Take A Look Inside New York's Iconic Madame Alexander Doll Factory

Madame AlexanderAltagracia Villa at Madame Alexander’s

Photo: Robert Johnson

Born above her father’s doll hospital in 1895 Brooklyn, it only made sense for Beatrice Alexander Behrman to go into the family business.She was 28 when she started a company that would both manufactur and repair its own dolls. Since 1923, the Madame Alexander factory has been producing the haute couture outfits found on Alexander’s top figurines and receiving dolls from around the world for repair.

Madame Alexander dolls are known to millions for their unique design, quality construction and details like eyes that close.

The factory, which offers daily tours, is a piece of living history in Harlem.

We took the train to 125th in Harlem. A left turn on 131st and there it is #615

Definitely the right place

The pink and green paint and this very oversized chair by the elevator gives a kind of doll house type of vibe

Oklahoman Melissa Iseman takes our small group to the gallery

The gallery holds every doll Madame Alexander makes and sells but it's dim, with mirrors everywhere, not flash photo friendly

From there it's to the studio where designers sketch out clothing for the collectible dolls

Collectibles like this Tony Curtis doll that sells for $750

This marionette looks down on the room seeming like a fixture from Madame Alexander's day

A book of embroidery designs sit next to best seller Fancy Nancy as inspiration for a new wardrobe

On the way out of design is this wall of heads sitting on hooks in the wall -- the numbers beneath each must make sense to someone

A huge sign says there is no photography allowed in the sewing rooms -- trade secrets abound

But, the sewing room manager Faizad Khan gives the go ahead as long as the shots don't include any new dolls

Like all the seamstresses, Altagracia Villa has customised her sewing station

Glasses on, Altagracia gets serious and shows how the handmade clothes are stitched together

The clothes go on collectible dolls like this

Clothes for the Fancy Nancy are designed here, but made and shipped from China

Surrounding Greta's desk are dolls people sent in and didn't want returned

They'll fix anything from eyes to hair to reattaching limbs

This is the doll head Melissa was holding in her previous picture -- Madame Alexander created the first set of eyes that close when the doll is laid down -- a pretty big deal

The eyes come in almost every colour imaginable

More fabric -- it fills the room

Doll bodies -- fresh from China

The heads on spikes sit next to the hat maker

The hat maker sews all the bonnets from a single piece of fabric

The hospital dress maker sits on the other side of Greta from the hat maker -- dress maker, hat maker -- feels a little Alice in Wonderland

Dolls to fit the dresses on, lay next to the dress maker

Boxes to ship the assembled dolls -- FAO Schwartz sells a ton of Madame Alexander dolls

Create your own doll is a big attraction -- these are laid out for 29 girls coming later for pizza and doll dressing

And like every good tour, this one ends in the store -- half price dolls everywhere

Madame Alexander has been there for 88 years, but that's not the oldest factory in New York

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