Gothic Charm School’s Jillian Venters Interview of Robert and Joe – Getting Dark

If you missed this wide-sweeping and detailed Interview by Jillian Venters of both Robert Tonner and Joe Petrollese it is a must read for any Tonner  Doll or Wilde Imagination – or Tonner Toys – fan. All sorts of questions about inspiration, exploring the “darker” side of fashion and play abound. It is just chalk full of details and revelations. Why Tim Burton? How hard is it to start designing clothes for your own dolls? Where did the Goth doll idea originally come from?  Why the toy market? Be sure the read the whole Lady of the Manners article here, but below is a snippet of the interview goodness.


The Antoinette Desire Outfit


from The Doll House: Tonner Doll and Wilde Imagination!

Gothic Charm School: Now that you’ve created an Antoinette “Goth Basic” doll, and the stunning “Desire” outfit, are you going to create more fabulous haute couture designs for her? What’s the reaction to that version of Antoinette been like?

Robert: Both our “Goth Basic” doll and the “Desire” outfit are doing very well, and as I am in business, we will be doing more products in this style!

Gothic Charm School: How much training and practice does it take for a designer to learn to translate conceptual drawings to textiles? How would you suggest someone interested in designing original doll garments get started?

Robert: Wow, there is not an easy answer to your question. I have an extensive fashion background—I designed clothing in New York for almost seventeen years. Joe, my design director did clothing for even longer—so we both have the background. The pattern makers that we work with all have professional experience also. However, having said that, a person with sewing experience and a love of fabric (and good taste) can create original garments. It’s just that you have more control over your art the more you know about the tools. As I say to anyone who wants to try something—get started! The sooner you start, the faster you’ll get better at it.

Gothic Charm School: What was the inspiration for the Sinister Circus line? And can you give the Gothic Charm School readers any hints as to what interesting things are in the works for that line for 2012?

Robert: The original concept behind Sinister Circus was Joe’s (Joe Petrollese of Wilde Imagination). We had been looking for darker subject matter for a while and we both thought Circus’ could be kind of creepy! We really enjoyed creating those characters. And, I’m very pleased to say that we have a Sinster Circus book with a book agent currently. Hopefully the book will be published this year. We’ve been holding off doing a lot more until we see where the book is going. However, we do have a few characters in work that are, well, sinister!

Gothic Charm School: What made you decide to work with Tim Burton characters for the Re-Imagination line this year? Did Mr. Burton have any input as to what the Ms. Beetlejuice and Corpse Bride dolls would look like?

Robert: We’ve done the Re-Imagination line for a few years now—the first group were Goth fashion versions of the ghosts from A Christmas Carol and they were big hits. We go back to that line every year with something different and this year, we wanted to give the Tim Burton properties a try. Although we’ve never met Mr. Burton, Joe and I are big fans and, from what we hear, he likes what we do (we’ve done many Tim Burton projects). Joe sketched a few samples of what we wanted to do and he approved them. We were both thrilled that he liked the concepts. We would love any input Mr. Burton would want to give, but so far, he seems to like what we come up with.

Gothic Charm School: How do you decide which media properties you want to approach to make dolls from? Is it a case of what really grabs you artistically, or which characters you think would translate well into dolls?

read the rest of Lady of Manners article here!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *