I picked up this year's Store Exclusive Limited Edition Holiday Outfit, the Frosted Violet Gown, almost as soon as it was released, but only recently had a moment to take photos and review the set carefully. The starting price for the outfit this year is $58 (down from the $72 fail whale of a price last year that required multiple price slashes). As far as I am aware, this outfit is only sold in the stores, so if you don't have one near you, you can give any store a call and order this outfit through their Personal Shopping department (free service, no charge or gratuity).
Front of the Box
It's the standard design of the AG holiday gift boxes. The box is a very solid cardboard, much thicker than the normal AG boxes, and cannot be folded for storage. The swirls and snowflakes on the lid have glitter but fear not, craft herpes won't attack you because there is a glossy sealer like thing preventing any glitter from flaking off.
On the right lower corner of the box is a sticker showing the outfit, name, and what comes in the box. Super easy to peel off if you don't like it.
Close up of Bow
The bow is the same style (double loops with star hang tag), as previous years. This year it is made from a gold, silky/satin material. The star is cover in pink glitter on both sides and hangs onto the bow by a small loop. The star is not sealed with the glossy coating so the glitter will scrape off and overwhelm your fingers and all that you touch. XD
Back of the Box
There is a very subtle print on the back of the box, mirroring the design on the lid. There are 2 stickers showing the barcode & price, and another with the safety warnings.
Close up of Safety Sticker
In 3 languages! English (for the AG locations in the USA), French (for the Canadian locations), and Spanish (for the locations in Mexico). ^_^ Well, the company name is American Girl, and Canada and Mexico join the USA in making up North America so of course this makes sense. :D
Close up of Price Sticker
I think it was smart of AG to start the price off at $58 this year instead of attempting another $72 outfit. Last year must have been greatly disappointing for them to have to drop the price from $72 to $50 then finally to $25 to clear the stock.
What I really like about this year's bow is that the part of the ribbon that wraps around the box (not forming the bow itself) has a small piece of matching gold elastic. This helps stretch the bow on and off the box without worrying about undoing the bow or spending meticulous time aligning everything just right so the bow can be slipped back on.
Lid of Box
Underneath the bow is the AG logo. I love these lovely boxes, but I do wish they could be folded for storage. >_< 10 years down the line, these boxes could take up a lot of space on the shelf.
When you take the lid off, you see the outfit wrapped in tissue! Hark! You can see the first peek of the elusive gown! ^_^
The tissue paper is a little softer than the one used in outfit boxes, but still has the AG logo stamped across it.
Lift away the tissue and... TA-DA!
Lift away the dress and underneath you can see all the accessories that come with this outfit; a sequined shrug, sequined purse, headband, and sandals. It comes with the same amount of items as the previous two limited edition holiday outfits. The shrug is smaller than the cape from the first year and the white coat from the second year, but it is well made, and the starting price is lower so I don't see that as a problem.
Close up of Sandals
They close with non sticky velcro and are decorated with a column of 3 amethyst colored stones on the front. Although sandals are not stereotypically associated with "winter", it's not uncommon at all for warmer states and Mexico (and the southern hemisphere) and this is not an issue for me.
The stamps on the two shoes are different! Is this normal? I've never paid that much attention. I'm just glad there's no giant ego tag attached. ^_^
Stamp on other sandal.
Back & Bottom of Sandals
There is a tiny heel, and the sole of the shoe is textured.
Side View of Sandals
The loop that goes around the ankle and has the velcro is actually moveable (slides) so you can adjust it as needed.
Front of Purse
So many sequins! There is a cluster of plastic crystals attached to the right side. This is not on the back or other side. The handle is just a simple chain sewn down to the corners.
Close up of Side
The purse has a very solid weight to it (it better after a suit of chain mail was sewn to it!), and does not feel cheap or plasticy to me, unlike the lightweight plastic handles from the special holiday dress last year.
Back of Purse
Inside the purse
Boom ego tag! I knew we couldn't escape it completely! The purse does close with velcro and that is one of the few things I dislike about it. The small square of velcro is easy for little hands to play with, but for an adult me, it does feel tacky.
Purse turned inside out.
You can see the velcro better in this photo along with the big pile of ego. XD The volume of the purse is not great so this will end up being more decorational than functional.
Top view of purse closure.
You can see the two ends of the metal chain handle are simply sewn into the sides of the bag with matching thread. I did not test the strength of these seams, but I would not trust them to life more than a paper clip, maybe 2 if you're really adventurous.
Headband Side 1
Check out that sizable ego tag! And you thought the purse was ridiculous. ^_~ I don't know why AG insists on attaching these tags to small pieces like handbands in such inconvenient places, but there ya go.
Headband Side 2
Close up of Decoration
I do like this decorative piece. It is a light purple, matching the color of the stones on the shoes, though these are obviously more plasticy (I think the ones on the shoes are at least glass, if not actual stones). There is a little bit of asymmetrical netting underneath, sort of like a veil gone crooked.
Side View of Decoration
You can better see what I mean when I say the netting asymmetrical in this view. It's just one layer, and it does not look like it will fray, unless you really pick at it with your hair brush. (Please don't do this...)
Ego Tag Attachment
Now if you're not happy with having so much ego on your headband, it looks like it would not be too difficult to carefully snip the seams holing the tag on. If you are worried about this possibly reducing the resell value of this later on, you can also roll the tag around the headband and tape it in place.
The inside of the headband is lined with a simple, pink ribbon.
The sides and top of the headband are covered with a silver, fuzzy material. Warning! The silver fuzz does come off in the hands, even with gentle use. It feels similar to the stuff tinsel is made up of.
Now we can move on to the dress, modeled for us by the beautiful Lady Scheherazade! The dress fits her comfortably with a little wiggle room, but the largest of the PM dolls may still have a squeeze getting in.
I think the headband is particularly flattering on dolls with darker hair because of the contrast. I did struggle to get it put on the hair without it looking strange or messing up her hair, but that is problem I have with AG headbands in general, not just this one.
However, I did have a problem with the side of the headband. It seems the two ends are too short and neither side reached down to the ear, instead remaining about a half centimeter above on each side. This was frustrating because it allowed several small clumps of hair to escape below and made styling the hair that much trickier. I wish the headband had been made just a tad larger.
You can also see that this is what the giant ego tag looks like when it is rolled up and help in place with a piece of tape. It is still visible, but much less obtrusive compared with before.
Close up of Bodice
The bodice takes a little getting used to, but it has really grown on me and I like it now. I'm glad it's not the asymmetrical shoulder this year. The design reminds of me Art Deco style.
The design on the bodice is actually a combination of 3 different elements. The silver is overlapped sequins sewn together, the zigzags are purple and grey embroidery, and the purple links are a decal on the dress. I do like this part and think it really makes me visually interesting without being too busy.
Close up of Skirt
The skirt of the dress is lavender, taffeta like material (like parachute or wind breaker fabric) with several rows of tulle netting wrapped around it in layers. The hem is asymmetrical and has an off centered "peep" space that shows off the sandals very nicely. You can see how the tulle netting layers almost overlap each other, like a wrap skirt. I was very apprehensive about this skirt, but I actually think it was carried out well and looks great on a doll.
Sandals on Doll
No complaints! The fit is good and the doll is balanced and stands easily in these.
Back of Dress
The back of the dress is plain, and is not blinged out like the front of the bodice.
Close up of Back of Skirt
You can see that the back of the skirt has an even hem, and somehow, those tilting, curving rows of netting on the front are all straight and perfectly even on the back. I'm not sew savvy so I can't explain how this happens, but I like it. If the back had mirrored the front of the dress, I would have felt it to be too crazy, but as it is, it is a nice balance.
Who in their right mind thought it would be smart to use super sticky velcro (that's right, this is not the non stick velcro, but the regular super sticky velcro) on a dress that is 99% tulle netting? I was mortified on seeing this and had to be super aware and careful the whole time I was putting the dress on and taking it off Scheherazade. I ended up putting a piece of tape over the velcro when changing her to prevent pulls and holes in the skirt netting, as well as save her wig from being yanked out by the roots.
Side view of Dress
You can see the transition from curving rows of tulle in the front to... magically straight rows of tulle in the back! :D
This is what the entire ensemble looks like, with the purse and shrug added.
The purse does not hang perfectly straight because the side with the crystal cluster is pretty heavy and pulls that side of the purse down. I ended up having to hook the chain of the handle in the pinky and ring finger space to hold it in place, but once I did that, it stayed pretty securely.
Now let's move on to the shrug, aka a skinned disco ball. The fit of the shrug is very nice and does not make the top of the doll look bulky or chunky.
The shrug has a purple plastic "gem" button and closes with a grey elastic loop that slips over this button. I did struggle a bit getting the loop back on, due to the funny shape of the button, so I can see this potentially being a technical, hands training sort of endeavor for children. However, overall it was not a problem and it did look like both the button and elastic loop were securely sewn on so I could yank at it without too much fear of it snapping off.
The inside of the shrug is fully lined, including the collar. XD When you pop the collar and spread the flaps of the shrug open, your doll can pretend to be an evil queen! Mwahahaha! Off with all the plastic heads!
Back view of Dress with Shrug
The shrug is short and does not go all the way to the waist. I don't think this is skimping on AG's end, it's just the current fashion trend. Since the inside is lined, you don't have to worry too much about the velcro. However... all the king's horses and all the king's men can't save you if you get the sequined exterior of the dress caught on the velcro. >_<
Close up of Back of Shrug
This is not something I would ever wear a human sized version of, because I am terrified of the sequins coming apart in the wash, but I think it looks very chic and cute on AG doll scale. ^_^
Plus... I'm a magpie and sparkles bring me much joy.
For those who are seamstresses and are considering how to put together your own version of this dress, here is a photo of the skirt with some of the ruffles lifted up so you can see the construction.
I am not too sew savvy so I'm afraid I can't offer any specific details on how the dress is put together. There is only one later of tulle netting for each layer, but it does not look like it will fray. The tulle material is not as soft as the scalloped tulle from last year's Ruby Red Ballgown dress. This year's tulle is stiffer, probably to hold the skirt out more and give it shape.
Front of Dress Turned Inside Out
Here is the dress turned inside out so you can better see how the thing is put together. :D
Close up of Skirt Front Turned Inside Out
You know what they say! If you can't explain it, inundate them with photos and let them figure it out on their own! :D
Close up of Skirt Back Turned Inside Out
Okay, I know many people are not fans of this outfit, but I personally love it, even if I wish the color was different. :D I like how over the top and crazy formal it looks, like a quinceanera dress! Also the sparkles. So many sparkles. ^_^
The components of this year's set mirror last years: dress, outer wear, purse, shoes, & hair accessory. It is well made, and the design has many quality elements, such as the different textures on the bodice design, to the peep hem in the front with the spiraling tulle.
For the $58 price tag, I think you get a good outfit. It would be beyond overpriced at $72, but $58 seems to be a reasonable starting price to me, when compared to other AG outfits. I do not know if there will be massive discounts on this dress like last year's, or if it will be a quick sell out like the year before.
As always, if it is something on the "must have" list of your, don't delay or you run the risk of missing out completely. If you don't have a store near you, give the personal shopping line a call at any store and ask for it to be shipped to you.
Hopefully hopefully hopefully with all my fingers and toes crossed, next year's special holiday dress will be GREEN! ^_^