Friday, June 8, 2012

The William and Catherine Royal Wedding Barbie set by Mattel

The only dolls that followed me home from Manhattan last weekend are the William and Catherine Barbie dolls that I found at the massive Toys R Us in Times Square. I had seen this set in pictures online and been slightly interested, but never interested enough to shell out the currency necessary to buy them. I don't know if it was seeing them in person that won me over, or that I was caught up in the excitement of the big city, but they seemed like the perfect set to buy at the time--certainly the most special of the numerous Barbie sets that were on display. The problem with getting caught up in a moment is that you loose track of things like the little fact that while I paid $127, this set actually only costs $109 if you buy it online...and I mean if you buy it online at Toys R Us.  So I paid a premium for the experience of buying it at the flagship store, but I guess I am okay with that.  It's a really fun store.

Incidentally, the other Barbie set that kept catching my eye on this trip was the Pillow Talk set with Rock Hudson and Doris Day.  You can get these dolls on Amazon for 40 bucks right now.  If I could remember anything about that movie, I would definitely have purchased this set.  I can only remember Doris Day from the Hitchcock movie, The Man Who Knew Too Much.  Anyway--the dolls look great in real life.

I chose William and Kate because I love the British royal family, I am a sucker for wedding dresses, and because the William doll was grinning at me and I found it kinda irresistible:

William-Catherine-Kate-Barbie
William and Catherine Barbie Gold Label set
I should start by saying that if you can't get enough of royalty, drama and bling, you'll want to check out the one-of-a-kind World of Daniel blog.  I have a fun time over there trying to keep up with the royals.

William and Kate come in an elegant black cardboard box with a shiny understated Barbie logo:

The top of the box lifts off and there is a plastic cover over the dolls that can also just be lifted off--no tape or anything.   It is very similar to the Calico Critters packaging.


Without the plastic cover, you can clearly see the dolls displayed against a plain gold cardboard background.  

William-Catherine-Kate-Barbie

The lovely woman at Toys R Us who sold this set to me was very good about asking if I wanted to open the box and inspect the dolls before I checked out, but I often get silly and flustered when I am excited and so I just said, "Oh, no--I am sure they're perfectly fine!"  This kind of reaction usually comes back to bite me, and I was pretty sure it was one of those times when I saw Kate's face.  Do you see the spot on her cheek under the messy bit of hair?

I was freaking out.
Here it is up close:


Well, in fact, Kate's face is perfect, it's just that they have her dimples painted on, and so she has small pink spots on both of her cheeks.  Maybe not the best design choice, but definitely not a factory flaw.  Phew!  William's face looks good, too:

He has a huge white megatooth, but is otherwise very charming.
 Kate is "holding" a little bouquet in one hand...

She's using the force.
...and trying to hold William's hand in the other:


Their wrists are tied together with one of those clear rubber bands, but they're not actually holding hands.  You could process this in a number of different ways.  Perhaps they're shackled together and being forced down the aisle?  Or maybe they're trying to look serious and royal and yet their hands drift together and touch lightly for a brief romantic moment?  They're playing cops and robbers?

I thought they should be holding hands properly:

Will has a painted gold wedding band.
Much better, right?


The box is very simple and easy to open, but the dolls are secured pretty well in there.  The dolls are supported by molded plastic bases and tied down in several places.  They each have a plastic strap around their waist, and then a half dozen tiny plastic ties.


In addition to all of this, Kate's dress is sewn to the bottom of the box to keep it looking neat.


The hardest part to manage is the area around Kate's head.  Her hair is stitched to one of those irritating plastic strips, and then the strip is secured to the back of the box.  I used my Tiny Careful scissors, but even then, I cut a hole in her veil.  Very sad, but totally my fault.  I get way too impatient with these things.


What I should have done is remove the gold cardboard from the outer box and just cut all of the attachments from the back.  That's where the stands are hidden, too:


I think that the shorter leg grip stand is for Kate (so her dress can drape nicely over it) and the waist grip stand is for Will:


Let's look at William first.  This doll balances really well on his own, so I didn't even need the stand.  

The real William wore a bright red Irish Guard colonel's uniform to the wedding.  You can see some excellent shots of the actual outfit here, and also read about how tailors had to change some things about the construction of the heavy wool jacket in order to prevent the prince from overheating during the ceremony.


From a distance, the accuracy of the outfit is very good, with the scarlet jacket, royal blue sash and black pants with red stripes down the side:


Up close, the outfit has many of the little details correct, too, including the Royal Air Force wings, the Golden Jubilee medal (which commemorates the Queen's 50th year on the throne) and the Garter Star, which is given to members of the royal family and a handful of other deserving nobles.


From top to bottom: Air Force wings, Jubilee medal, Garter Star.
The epaulet decorations look like little flowers to me:


The cuff detail is nice, but those tiny gold buttons are glued on and fall off too easily:


The copper sash is nicely done and hangs well:


I think the weave of the jacket is a bit too coarse for the scale of this doll.  I know it was a wool jacket in real life, but this looks like burlap:


The collar of the jacket has a shamrock, which isn't surprising for the Irish Guard, but there's something about this rendition of the collar that's a bit too Lucky Charms and not enough British royalty for my taste:

Magically auspicious.
Check out that neck and jaw line, too.  That's weird.  Isn't there usually more of a gradual slope to the head piece?  Like on Chip?


Or just a straight neck articulation like on Spike?


Okay, I probably shouldn't have rolled Spike out for this particular review.  He doesn't make William look very good...or he makes him look too good, if you know what I mean.

Dude.  If you don't stop smiling, I 'm gonna eat you.
I've never owned Ken, but I am pretty sure that's not what his head looks like.  The collar hides the chopped profile pretty well, so I'll have to get that jacket off in a sec and see what's going on.


Other than the funny cut of the head, Will is a pretty handsome devil, don't you think?  Much like his real-life counterpart.  The wall of teeth is not his best feature, but it's probably better than if they'd tried to define all of the itty bitty individual choppers.

Prince-William-Barbie-Doll
Great eyes.
My husband thinks Will looks like Ken wearing a Halloween mask...

Prince-William-Barbie-Doll

Nah.  I don't think so.  Those masks freak me out and I think William is cute.  He's more like a Disney prince--like Prince Philip from Sleeping Beauty:

Prince-William-Barbie-Doll 

So, anyway, I was thinking to myself that the time had come to take the outfit off and see what's underneath, but although the blue sash has a nice little piece of velcro on it for easy removal...


...the jacket is sewn on with three small red stitches (there's nothing on underneath the jacket) and it isn't coming off without scissors getting involved:


The pants have an opening fly, but it is also sewn together at the top:


The shoes do come off.  They're plastic and slip right off with no trouble.  He isn't wearing any socks, though, which is a strange look for a prince.


I understand that this is a display doll, and Mattel had no intention of it being a toy.  However, it's a Barbie doll, so I feel like I should be able to change the clothes.  I mean, why have the sash attach with velcro but have everything else stitched on?  I don't get it.  Because this is a collectable doll, I was reluctant to snip any of the clothes off right away, so I just fiddled around to see what could be done without cutting anything.  The pants actually slide off pretty easily.  William had to shimmy a little bit to get them off, but nothing ripped or stretched.

Underneath the pants, I found this:

Double knee braces.
That's odd, isn't it?  Are those really necessary?  They keep his knees from bending, and I suppose this might help him stand on his own better, but it's still pretty unusual.

With his trousers off and his little knee braces, Will looks...cheeky:


The copper belt with the tassels is sewn together, but it can be slid down over the bottom of the coat and removed that way.

The pants are very nice--I love the red stripes:


I decided to go for it and snip the threads holding the coat together so I could remove that, too.  It is pretty well constructed, but not lined or anything.


With just that little bit of manipulating, though, the cuff buttons are starting to come unglued:


William's body has an impressive 13 points of articulation.  His hips are strung elastic and all of his other joints are plastic hinges.


He has seams down the backs of his legs, and these are a bit sloppy.  Notice the small cracks near the joints and all of the shiny glue:


He can strike just about any pose you'd want, and some that maybe you don't want:


The sculpting in his torso is very detailed. I especially like his back:


Here's that neck joint again with nothing obscuring the view:




So, that's William.  Here's a picture of him all dressed and handsome again so you can keep that image in your head while we look at Kate:

Prince-William-Barbie-Doll

My first impression of Kate is that she looks like Barbie.  I think she has the Generation Girl Barbie face with thick eyebrows and those dimple spots.  There's been no real effort to make her look like the princess, which is strange considering Mattel's approach to the William doll.  It's like Barbie has muscled in on Kate's wedding day.

Interloper.
This dress doesn't photograph very well against a white background, so here are a few pictures with a darker blue backdrop:

Catherine-Kate-Wedding-Barbie

The dress is an interpretation of the Sarah Burton (for Alexander McQueen) dress that the real Kate wore on her wedding day.  Right away, a noticeable difference between the two dresses is in their color.  While the real dress was ivory satin, this dress is a stark refrigerator white.


Things are a little uneven on this particular dress.  The bodice lining and the waist of the skirt both hitch up slightly on the left of the doll.  Also, the neckline doesn't seem to plunge quite as dramatically on the doll dress as it did in real life.  If you look at the actual dress, you can see that the lining of the bodice should have a more extreme sweetheart neckline, with the lace connecting at the lowest point.

The back of the doll dress is plain compared to the real thing.  The real dress' bustle (you can see a pic of it here) is missing completely.  The pearl buttons on the doll's outfit are just a string of plastic beads, somewhat sloppily stitched on over three chunky metal snaps.  The lace looks very pretty, though:



The dress is made out of play-quality fabric.  It feels like a windbreaker or a purse liner, not like satin.  The quality of the material is particularly noticeable in the back of the dress, where the lace hem detailing stops and some of the seams are reversed.  Although this style is true to the real dress' train, on the doll, it looks like they messed up and forgot the lace and stitched the seams backwards by accident.  I literally spent a minute trying to figure out what had gone wrong with the skirt.  The seam in the very back of the skirt is normal, but the two seams on either side are reversed, giving the train some geometric shaping:

The dress is pretty wrinkled from being in the box.
The dress seems very well constructed and has a dramatic, elegant overall shape:


The front of the dress is quite beautiful, with nicely hanging pleats and a wide lace hem border:



Underneath the skirt, the doll wears a petticoat:


Sewn into the back of the petticoat is a small bustle:


This is the petticoat turned inside out so you can see the bustle:


She's also wearing classy ivory high heels and beige stockings:


The tiara and veil are sewn into the hair style.  The plastic silver tiara is sewn in a bit crooked, but it satisfactorily mimics the tiara given to Kate by the Queen.  

Catherine-Kate-Wedding-Barbie

The veil can be flipped over the doll's head, which would be a fun feature for anyone who hadn't just cut a big hole in the veil. 


Despite not looking much like the real Kate, I think this doll has a beautiful face:

Catherine-Kate-Wedding-Barbie

In my doll, one of the elaborate plastic earrings is placed nicely, but the other one jabs straight into poor Kate's inner ear:

Ouch.
The earrings don't seem to come out, either, so my Kate is stuck with a permanent earache.

Kate has a lovely, simple hair style.  Her long brunette hair is twisted and pulled back at the top, but falls mostly loose down her back in some subtle waves.  There's a slight glitch in my doll's hair style--you can see a small strand of hair got caught the wrong way in the ponytail.  It's also a bit scraggly overall, and sheds quite a lot.


The shedding from one brush-through.
 The bouquet is nice, but unremarkable, and Kate can't really hold it with her straight arms.


I like that the doll is wearing a replica of the real sapphire engagement ring.  This was a ring that  Princess Diana chose for her own engagement, and so it clearly has special meaning to William, and to any of us who admired the graceful People's Princess.


The only disappointment about the ring is that it isn't blue enough.  It looks black from most angles:


Kate's dress is constructed like most Barbie clothing in that it is completely removable.  Both the dress and the petticoat have small metal snap closures.  Kate has the minimally articulated Model Muse body.  Why, oh why does she have this body while William has so much articulation?   Maybe because of the thinner frame and smaller chest size?  Ugh.  Again, I get that this is a doll for display and not play, but I want to pose them on my shelf and the posing options would be so much better if Kate had some joints.  It's disappointing for what is essentially a $50 doll.


Clearly, I have quite a few somewhat petty complaints about these dolls.  However, when I started to pose them and play around a bit, I found that I was grinning like a dolphin and having a really good time.  There's no denying they look great together.   Check out the royal couple flirting, dancing and posing:

William-Catherine-Wedding-Barbie





Are you smiling?  I find I am always smiling after I look at Will.  Cutie pie.

An obvious comparison for me to draw, in terms of price and quality, is with the Poppy Parker Baby It's You gift set.  These Integrity dolls are about the same size as Will and Kate, and they retail for the only slightly higher price of $140.  Poppy can share clothes with Barbie dolls, and this is a big problem for Kate, because Poppy looks really good in her dress:

She can even bend her arms to hold the bouquet.
Chip thinks she looks hot, too:

This tuxedo comes off, baby.
Chip and Will can't share clothes because Will is smaller.  Quite a bit smaller:

Will has a little pin head compared to Chip's large noggin.
If my goal had been to make myself feel good about the Will and Kate purchase, comparing them to Poppy and Chip was a mistake.  Poppy's articulation is clearly superior, but she also has a more elaborate and careful hair style, better face paint and metal rhinestone jewelry instead of plastic.  The clothing on these two sets of dolls is their biggest differentiator.  While the Integrity dolls have highly detailed, well-constructed and fully removable clothing, made in fabrics like cotton and silk, the Barbie dolls have more cheaply made (falling apart in places) synthetic clothes that, at least in Will's case, aren't even designed to be removed.  Since there was only a $10 difference in what I paid for these two sets (my own fault, granted) the differences seem pretty glaring.

Let's forget that for a sec and go back to the fun part--posing and playing with Will and Kate:



William-Catherine-Wedding-Barbie


William-Catherine-Wedding-Barbie

Bottom line?  This set is confusing to me.  It has many elements of a nice play quality toy--the accessories are plastic, the fabrics are inexpensive and durable, Kate's dress is removable and constructed with chunky snaps that would be easy for little fingers to handle.  There are some careless factory flaws and quality short cuts typical of less expensive dolls.  I know there are kids out there who want to buy these dolls and play with them, and they almost could.  However, the set is being marketed (and priced) as a collector's display item.  Kate can't pose much at all.  William's clothes aren't meant to come off, and some of the clothing details (really just the accents on Will's coat) are attached too delicately to withstand any kind of manipulation.  So, it's too expensive and not playable enough for a lot of kids and it falls short of the standards I hold for a display doll.  I guess it's basically a souvenir style collector's item.

In comparison to Integrity's Poppy Parker and Chip collector's set, this duo doesn't measure up.  If you agree that Poppy and Chip are worth $140, I'd say this set should retail for $70 (maybe $80) or under.  At $130, I clearly paid too much.

The thing is, there's quite a lot to like about these charming dolls.  William's chipper face puts me in a good mood whenever I see it.  The details in his red jacket are very faithful to the Irish Guard uniform and contribute to a convincing and attractive replica of the prince on his wedding day.  Despite not resembling the real princess, Kate's face is radiant.  She's a very pretty Barbie doll.  The wedding dress has flaws, but it is still dramatic and beautiful.  The train is long and full and the lace bodice is elegant and flattering.  The dress can be removed and shared around between many of my other dolls.  The plastic accessories are cheap, but they look nice from a distance and are loyal to the original wedding regalia.  The two dolls look fantastic together.

In the end, my lasting impression is that these dolls are an accurate and fun souvenir of the royal wedding, they make me smile with their cheerful faces, and they evoke all kinds of fond memories.  All of that, coupled with the excitement of buying them at the impressive Toys R Us in Manhattan, makes this happy couple a welcome addition to my collection.

Summary:
Age Level
10 and up
Value
Overpriced at $100-130.  For $80 or under, this would be a good buy.
Quality
Quality control issues with Catherine’s accessories and hair.  Glued details in the clothing fall off too easily.  Some of the materials seem too cheap for such an expensive doll.
Packaging
Good packaging.  Attractive cardboard box with a few irritating attachments holding the dolls in place.
Collectable?
Yes.  Limited production and popular subject matter.
Versatility
The dolls are meant for display only. However, the Kate doll can be undressed and share clothes with other Barbies and similarly sized fashion dolls. Kate has minimal articulation.  William’s clothes were not designed to be removed.  Also, William’s character-specific face makes him slightly less versatile.
Overall
I would not recommend spending $127 on this set.  If you are a big fan of William and Kate and find this on sale, it’s a fun purchase.

William-Catherine-Wedding-Barbie

26 comments:

  1. Great post! Very informative! I was LMAO at the nude pictures of William! Sad that only William is articulated fully and not Kate at that price! What is Mattel thinking!

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    1. I know, it's so silly, isn't it? Imagine the strange poses they could strike together if Kate had been given joints!! ;)

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  2. Hello from Spain: congratulations for doing a very detailed post. I love this couple. I already told you that I love this princess and her Barbie is very pretty. Barbie does not look like the princess Catherine, but I like the doll. Anyway I like the girlfriend Poppy. I like William is Articulated. I always prefer the articulated bodies. Keep in touch.

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    1. I agree, Marta. Even though she doesn't really look like Catherine, she's still a lovely Barbie. I definitely prefer Poppy, though. Too bad Integrity didn't make a version of the royal couple. I bet that would be amazing!

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  3. Very nice set! I love the good match to Prince William's face, but must confess I don't care too much for the type of attachment of his head ... looks sort of like a Pez dispenser head.

    Were they mine, I would put Barbie-Kate's head onto a Fashionista body to allow for more posing options. Love the general authenticity of the clothing!

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    1. LOL! It's TOTALLY a Pez dispenser head! That is too funny. You have a very sharp eye, Barb.

      I might consider a body swap since I have already devalued the dolls by snipping Will's outfit and accidentally cutting Kate's veil. Not much to loose at this point! ;)

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  4. I've been enjoying your blog entries! You do a great job reviewing dolls! You mentioned the Pillow Talk set and I just wanted to let you know that if you have a Tuesday Morning store in your area, go check them out. I got a set there recently and it was priced at $29.99. It's a very nice set, but be sure that Rock's hair paint is intact. They must have boxed some before the hair dried and so some boxes have paint smeared on the inside from his hair. There are good ones out there, though, where is hair is just fine.

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    1. Thank you so much, Susan! I actually do have a Tuesday Morning nearby...they haven't had a lot of dolls lately, but this would definitely be worth checking out! Do you love this set in person? I think Doris is especially pretty with a very nicely done smile--lots of character, but still realistic.

      Thank you also for the tip about Rock's hair--I do like to know when there are common flaws out and around that I should be on alert for!

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  5. That's really strange that the quality control wasn't there for such expensive dolls, I wonder how the quality of other similarly priced Barbies is (I've only ever owned much cheaper Barbie dolls). I would assume the silkstone dolls are very high quality.

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    1. It makes me wonder a bit about the overall quality control, too, Molly. The only other expensive Barbie I own is Tokidoki and she was "only" $40, so not quite as pricey as this set. She has the unarticulated body, but she also looks very detailed and nicely constructed.

      I'd like to get my hands on a silkstone Barbie some day--I have seen several at doll shops and they look beautiful!

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  6. Great review and I am glad I went with my 1st feelings on this set. Not really worth what they are charging for the set. They are cute but still not for me.

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    1. It's funny how often trusting your first instinct works with this hobby! Maybe it's because our first reactions are very emotional, and it is those emotions that make a doll special over time...or don't. In any case, I am glad you escaped overspending on this set!

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  7. (Tuesday Morning in So. Po. over near the mall.) Let's go! Oh, wait, I went to the doll show in Portsmouth, Sunday & am now broke. :) Love Pillow Talk. I have a copy. I realise I'm in the minority, but I love the model muse body. Of course, I also swap heads onto fashionista & also LIV bodies.

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    1. Yeah! Let's go!! I haven't been there in a while and need to stop by. Those ladies think I am strange, though, because I always make a beeline for the dolls and then often leave really quickly (if there's nothing new). Suspicious.

      Wait...doll show in Portsmouth? I need to pay more attention. That sounds really fun--please tell us what you saw and bought!

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  8. Unfortunately, the articulated ken heads all sit kind of like that. Better than the right-left turning heads of old kens, but still not a very elegant solution. I do love any new headmolds--wills is no exception. It's a shame that Kate didn't get her own headmold, though. Great review!

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    1. It would have been great to see a new head mold for Kate, I agree! I was browsing some of the various Barbie head molds online the other day and there have been some amazingly beautiful ones like Grace Kelly and then one called "Daria" that I love!

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  9. The knee brace things Will had on are a very clever idea. My only FR Homme guy came with those too- they do prevent the legs from bending while they're on, but the important part is that if the doll is displayed for a long time standing up, they prevent the (possibly heavy) upper body from exerting too much pressure on the knees and therefore making the knee joints floppy. I'm surprised they aren't used more often. But yes that's another thing that points to this being a giftset meant for display only.. I can totally see why you're not all that happy with the price you paid- it's disheartening to see Mattel cheap out like that. They KNOW people will buy their stuff, it's like they're saying "we don't have to put any effort into making YOU like our dolls, if you don't buy it someone else will". And they're right. Oh well, that's life and economy and stuff for you I guess :)

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  10. i love the dolls , the price tag is a little pricey and the packaging is rather boring no balcony setting or palace theme which for that price tag i think is a bit of a cop out , you can buy another non mattel set on amazon for a fraction of the price , but love your bloggs

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    1. Thank you, rusty! A balcony backdrop for the box is a great idea! I wish they had done that. I bet a lot of people will leave these two in the box, and so a more decorative background would not go to waste.

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  11. Wow! What a detailed review of the William and Kate dolls! Stumbled upon your blog by chance. Loved your description of your expression whilst you were posing the dolls; 'grinning like a dolphin'! Fantastic! I also like the poses that you produced. (Maureen: London, United Kingdom)

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  12. Thank you so much for mentioning my blog on this post of yours. It is kind. I am glad you like my blog. I am jealous of your William and Kate set. i wasn't able to get one here in South Africa where I live. Keep blogging :)

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  13. Great job - informative and fun. Thanks for posting!

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  14. They've really captured William's likeness haven't they? I'd say Kate's face was more standard barbie doll, but they're a cute couple nonetheless!

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  15. Is it just me, or does Kate look, um, kind of angry?

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  16. The ancient art of mehndi has evolved greatly over the years, and what used to be an art that is simple and specific, has now expanded to several different types of styles and design methods. The mehndi design styles differ due to the fact that they have been incorporated with local cultures and traditions, and as a result, one now finds several different types of styles available out there when we speak of mehndi.

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  17. Women are coming out of the barriers and are rejecting all the dos and don'ts. That is being reflected not only in their dresses but also in their Unicorn Photo Anna shoes and wedding jewelry. Today they dress the way they like, not the way their mothers did.

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