Robert Tonner’s early interest in creating immaculately detailed drawings led to a career in fashion. After graduating from Parsons School of Design, Tonner was hired by Bill Blass, designing the Blassport label for many years. Throughout his 7th Avenue career, Tonner’s spin on modern American dressing continually caught the eye of the fashion world’ s trend-spotters—his designs were frequently featured in Women’s Wear Daily, Town & Country, New York Magazine, The New York Times and Vogue.
Tonner’s long-time fascination with doll art inspired him to try his hand at sculpting original figures. In 1985, Tonner received a glowing review from the National Institute of American Doll Artists (NIADA) for a model-like fashion doll he created for critique. During the years that followed, Tonner turned more of his attention to developing and perfecting his doll designs, eventually leaving 7thAvenue to start the Robert Tonner Doll Company, Inc. in 1991.
Tonner’s dolls have been displayed in the Louvre and his exquisite, immaculately proportioned designs have earned him the exclusive rights to bring: Harry Potter, The Big Bang Theory, Twilight, Avatar, Superman, Spider-Man, Gone With the Wind, and a slew of other film and comic book characters to doll-like life around the world. In 2003, Tonner bought one of America’s oldest doll companies, Effanbee, which made the porcelain Little Orphan Annie, Patsy and Brenda Starr dolls. Wilde Imagination, Inc., another Tonner venture which brings a rich assortment of dolls and stories to its passionate collectors, began in 2006.
In 2007, Tonner opened his first retail store in the heart of New York’s historic Hudson Valley and the place where he calls home, Kingston. The Tonner Company Store offered exclusive dolls as well as many items Tonner and Effanbee manufactured worldwide. Now known as the Tonner Doll Showroom, it is a destination for collectors who are invited to line previews, private parties and to share in the Tonner Doll experience. The showroom is also open on an appointment basis.