Oakland Park, while small, is like a box of chocolates. Once you peer beneath the cover there is no telling what you will find. The other day, I peered beneath the cover and what I found fascinated me. I discovered that not too far from my house a doyen of doll fashion quietly creates miniature couture that is worthy of fashion’s most glamorous runways.
For the Love of Dolls
Ayal Armon was born and raised in Israel. He was always creative but it if not for the love of dolls he may not have discovered his flair for fashion. “As a kid I would love to play with dolls. My parents would get me some dolls and I would make outfits for them“. He further honed his sewing savoir-faire with his mother who taught him knitting, embroidery and other skills that would lay the foundation for making him a master of his trade.
Coming to America
Ayal did not receive a formal art education until after he completed his mandatory service in the Israeli army. After the army, he went to college to study fashion design. His program required him to complete a study abroad program and through that program Ayal came to New York for the first time.
“I came to work in New York and I just loved it. There are few places around the world when you feel like you belong there, and New York was like that“.
After he completed his bachelor’s degree in fashion design he packed his bags and made his way back to New York City. Portfolio in hand, Ayal came ready to conquer New York , but in his own words he relates “that really didn’t happen“.
Ayal then moved to California to try and break into the New York fashion market via Los Angeles. He opened his own business and began making clothes for different clientele, but “nobody famous” according to him.
Painting for the Sake of Painting
Ayal became weary of fashion and yearned to “…paint for the sake of painting“. So he moved to Florida and taught fashion illustration and fashion design before pursuing a Master’s in Fine Arts. He applied and was accepted to the Pratt Institute in New York and moved back to the City to complete his degree and to focus on painting.
While in New York he met his partner who lived in Florida. Soon the long distance relationship became impracticable and they decided to make the move permanently to Florida.
Becoming a Master Doll Couturier
About 16 years ago Ayal’s love for dolls was rekindled one day when he found a doll at Target that looked like a fashion model. He began to look for notions to make clothes for the doll and that opened up the world of doll fashions to him.
As he delved into the world of doll designs he began to perfect his art and become a master of his trade. Doll Bid, a community of doll lovers described Ayal’s designs as “…clean, with unnecessary fuss, using pure fabrics and hand-embellishment that radiate elegant simplicity“. Their description of his work is dead on.
Becoming a Master
Since he rediscovered dolls Ayal has literally worked on hundreds of outfits for dolls. The miniature couture that he elaborates and brings to life are made with a love and care that can only be born from the hands of a true master.
Every pleat on every skirt is made with his hands. Every button and bead on every dress carefully placed and sewn by him. Every stitch in every quilted fabric carefully created on his sewing machine. Every piece is elegantly lined and signed by him. And every flower, every single little flower on his magnum opus were made and sewn on with his own hands.
Ayal's Doll Fashions
Below are some sample of Ayal’s workmanship. He pays great attention to detail, carefully elaborating each piece into elegant and unique doll fashions.
He designed the goggles on the Steam Punk (top left) doll using watch parts. Detail of the flowers on the Primavera (top right). The pattern on the black skirt (bottom left) was made from a cricut machine and then placed on the fabric. Ayal made the quilt on the Jungle Ivory dress (bottom right) and then sewed each bead onto it.
Ayal’s attention to detail goes beyond the couture. He also re-creates the doll’s faces, makes most of the doll’s accessories and style’s their hair.
Despite being a master doll couturier, Ayal is amazingly modest about his work and truly a wonderful person to talk to. I am glad I opened that box of chocolates and had the opportunity to meet Ayal and learn about his work. I can’t wait to do it again and see what I find next!