Hi Everyone please let me introduce to you the wonder that is Julian …..
My name is Julian Stanislaw Richard Kalinowski and I have been involved with Sasha dolls since 1989, 28 years to be precise.
My parents are Polish
My father’s side of the family were shop keepers. My father had been a chauffer to a rich woman in Warsaw and during the 2nd World war my father became a soldier.
(Below a photo of Julian’s, father in his uniform)
Julian’s , Maternal side of the family had been Farmer’s and were permitted to grow poppies by the Government for medicinal purposes, his Great Grandfather was a Baron.
During the 2nd world war at the tender age of 15 years old, Julian’s mother was put in a truck and taken away by Nazis. She was put to work in a German slave camp, where she was kept until liberation
Upon release from the camp Julian’s mother left the camp in rags, only to be picked up by a handsome soldier and given a dress to wear.
Julian’s mother would often tell him this story exclaiming that, “ it was the best dress I ever had, that dress your father gave me…. It only had one sleeve, but it was still the best dress!”
(Below is a photo of Julian’s mother not long after her release from the camp.)
Another memory that Julian has of those terrible war years, was told to him by his Aunt Olga, when she had to defend her brother from a marauding German soldier.
My favourite Auntie , Ola , my fathers sister,
( who in later life had a huge peroxide blonde bee hive hairdo ) was chopping vegetables in the kitchen in Warsaw during the uprising . Her other brother, Stephan (my fathers name was Stanislaw ) , ran into the kitchen , chased by a German soldier . Ola said ‘quick , hide in the cupboard !’
So Stephan hid and the soldier ran in , gun in hand.
‘Where is he !?’ The soldier demanded .
Over there said Ola , and as he looked away she ran at him and stabbed him to death .
That night she and Stephan threw him in the river .
My family were not made of spit and tissue .
After the war Julian’s parent moved to England.
Julian grew up in a small country town in Hertfordshire called Baldock.
My parents were poor and we lived in a council house.
My mother worked as a cleaning lady and in a factory at night making nylons.
(Above a photo of Julian’s parents in the 60’s)
Around the little estate our house was on were idyllic fields and a great big wood called the ‘Western hills ‘. I had a bicycle and I spent every moment I wasn’t at school in the fields or climbing trees. Making camps . I knew every inch of that countryside. Your eyesight is amazing as a child. I remember I caught lizards. I would fish in the pond in an adjoining village. I had a tree house in the garden.
I admired my father’s old guns. We are now in the 1960’s and my sisters are much older than I.
(Above a photo of Julian as a child)
In the 1960’s I’m aware of undercurrents of change in society.
My sisters were sophisticated. They had jobs. They had been to university. They had their hair cut at Vidal Sassoon and wore clothes by Biba.
My sisters they went to see Underground films and read OZ magazine.
They noticed I was different, I’d always want to wear pearls, I was sent home from school for wearing them. My sisters would say to my mum and dad ‘he’s one of the children of the new age’. I always walked with my head held high.
My dad worked for British rail and my parents gave up on disciplining me at a very early age . I was very wilful.
The best part of my Dad working for BR was that the whole family got free train travel. I had my own train pass. So from the age of about 10 I was hopping on the train to Kings X from Baldock , alone ! Not a penny in my pocket and just, walking the streets.
Now as I’m writing this I’m aware that it sounds rather alarming. But nothing ever happened to me. I just absorbed the wonderment of the city and watched the people. The respectable ones as they hurried to and from work commuting and the outsider people , as I came to see them, the street people and the prostitutes , who always fascinated me with their unusual fashion looks and worldly ways , kind words and warm but sad eyes.
I’ve always liked warm people who have lived hard.
As a child I had my ‘boyish’ side, attending a catholic boy’s school. But I felt genderless. My convent school was beautiful, with hidden gardens, statutes of the saints and a waterfall. I was taught by nuns; some kind, some strange.
I always loved dolls. All toys. Robots, action men.
But my parents were very poor, those 60’s toys were expensive and there was stigma attached to boys playing with ‘feminine ‘ toys. Gender roles were rigid.
I always thought that was silly , but you’ve no autonomy as a child because you don’t earn your own money , so you’ve not got much choice really but to go along with things.
I had a lovely Barbie and some hand me down ones from the next door neighbour. I always wanted to know how they worked, so I’d pull the skin off the bend leg dolls to expose the mechanism. Or pull them apart to see how they were put together. You know good toys really are rather wasted on children!
(Above a photo of an older Julian with his Barbie collection)
In the late 60’s my older sister Basia took me down Carnaby St .There was a shop there, it may have been The Design Centre. Maybe it was Tridias?
(Below a photo of a shop front in the 1960’s
(Below fashion from the 1960’s)
I remember the big Design Centre in the Strand. That was full of Sasha dolls. Standing amongst the Eames furniture.
So I knew they were really good things.
Anyway, Basia was buying things for her first flat, she’s about 15 years older than me.
That’s where I saw the Sasha dolls. But I also seem to remember the TV show ‘Tomorrows World ‘ ( that was a famous BBC show,) on every Thursday, that informed us about all things modern and new . Anyway, I knew that these dolls were part of ‘the sexual revolution ‘, they were dolls for girls AND boys, they were doing away with all those awful limitations.
I could have a boy doll that didn’t carry a gun. Remember this is the 60’s and even children knew about Vietnam. Well, I did.
Some of the dolls were ‘unisex ‘, they could swap gender. And their clothes were unisex. This was all wonderfully liberating and modern and what I wanted to be about.
I remember going into this shop on Carnaby St and seeing those wonderful tubes, the crayon tubes. Even the packaging looked futuristic. Something from a Sci fi film. But those dolls were expensive and Basia wouldn’t buy me one. And no way was my mum going to because she struggled to feed us.
I also remember visiting a friend of my sister Ursula and she had a Sasha. I loved visiting because while they gabbled on about student rights and women’s rights and stuff I could quietly sit and hold this beautiful, heavy doll.
(Above a Sasha Studio doll, Julian says, She was mainly done in pencil on translucent resin.
I bought her about 15 years ago at Christies in South Kensington.
When I saw her I couldn’t believe how lovely she was. She had one of those wigs, the colour of which is almost lavender. I got caught up in the bidding and won her.
A mate I was with told me that I turned green with nausea when I comprehended what I was going to spend after I’d paid all the auction fees . She was expensive. I’m glad I owned her, But to be honest I find the scale of the Studio dolls overwhelming and would rather have a good factory doll.)
Well then , when I hit early teens I was full of confusion. I read a lot. I almost lived in the library. Adult books that I didn’t understand but that I gravitated towards. Books by Jean Genet and William Burroughs . Picture books on Andy Warhol. David Bowie was very important, references too many things that were important came up in his lyrics.
I’d bought a Bowie record with my pocket money. I liked the record cover, no other real reason. It was synchronicity really.
So I’m 13 and what was I? I didn’t fit in with anything. I didn’t want to be a boy or a girl or heaven forbid, a ‘grown up ‘. That sounded like something redundant.
Luckily something called ‘PUNK ‘ happened and that was a safe umbrella. It didn’t matter what you were, male, female, in between, gay, straight, black or white.
All that mattered was that you listened to very loud , exciting music with lyrics that said something about your life , the consumer society , the politics of boredom , not ‘love ‘ or any of that rubbish and expressed yourself through dressing up (which teenagers of my generation loved , you’re inarticulate at that age , your only real way of communicating your difference is visual , and also because you could go to a jumble sale and , literally , buy a whole bag of amazing 1920’s clothes for 5p !) . Anyway, I was safe amongst the punks. I was only a little androgynous thing but they made me feel safe and accepted.
(Photos’ of Julian in his punk day)
I had a best mate called Jean, mad Jean from Welwyn garden, she wore 1920’s flapper dresses and had a giant bee hive hairdo and wore two pairs of false eyelashes, and she and I had a super 8 camera. We pooled our pocket money for it.
My early teens were spent making films (many of them with our old toys and dolls as actors), going to punk gigs, and not a care in the world beyond our hair, makeup and what outfits we were going to wear.
I was expelled from school and sent to a college to do my exams. What a relief!
I loved the freedom. Then I did ‘Art History ‘ as a degree. But I dropped out because I’d found out that there was a wonderful night club scene happening in London. I was at university in Leicester by this point. I weighed things up; and I thought ‘I can return to education at any time, but I’m only young once and I’m going to damn well enjoy my youth ‘. So I moved to London and went out every night for years. I supported myself with market research jobs. I also became a fashion designer after taking a pattern cutting course at the London College of fashion. I took my stuff in a bag to a shop on Sth Moulton Street off New Bond St. I had all the arrogance of youth and this shop called Bazaar took the stuff and for a while that’s what I was; ‘ a fashion designer ‘.
Then a stylist for fashion mags. I supplemented my income by selling second hand clothes on Camden market
(Above Julian modelling his own jacket for ‘The Face ‘ magazine , 1985
(Above art work Julian produced for a magazine in 1989)
Below a brunette red dress and a brunette Gregor similar to the first one Julian owned)
While I was snaffling about in charity shops and jumble sales I started finding 60’s Barbie’s and was amazed at the quality of their clothes. I started collecting them.
By the late 80’s Christies auction house started selling ‘lots’ of 60’s Barbie’s. The stuff became valuable and I started dealing in it. I had a stall at Alfie’s antique market off the Edgware rd. then. I’d bought two Sasha dolls.
A brunette girl in a red dress and a brunette boy. They didn’t have the ‘oomph’ appeal that I’d remembered them having as a kid. I couldn’t date them. I was ignorant then. It was about 1989. So I was at one of these Christies auctions…
I Remember, I was quite young. Most of the characters then at these auctions were old fuddy duddies . If you saw a young face, well you gravitated towards them.
I saw a pleasant young girl and I introduced myself. She was interested in the Barbie’s too. Her name was Maddy .
(Below a photo of Julian’s friend Maddy)
So we were having a good old chat and I asked her what she was into (doll wise). Sasha, she said. She said she was from the north, that the town where the Sasha factory was, was near where she’d grown up and she’d had these dolls all her life. I invited her over to mine for a dolly evening. She was a student then, Art History, I think. Anyway, she came over a while later with about three dolls. She identified my dolls as mid 70’s. We ate pizza, drank Diet Coke. Listened to old punk music, had a laugh. Those dolls she bought. One was a late 60’s one, one a 70’s one. Neither of those was very interesting (to me) .And the ones I’d bought (they were about £50 each I remember, Angel market is where I bought themfrom) those were really boring . She said ‘oh you’ll only get about £70 each for those you know, mid 70’s, nothing special. ‘But look at this doll I got for £50 ‘ she said. Now this doll.. it had some cut hair , was generally a bit filthy , but it was just …gorgeous . But Maddy and I didn’t get it yet.
We became good friends. She was just down the rd in Tooting I think. I was in Clapham. Whenever she visited she bought this doll .Eventually we noticed things, the thick hair, the centre part . The upper lip like a tortoise (as we saw it). The hand painted eyes with no pixilation from printing like the other dolls. These thick, arched eyebrows that were really weird and reminded me of the eyebrows on the first, hand painted Barbie’s. Quite an ‘adult face ‘ really. And very impressionistic, in painting style, graphic, sophisticated.
Maddy introduced me to a girl called Cassandra Cooper. Cassie lived in Notting Hill and she and I hit it off straight off , despite her being 15 with hair down to her bum and being everyone’s idea of a ‘good girl ‘ and me , at that point , looking like Kurt Cobain in need of a bath . Cassie had quite a lot of dolls but not one like Maddys special one. She said she’d seen one at Kensington doll show though and she wished she’d bought it. We thought maybe the smooth upper lip was play wear. Finally it dawned on us that it was a different mould. By that time we were aware of an American Sasha collector newsletter. I wrote to the lady who published it. I wrote my observations. We were looking for ‘spider numbers ‘ on heads and things like that at that point. Very intrigued we were.
(Below a photo of Julian’s friend Cassandra)
I don’t know if the information that Maddy, Cassie and I proffered had any credence? Maybe they already knew all about the NP’s? It’s a long time ago and who gives a monkeys uncle? One of us had found out about the Graphis mag feature by then and that really did it for me; these are proper, serious design, I realised. So, me Maddy and Cassie, we had our little ‘Sasha coven’. This is about 92 or something. The three witches obsessing over these dolls that we knew nothing much about. One night Maddy came round and said she’d visited a lady that had a Sasha that had markings on its head and back and crudely painted eyelashes and that it was called a Gotz . Cassie and I sat in wonderment. It was like we’d discovered that you could make a fire by rubbing two sticks together.
There was a newspaper then, ‘Collectors United ‘ and I think it was through that I saw an ad from a Swiss lady called Mrs Cuc.
I sent her £850 and bought what turned out to be a No nose blonde boy. Bloody hell, it was an ugly thing, but I couldn’t believe I owned it. Lot of money too!
(Below a no nose similar to the Julian brought)
Below a photo of Julian and Michael O’Brien)
One day a funny little chap rolled up wearing thick national health glasses held together with a sticking plaster. He had a Bristol accent. I had a Sasha knocking about on my stall. ‘My mum collects those ‘ he said poking at it. We chatted a bit, he was nice. He liked punk rock, interesting clothes and Roxy Music.
His name was Michael O Brien. A little while later I and Cassie Cooper were doing a stall at Kensington doll show .Maybe it was 1992/3. Michael rolled in with a baby pram. It was his daughter in it. ‘I’m looking for Sasha dolls for me mum ‘ he said .Cassie gave me a sideways look and whispered ‘rubbish, he’s buying them for himself ‘.Anyway, me and Michael got matey and he was very ‘train spotter’ , which I liked.
He was half Swiss so he knew about the Gotz dolls.
All this time we are all hunting for NPs. Found one at Notting Hill market for £50.Another at Ardingly antique market for about the same. A lady I became very good friends with gave me my first one in 1991. Jackie Plumb. She’s passed away now. At shows they were about £300 but they were usually in the boot of some dealer’s car and they started making ‘bidding wars ‘ between us. Suddenly interest became very intense and the scene became competitive. That wasn’t a very nice period really.
A lady called Susanna visited from NY. She was doing ‘very serious research.’
It all started being about elastic; two black lines in the ‘S ‘ and a purple in the ‘Z’, or something. Susanna Lewis was an interesting and intelligent lady. I have fond memories of her. Many afternoons with her in my London flat and me visiting her in New York at her amazing Brownstone house ( she and her husband had amazing taste )
Susanna was absolutely key in what happened later. The pioneer in real research.
I drifted out of it then. I still love Sasha dolls but now I like buying cheap waifs and repainting them.
In my 40’s I became involved in doll manufacturing myself. So I suppose dolls were always my vocation and remain so. .But with me it’s the people, the camaraderie, the social aspect .
I’ve owned ‘high end ‘ ‘important ‘ studio dolls, had lots of rare Gotz , rare NPs.
But now a waif for £100 that I can repaint and spend a pleasant evening making a dress for.
That’s much nicer.
(Above and below, Julian with the beginning of his Sasha collection)
(Below a photo of a wonderful Japanese cloth bodied studio doll once owned by Julian) studio doll once owned by Julian.)
I would like to say a big thank you to Julian for taking part in this series. once again I would ask that you do not copy or download any of these photos without Julian’s permission.
Thanks for Looking……..