Synopsis of Toy
As devoted to the 1970’s as you may be, Tomy’s toy Fashion Plates weren’t the first fashion plates that the world had seen. In fact, the late 18th century found hand-sized rectangular plates that were regularly passed around among designers, merchants, manufacturers and artists to illustrate dress styles. But soon they were found in the clutches of fashion aficionados everywhere—not just the industry’s craftsmen anymore. They were published widely, and often made appearances in early fashion magazines. And by that time, they had evolved from basic sketches to very intricate drawings with idealized subjects and bright colors. Today, antique fashion plates are widely collected. As a group, they chronicle the course of old fashion trends, and individually, the fancier ones are considered art.
But let’s get back to the 70’s, when the toy company Tomy borrowed the fashion plate idea and came out with their Fashion Plates set, aimed at little girls. Thin plastic plates had indented drawings of different skirts, pants and tops, which designers-in-training could then mix and match to create an endless array of ensembles. Just arrange the plates in the cradle base, slap some paper on top, and run a black crayon over the figure. Then, with the colored pencils that were also included, flip the plates over to select the raised-up textures of your choice, and set to work coloring your creation in. Try to stay inside the lines, of course—this is couture we’re talking about.
What with the different textures and all the top/bottom combinations, you could sit at your kitchen table and design for hours. In terms of the available hanging space on the refrigerator, well, most of that belonged to you now, thank you very much. Finger paintings of clouds and trees, however sweet, just don’t hold a candle to high fashion.