The Lies and Fraud of Michel Couture - Hayworth

A letter I received today is reproduced here in it's entirety:
Dear Ms. Gold
Occasionally I stalk your blog, like most collectors I find it a great place to learn more about dolls. I was SHOCKED, STUNNED, and AMAZED to see your post regarding Flavia, Grande-Duchesse, by Michel Couture.

I met Michel at a doll show (IFDC) where he had a display several years ago. What I loved about his presentation was the combination of old Hollywood glamor and a small doll. I am not the biggest fan of all the articulation that is the craze these days. Flavia wasn't beautiful, but reminded me in may ways of the original Barbie, but it was her clothes which were seemingly nice.

What I loved, was Michel, he was so charming and wanted to offer something unique. He promised very small exclusive editions, and explained in great detail how hard it was to compete with the "mega companies" who didn't produce quality.  I knew all that to be true, having followed Doug James and Christina Bougus, I knew that being "little' was hard. He talk so passionately about his dream doll, and that afternoon I wrote a check for almost a $1000, pre-ordering his entire line, and also being promised a special considerations for being a "founding" collector.

He sent me a card on embossed stationary thanking me for my support, the pleasure it was to meet me, and promised a doll in the summer. Summer came and went, then it was the fall. It seemed just when I had had enough waiting he would offer me more. He promised to send sketches, pictures, and went so far as to ask my opinions about the doll, what would I love to see. I felt as if I was part of something amazing. He supplied me with dates that never came into fruition, and many excuses, tho all seemingly legitimate. Productions issues, quality control, anything to dely sending me the doll. Finally after a year and a half, he told me he didn't have enough capitol and offered a refund. This man wanted Flavia to be the next Mdvanni, which I should have known was asked for to much, but that was inspiring. He asked me to be a "benefactress to beauty" and that he was going to create the doll in the states in resin and make the clothes himself, in editions of 10-20. I sent him another $500. He sent me a fashion which was a relabled Dressmakers and I promptly contacted my bank and the police.

The police laughed at me and told me they did not have time for "Dolly Capers". I contacted the coordinators of IFDC with no response. I contacted the Attorney Generals office in CA, and again, nothing. I finally filed a claim in small claims court, and he did not appear, thus defaulted. He still has not paid the judgment against him, or more offered me an explanation. It is not the money that bothers me, it is the lies and fraud.

I never expected to see an actual produced doll, and it bothers me in every way that Mel Odom brought this doll to you. In many ways I feel that you have done Michel the biggest favor in writing about this doll, but reporting on dolls is what you do. The DOTY is a shock....

I wasn't sure I could put all the information on your blog or what you would do with it. If you want I can mail you copies of correspondences, and the judgment, and even the fashion.

I appreciate your blog and look forward to hearing from you.


Second email from the same person:

Hi Terri,
There is a reason that people send you dolls, because consumers value your opinion. You highlight new artist, repainters, and in general give valued opinion. I often won't buy a doll till I've read your review, and know I am not the only one. You have been very non-biased about all of this which is commendable, but for me, even to show the doll and the vehicle to which you received a free doll bothers me. In some ways you have been given stolen merchandise, from Mel Odom of all people. To me it creates a sense of validity that Michel Hayworth (not his real name) needs to be credible. I can write whatever I want, maybe some people will listen, but everyone listens to you. You offered a frank analysis of the doll, which is awesome, and some opinion about the marketing, but I think had I been you, I would have returned the doll to Mel and said that there is to much drama towards this doll maker, and I would rather abstain. Or I would have waited for contact from the maker, and published a blog about the drama and the doll.

Since you are the link to major doll people like Mel Odom, have you had follow-up with him? The way the blog reads to me is that Mel Odom is advocating a new doll and by putting the doll on the blog you are advancing the sale of that doll. Regardless of press, even bad, it is still pres. If you said, don't by "x" the market would feel it, because you have authority and with authority comes responsibility. Granted by publishing stories such as mine, you are offering another side of a story, sadly I am not sure my story is all that effective?

Publish at will. I appreciate your time.

At this point I, too, am wondering about the DOTY award and how it works.
Photo sent to me by a collector who was at the IFDC Event where Michel promoted his doll.


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