Deconstructing Vita Richards

Who is Vita Richards? A complex question because Vita exists on more than one level, as many of us do in today’s world.

Vita is, of course, a doll who is manufactured by Horsman Ltd. She was sculpted by Dorinda Balanecki and her jointing, unique in the fashion doll world, was designed by Kenneth Young in conjunction with Dorinda Balanecki. Urban® Vita burst on the fashion doll scene with an open and joyful personality at a time when many dolls were pouting and a few even going so far as to snarl! Along with her friendly face, she possessed an ability to assume human poses which delighted the collector market. Her body style allowed her to share clothing with most of the dolls on the market at the time which was a boon to long-time collectors who had amassed lots of fashions. Of course Vita also has her own extensive wardrobe. Shortly after her introduction, she was produced as “Urban® Vita Expressions”. A doll with changeable face plates which allowed her to change expression and added another dimension to her fantastic ability to pose. These additional sculpts also gave an exciting new palette to re-paint artists. Along with the face plates, Urban®Vita could also change her eye color with inset eyes which, due to being held by a small bracket inside the face plate, were easily adjustable giving even more expression to her face for collectors who loved to photograph their dolls. So on one level, this is Urban® Vita. But as true doll lovers know, this is just the vinyl and plastic that covers the real heart of the doll.

So, who IS Vita Richards?

Vita Richards was not always a style trend-setter with an enviable talent for combining the best looks of fashion through the decades. In fact, as a little girl she would have been quite surprised if she could have looked into a crystal ball and seen where she is today. Spending most of her time in t-shirts and jeans, young Vita would have never believed that she’d one day be scooting through New York’s canyons of stone, glass and steel in her Mini-Cooper named “Dolly” while making quite a name for herself in the world of high finance. But I’m jumping ahead.

Born on August 9, 1983 Vita Richards grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the only child of Valentina and Vinton Richards. She was to have a wonderful childhood filled with all the delights of adventures with friends, good times with her family, and plenty of time to dream about what she’d do when she grew up. One of her favorite ways to pass the time when it was too rainy or snowy to play outside with friends was to go up to the attic wonderland of their big Victorian house in which three generations of the Richards family had lived. The house was built by her Great-Grandfather and left to her Dad when his Father died. Over years and generations, the attic had become a treasure trove of elegant old trunks and hat boxes tied with faded ribbon ... all just waiting to be investigated and admired by a young girl. Often Vita would try on gowns and dresses, hats and gloves from generations past and dream that she lived in those days. Looking at the fine handwork and the beautiful fabrics of these pieces instilled what would be a life-long love of vintage fashion in the Vita’s heart. Even as an adult, her parents would tease her that rather than coming home to visit them, she came home to go upstairs and play in her ‘treasure boxes’!

Vita was a good student and showed a surprising aptitude for both math and languages which eventually led her to follow her parents' wishes and study International Economics in college. Her girl-hood dream of living in a city like New York came true when she was hired by the investment firm of Seward-Wilkes to be a junior executive in their international division. So at 21, Vita bid farewell to her home town and moved to the big city!

As good fortune would have it, Vita’s college roommate, Zhonti, was doing an internship with one of the major TV networks in NYC, and they set up their first apartment together. The girls had great fun shopping for furniture and blending their design ideas into a place that was both functional and fabulous. As time passed, Zhonti’s career path would take her into film production and necessitate a move to Los Angeles to be near the heart of the industry. Even though they hated to be a continent apart, it gave both young women a good excuse to practice ‘bi-costal chic’ and visit each other’s home cities as often as they could. By the age of 29 Vita had made a significant mark on the world of international finance and secured her future with Seward-Wilkes while Zhonti had produced an award-winning short and was working on her first feature-length film. Both were well on the way to great success.

That she loved to travel was fortunate because Vita’s work often took her to Europe or Asia for consultations with various financial firms. In each city she would always try to make time to search out unique shopping locations. It was a rare trip that she not come home with several vintage treasures found hidden in quaint dusty stores languishing on a
little-traveled side street in an elegant European capital. Her mixing of fashion decades always gave the outfits that Vita wore a unique style and a more sophisticated flair than most of her contemporaries. When visiting L.A., she always made a point of getting Zhonti to take her to see the fabulous clothing tucked away in the costume rooms at the studio where Zhonti was working. Vita often said that it was good they never left her alone there ... she might have given in to a touch of larceny!

While attending a very high-level convention on International Trade and Economics held in Oslo, Norway, an unexpected snow storm required a postponement of the opening meeting and gave Vita a mini-vacation. Glad that she always arrived a day early for these events, Vita decided to contact a local tourist agency and request a guide who could help her discover all the delights of Oslo and the outlying regions. Vita’s guide was named Ysla Larsen. When Ysla suggested a visit to a small museum which housed a collection of ‘bunander’ which, Vita learned, is the Norwegian name for its many various folk costumes, the two women discovered that they shared a passion for fabric arts. During their travels in the two days before the opening of the conference, Vita discovered that Ysla’s hobby was knitting and that she combined this skill with creating fabric collage using yarn and quilting along with beading and decorative hand stitching. In fact, one of Ysla’s art pieces was on display in a beautiful craft museum which they visited. A great friendship quickly developed between them and Vita promised herself a longer vacation trip to Oslo while issuing a standing invitation for Ysla to come visit her in New York. On her final day in Oslo, Ysla gave Vita a parting gift of one of her smaller art quilts. Vita was touched by this generosity and the quilt, which she cherishes, is now has hanging in her hallway to remind her of her far-away new friend.

No one has yet claimed Vita’s heart, but she has been seen about town on the arm of a screen writer who worked on Zhonti’s latest film. Of course, she’s also been seen having cocktails with an up and coming attorney from one of the city’s top firms, and the paparazzi snapped her dancing with a rather charming cousin of Ysla Larsen’s who deals in Scandinavian furniture and art. Mrs. Richards would like Vita to find a nice young man and settle down, but only time will tell if she’ll get her wish. Meantime, Vita is enjoying every fashionable minute of her life in New York City.
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    The Story of My Life

Autumn's Arrival

I have to say that this just might be my favorite time of year. In the city, we don't see the change of seasons that much, but the good news is that I can hop into Dolly, my Mini-Cooper, and ride up the Henry Hudson Parkway to see beautiful fall color. Last weekend I visited friends in Conneticut and we got a headstart on carving pumpkins for Halloween! That really put me in an 'autumn' frame of mind.

And, the really good news is that its getting to be sweater weather. I adore a finely knit sweater that is well proportioned for my 'dolly' size. The Urban Chic Boutique has had some adorable designs and I've just 'had' to buy a couple. I even found an outfit called "Winter" that has knit leggins and a cozy matching knit sweater. Just perfect for sitting in front of a fire with a cup of hot chocolate!

The Boutique had an outfit called 'Autumn', and that clearly spoke to my 'Fall is here' frame of mind. The jeans that go with this set are the most fabulous fit of any jeans I own! They look great and still allow me to sit without popping the button at my waist. Even if I've eaten too much!
And it comes with a super pair of cowgirl boots that I use all the time. My fall wardrobe got a boost with all the mix'n match items. A blouse, vest, coat, jeans and boots! You really can't beat that.

Time to plan what I'll do this weekend. You can be sure that I'll get out and enjoy nature. Even if it is only in Central Park!
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    the sound of falling leaves

Happy Birthday, Dear Vita

Happy birthday to someone who really is a doll and who shares many good time with me!

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    The happy birthday song

My Visit to Flam, Norway

If you ever have a chance to visit Flam, Norway be sure to take advantage of the opportunity. What a magical place.

As I had mentioned, Ysla's brother and his family invited me for a visit while I"m here. Thank goodness they did because otherwise I might have missed this place and my wonderful cruise on the fjord.

I really think I could leave NYC behind and live here forever! The waterfalls were just magnificent. Brekkefossen falls could have held me entranced for a whole day if we hadn't had so many other things to do. Erik had to work, but Hanna and May joined Ysla and me for a day trip on the scenic railway. "Scenic" is the operative word! I couldn't take photos fast enough! I had hoped we'd see Huldra, the beautiful blond troll who tempts young men in Norse mythology, but she must have been elsewhere because even though May was dilligent in her search for the mystical creature, she never caught sight of her. Her Mom said that maybe it was just as well because Huldra is usually nude! And she has a cow's tail! However, she's quite the seductress so maybe a cow tail has appeal that I've missed!

Erik's business is doing charter cruises on his beautiful boat, and since we had quite a bit of 'pull' he really gave Ysla and me the royal tour! Stunning, beautiful, ... I don't have enough adjectives! It will be a high point of my entire life I am sure! I truly hope that one day the Larsens will come to NYC and let me return the hospitality.
20-259111 flam

Ysla and I are heading back to Oslo now, and on Aug. 9, I'll get to celebrate my birthday in Norway! Isn't that a super birthday present?
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    Norse folk music

I've Arrived!!

I've been so busy since I got here that I have been remiss in telling you about all my adventures.

First I'll show you what that talented Ysla made for me and had hanging on the door to "my" room.
As I expect you figured out, it says "Welcome". Wasn't that thoughtful?

I do have a funny story about what happend to Ysla, her brother and her niece before they left to meet me at the airport.

Ysla and her sister-in-law were talking about a snapshot from the 50's which Hanna had found in a box of photos that her mother-in-law had given her and which showed Ysla's mother and grandmother wearing a"Mother and Daughter" outfit. They were saying that they wished that style would come back to fashion as it was so cute. When Ysla's niece, May, saw the photo she started begging Ysla to make an "Aunt and Niece" outfit for them to wear to the airport to pick up her friend from America. Always an indulgent aunt, Ysla did just that. Here's a shot just befor they left of Ysla and May with Ysla' brother, Erik.
While the adults were chatting, May decided to climb a tree in spite of the fact that she was wearing her new dress!
Dad got her down with little damage to the dress, but he couldn't save her from a lecture about 'appropriate behavior' from her annoyed aunt! In spite of this, everyone was in great spirits and looked wonderful when I got off the plane!

This week we are in Oslo and are seeing the sights and doing all kinds of 'tourist' things which I'll tell you about. Next week we are going to visit Erik and Hanna and May. He owns a charter boat and does all sorts of wonderful tours of the lakes and fjords for visitors. Lucky me! I get a personal tour of the beautiful area in which they live. This is just the best vacation ever.
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    cheerful cheerful

I'm On My Way To Norway!

As I write that, it sounds like the title song for an old Bob Hope/Bing Crosby road movie, doesn't it? 3672 miles to go and I'll get to spend time having fun with my dear friend Ysla Larsen. I can't wait!

The flight is about seven and a half hours, and it shouldn't take much longer than that to check-in at the airport and get on the plane! I'm leaving now, so I'll post as soon as I get to Oslo. Ysla tells me that her brother, Erik and his daughter, May are going to come to the airport with her to meet my plane.

Erik and his wife have invited me to visit their village. It is the one on the lake that I put in a previous post. I cannot wait to see it! I've been promised a cruise around the area in Erik's boat.

This is all so exciting. Vidar (Ysla's handsome cousin) has volunteered to take me to the airport and even meet me when I return. Don't tell anyone, but that makes my heart beat very fast! I might be blushing!

I'll post more from Norway! Ser deg senere That means "see you later".
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    the sound of traffic

A Highly Treasured Gift

I just had to share this with all my dear blog-buds. I was given a surprise gift by Ysla's cousin Vidar. Last year when he went back to Norway, he took a wonderful photo of Ysla and her horse, Snowbound (that's the English translation of her name) and now he's turned that into a painting for me! So much artistic talent seems to flow through that family. It took my breath away and I think I've found the perfect spot in my apartment for it to hang. I thought I'd share a photo of it before I get it on the wall. I was just too excited to wait. What do you think?
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    New age sounds

Norway, Here I Come!

As my vacation time gets closer, I'm getting more and more excited about my plans to visit Ysla in Norway.
Since Ysla lives and works in Oslo, that's where we'll begin our travels. We're so excited that we've managed to co-ordinate our vacation times so that I'll get to have Ysla as my full time guide and travel compaion for the whole visit.

I think I've mentioned that Ysla's cousin, Vidar Evenstad, has an import/export business here in NYC and we see each other quite often. It would be wonderful if he were going to Norway with me, but that just won't work out this time. However he has made some suggestions of places to see and excitng things to do while I'm there. luxury-destination-norway-nature-wonders (10)
He's suggested a trip to some of the small towns where I can really get a sense of the essence of Norway. Wouldn't it be wonderful to take a boat out on that gorgeous water? I wonder if that could be arranged?

Ysla sent this photo of Oslo in the early evening. I'm positive we'll have terribly exciting times. I've been to Oslo before, but it was always a business trip and that never alowed me enough time to really get to know the city. Hopefully we'll go to some of the wonderful craft museums since we both love fabric arts of all sorts. There is a viking ship museum that should be amazing, and the Norsk Folkemuseum just can't be missed. I'm working on a long list of things I want to see and do!
Did I mention that I plan to save plenty of time to shop? You know I love to mix modern styles with vintage touches and I'm thinking that a few folk costume bits and pieces will need to come home with me. I'm all excited just thinking about it.

This winter I had a chance to brush up my skiing skills so I do think that a trip to the ski museum will be a necessity! Norway and skiing just seem to go hand-in-hand, don't they?
Here's Ysla in front of the ski lodge we visited in upstate NY during her visit.
And here I am getting ready to hit the slopes! Who knows? I might even treat myself to a new pair of skis. I'm pretty sure that I'll at least get a knitted hat and gloves.

Just writing this blog entry has made me want the time until I leave to just fly past! But not too fast. I am having dinner with the handsome Vidar tonight, and he has promised to give me more ideas of things to see and places to visit!

Sometimes I just love my life!!
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    just the sound of rain on the windows

Confessions of a Bad Blogger!

Yes, that 'bad blogger' would be me!
Here are my excuses: Ysla and I had such a wonderful visit and so much fun running all over NYC that I was completely exhausted by the time she headed back to Oslo. Then, before I knew it, it was Christmas and I went home to spend the holiday with my family. Remember this winter? Well, I got so snowed in that I was beginning to think I'd never get a flight back to NYC. The good news is that working in international finance means that all I really need is a computer connection, so work went on and all was well. I secretly was delighted to get to spend more time back in Anne Arbor, MI. I wish Ysla could have stayed through Christmas as she would have felt right at home in that weather.

I'm back in NYC now, and Spring is beginning to be felt and seen. Fashion Week has come and gone and store windows are beginning to show signs of thawing out from winter wear. Much as I love boots, it is going to be fun to get back to wearing some high heels again! Ysla had the most gorgeous black pumps with a platform and high heel when she was here. Would you believe that we wear the same size shoe? I got to try them on, and now I am determined to have a pair for myself. Are they comfortable? Of course not! Do they look great? YOU BET! You know that saying, "What price beauty?" … well, the answer seems to be "sore feet"!

Here is a snapshot I took of Ysla wearing those shoes that I love! Aren't they great?
Ysla really has that "European" sense of style that I've decided to implement in my wardrobe as well. She uses such classic pieces and can mix and match her wardrobe to just make it seem infinite! I need to learn how to do that. But I can't give up my wild vintage and retro looks. Those have to stay.
Here's my exciting news. I've got a business trip to Norway in a couple of months and still have a bit of vacation time. If all goes as planned, I'll get to stay in Oslo for a few days after I finish my work there and Ysla and I can play! I promise to share all the excitement with you!
Meanwhile, I'll just say, "Happy Spring" till next time.

Sights to See in NYC

Ysla's visit is getting closer and I'm putting on my "tour guide" hat and trying to think of great things to do while she's here. I know that the top of the list will have to be a visit to my favorite Urban Chic Boutique because they always have such terrific items in stock. Ysla will just love going there, I know. Next, I'm planning a walk down 5th Ave. If she's not 'shopped out' we can stop in Bendel, Saks, Tiffany and, of course, FAO Schwartz! Lunch at the Plaza? You bet!
I also thought we should do a trip to the Statue of Liberty, and we'll see if we can climb all the way to the top! Guess I'd better do some extra arobic classes to prepare!
Even though the temps are getting chilly, Ysla is from Norway, so I think she'll be able to handle a ride around the island on a Circle Line boat! I hope I dont' freeze to death!
I've bought tickets for two Broadway shows that I hope she'll enjoy. Her cousin, who has been living here since his post-college days, is going to join us for one of the shows. He's quite charming and I've enjoyed getting to know him through my acquaintance with Ysla. Did I mention how very charming he is? :-)
I've also signed both of us up for a class on making holiday items at the Textile Arts Center. And we'll definately go to the American Folk Art Museum. Ysla is such a talented artist herself that I know she'll enjoy looking at the works of other talented people.
If anyone has more suggestions, I'd love to hear them!
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