Candi and Charisse Dolls

Name: Candi and Charisse Dolls

Made by and When: 1994-2004 Hamilton Toys, Hamilton Toy, Integrity Toys, and Mikelman (Mikelman designed the Charisse doll)

Material: Vinyl with bendable knees

Marks: All Candi dolls are marked Hamilton Toys, Inc. 1990 (on the heads); Hamilton Design Inc./MADE IN CHINA (on the backs). Retro Charisse by Mikelman is marked Integrity Toys (on the head and possibly has markings on the back).

Height: 11-1/2 inches

Hair, Eyes, Mouth: Rooted hair in a variety of styles and colors, painted brown eyes, closed mouths – all Candi dolls use the same head sculpt. African Swirl Vintage Candi has a beauty mark below the lower lip on the doll’s left. Mikelman’s Charisse has a different head sculpt.

Clothes: Candi Couture (1994) wears a black spandex catsuit that has the Candi Couture paper logo on the upper bodice, and pink high-heel shoes. Candi Girl (1997) wears a red spandex dress that has Candi Couture printed across the upper bodice with red high-heels. Retro Bubble Cut and Retro Ponytail Candi and Charisse (ca. 1998) wear black and white bathing suits and have black high-heels and black sunglasses in a baggie. African Swirl Vintage Candi (2004) wears a black bathing suit with red and white stripes at the upper bodice and shoulders, pearl stud earrings; black sunglasses and black high-heel shoes are in a baggie. International Candi (2001, a Hamilton, Integrity Toys/Wu collaboration) wears a tan wool short-sleeved sheath with faux fur collar that is accented with a linear crystal pin, brown open-toe high heels, faux fur purse with gold-tone chain strap, black sunglasses; has a doll stand. Honey Candi (ca 1998, a Hamilton and Mikelman collaboration) wears Mikelman’s St. Tropez separates outfit (peach satin short-sleeve top and pants, peach shoes, straw hat with peach and pink ribbon flowers). Separate fashions by Mikelman are modeled by Candi Couture dolls in the final photo of this installation.

Brief History: Helena Hamilton’s doll-enterprising journey began in 1988 while she and her daughter, Nina, spent quality time together playing with Barbies. Hamilton began to sew for her daughter’s dolls and enjoyed doing this. However, as an artist, she soon wanted to do more. Her idea was an ethnic fashion doll with realistic features that would be relatable to her daughter. The result was Hamilton Design Systéme’s first Candi Couture doll. Several multicultural Candi dolls followed. Later, Hamilton collaborated with other doll makers and designers to include Integrity Toys’ Jason Wu and Paul David and Mikelman.

This installation focuses on Hamilton’s designs and includes dolls designed and fashioned by others.

Candi Couture, Candi Girl, Retro Candi, African Swirl Vintage Candi – With the exception of Retro Candi, these dolls were designed by Helena Hamilton.

Candi Couture is photographed with the box showing “the info” text.
A working collaboration between Hamilton and Mikelman, Retro Candi dolls were marketed by Helena Hamilton Design Systéme although the box top indicates they are by Mikelman.
Honey Candi and International Candi by Mikelman and Integrity Toys, respectively use the original Candi sculpt.

Honey Candi (a Mikelman production) wears the separately-sold Mikelman St. Tropez fashion. International Candi is a collaboration between Helena Hamilton and Integrity Toys/Jason Wu.

Bubble Cut and Ponytail Retro Charisse by Mikelman in honey complexion, these dolls were available in other complexions.

Retro Charisse – a Mikelman production; the dolls are Hamilton’s original Candi dolls dressed in black and white bathing suits by Mikelman.

Lounging Candi Couture dolls (1990s) model 1997 fashions designed by Mikelman.

Candi Couture dolls model 1997 “Lacy Secrets” and “Sweet Dreams” Mikelman-tagged fashions.

This is just a sample of the many Candi dolls that were on the market during the mid-1990s through the mid 2000s originally created by Helena Hamilton, a African American doll and fashion designer.


Your comments are valued. Donations to help this initiative to preserve Black-doll history are greatly appreciated. 

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Published by DeeBeeGee

Doll collector, historian, co-founder of the first e-zine devoted to collecting black dolls; author of black-doll reference books, doll blogs, and doll magazine articles.

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