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Michelle Amir, personal assistant to Elizabeth Arden’s U.K. managing director, has fond recollections of the very first doll outfit she made: an old fashioned Little House on the Prairie–style dress with blue stitching on white calico. “My mum taught me to sew and I’ve been making dolls’ clothes since I was about five years old,” she recalls. “I was practically too small to use the sewing machine!”
These days she uses her seamstress skills to run up costumes for the vintage dolls she shoots for her rather unusual hobby of doll photography— creating images of dolls engaged in everyday domestic tableaux, from trips to the hair salon to a spot of shopping.
Her colleagues all knew she was obsessed with dolls, so one day last autumn, Arden’s celebrity brand manager asked Amir to come up with designs to clothe some limited-edition bottles of Nicki Minaj’s debut fragrance, Pink Friday. (The flacons are modelled on a bust of the pop star.) “I thought it was just a throwaway comment but I made some sample outfits,” says Amir. The rest, as they say, is history.
Amir designed, and at time of writing, is hard at work over a sewing machine, running up four different outfits to dress some 400 bottles for the scent’s launch at Selfridges in London. “Actually, it’s more like 660,” she notes between stitches. “We have to make extras for press and bloggers.”
Each of the four creations has a name. Whip It Like Minaj consists of a studded peaked cap and plunging bustier in black PVC, while Duchess of Pink, a pink tutu and beret, incorporates Minaj’s signature ice-cream motif. Starships Minaj features a fashion-forward blue hood. The fourth outfit remains a secret, to be unveiled by Minaj via Twitter to her 15 million followers at the fragrance’s U.K. launch on March 15. Although the component pieces can be made in bulk and Amir is getting a helping hand from her colleague, finance assistant Hollie Barbury, the project is proving far more time consuming than she ever believed possible. In the run up to delivery, she’s had to reassign two days a week from her day job to cope with the additional workload. While she concedes that “never in a million years did I think I’d be making doll costumes at the office,” for Amir, it’s all in a day’s work. “Even if it means working weekends and staying up all night to get it done,” she says, “we’ll do it!”