more of a success story. I think her downfall was that she is a curious mix of adult and child. Unlike Barbie (who is very much a grown up) Tina has a child's body and dimensions but her sophisticated outfits belong to an adult. Even as a young child I found this contradiction slightly disconcerting and her trademark bubble cut hairstyle also seemed slightly frumpy to me.
Today Tina Cassini is a sought after collectors item. There seem to be very few dolls left in mint condition but I have found this one available for sale on eBay by a French seller - I've included a link to the shop called darkisyou which contains an interesting collection of dolls and outfits.
This Tina is retailing for EUR 109.90 - a bit too much for me to consider buying at the moment but she does bring back lovely memories!