Fleur was made in the 1970s and 1980s in Holland by the Otto Simon company. The first two Fleurs were released in 1978. They were Belle and Basic Fleur.
Wim Remken, one of the founding fathers, who worked in the 70s as chief purchaser for Otto Simon, recalls that Fleur was born out of anger over Pedigree's decision to stop their licence to sell Sindy in the Netherlands. Fleur then was designed overnight by Wim Remken, purchaser Ruud Bok, and the advertising company. They were personally involved in the creation and production of the dolls.
Fleur was aimed to look nothing like Barbie, more like a European version of Sindy. Little girls would have to think of Fleur as their friend. Their mothers had to approve of her appearance as well. Her outfits were inspired by everyday fashions as appeared in women's magazines like Margriet and Libelle, and prototypes were made by Otto Simon employees themselves.
The new doll was an instant success and in the next decade over a million dolls were sold. In her heyday, Fleur's success was bigger than Sindy's and even Barbie's.
By 1983 Otto Simon wanted to internationalize. The first attempts looked promising, yet the doll would never repeat her Dutch success. The major export country was Denmark, followed by Belgium, England, and Germany. Fleurs were also exported to Norway, Sweden, Austria, Australia, Greece, and France. Fleur was also seen in Eastern Europe, for example in Poland, where she was sold in shops which had a licence to carry imported goods.
By the end of 1980s Fleur herself changed. Buhrmann Tetterode (owners of Otto Simon) decided to professionalize and outsource Fleur's design to England. The result was New Look Fleur (Disco Dance, Look Around) which was released almost simultaneously with New Face Sindy. New ranges of designer clothes were issued.
The people from Otto Simon disapproved strongly, for this new doll and clothes had nothing to do with Fleur they knew. But they couldn't stop the new developments. This new Fleur didn't appeal to the Dutch audience. Sales began to drop dramatically. Almost simultaneously, Buhrman Tetterode decided to concentrate on their core business (graphic systems) and discontinued the toys line. Fleur production stopped quite suddenly in 1988.
© A.M. 2007
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