Faerie Glen, ping pong and Blue Peter
Update 16 May 2020
I put together a lovely set of Faerie Glen shoes recently which are quite hard to find. They are unusual in that they aren't moulded plastic and look very hand assembled. I would guess at 1960s as the era as flat shoes were more fashionable at that time.
Original article 2 November 2018
If you collect doll's clothes, you may have stumbled across 'Faerie Glen Wear Made in England' doll clothes. They're very distinctive outfits and after a while you spot them at a glance just by the style and design. But they often come with intact labels for an easy ID.
This is a typical example - slightly frumpy shape, striking 70s floral print and lurid trim.
And this beauty, complete with kipper tie!
Googling doesn't always come up trumps (tip - try Bing sometimes - Google is not the only search engine!). Searching for "Faerie Glen doll clothes", I hit a wall of pinterest, eBay and Etsy links and not much else. But take a breath, drag your eyes away from attention grabbing Mod outfits and try one last time with a new search term. Bingo! A page from "British Dolls of the 1960s" by Susan Brewer delivers a cup cake size story...
"Hook and Franks Ltd used the trademark Faerie Glen on their dolls as well as on their extensive range of dolls' clothes."
Apparently the company was founded by a lady called Daisy Franks and her daughter Peggy.
"...who later became a presenter of the popular television show Blue Peter."
[I see Ms Franks had a slot on Blue Peter in 1959 'dressing a doll' ].
According to a filmed interview in the 1960s, their company had a staff of 350 and turned out 5,000 tiny outfits per day!
Watch the British Pathé archived film of the interview. It's absolutely stellar. I love the design studio / factory which appears to be someone's living room, artfully draped with cloth and looking more like a shop window display. Peggy looks very 'Sindy' in her plimsolls, playing table tennis at the start of the film. She was very sporty and "represented England in every table tennis championship since the [Second World] war".
According to Susan Brewer in her book "Collecting Classic Girls' Toys", Faerie Glen did very well with children's dressing up clothes too.
I'm definitely a fan of Faerie Glen. There's something a bit awkward about the designs which adds to their charm. That kind of 'ugly beautiful' that's nice when it's consigned to history and you can look back on it a bit wistfully.
The outfits are very much improved in quality if you swap the hook and loop fastener (which tends to be very sloppily sewn on) for pop fasteners.
See a wonderful array of Faerie Glen on this terrific Pinterest board by Carolyn Cunneen.