As I approach a toy vendor, I’m suddenly stopped in my tracks by a 1970s brunette Daisy Doll designed by Mary Quant; she looks absolutely beautiful, and identical to the one I adored in my childhood; I stand there in awe and wonderment.

Seeing my beloved Daisy doll has catapulted me back to my childhood home and I tell the vendor all about her. Much to my delight she actually knows what I’m talking about as it turns out that we’re the same age! In fact she totally shares my enthusiasm and shows me her carrier bag full of Barbies, Sindies and Daisies that she kindly lets me have a rummage through.

I pull out an unclothed Daisy doll with very short hair! The vendor and I totally seem to understand each other and our conversation goes on and on as we share our ‘doll memories’.

The vendor explains that Daisy was unlike any other doll, in fact “Daisy was a more fashionable version of Sindy, and apparently became known as the best dressed doll in the world”. I learn that Sindy was more of ‘the girl-next-door’ whereas in Daisy, Mary Quant had introduced a range of effortlessly stylish teenage dolls with accessories from evening gowns to neckerchiefs.

“Oh that’s why we all wanted to be like her so much!’ I enthuse.

When Mary Quant launched Daisy in the 1970s, in my eyes, she was perfect, with her bouffant long dark hair and long legs, her slender build and delicate facial features; at last a doll that wasn’t blonde that I could relate to. It was so exciting to regularly add to her wardrobe. Each new outfit came in a flat orange box with a window and was well designed in terms of colour, fabric, pattern and attention to detail.

I remember concentrating hard, painstakingly pressing high-heeled sandals onto the soles of her feet or fiddling with her miniature necklaces making sure that the pendants were straight. I was fascinated by Mary Quant’s designer outfits that were so much more sophisticated than any other doll’s given their attention to detail and that’s what truly engaged me.

Daisy was a role model; pretty, smart and fashionable. Her outfits were an inspiration to me and in my imagination, I could become like her. I remember how her long boots fitted perfectly onto her bendy legs and her round sunglasses onto her little face.

I had made her a bedroom using a sturdy cardboard box, painted the interior mid-blue, cut out two squares for windows and pasted fabric curtains at either side of them. It was so exciting to kit it out with a bed, wardrobe, dressing table and full-length tilted mirror, although I never did get her chaise longue. I’d sit in my bedroom corner, select a new outfit from her wardrobe and dress her, brush her hair then sit her at her dressing table. I would angle the mirror just so and she would sit on her stool facing it, her delicate hand resting on her brush. Then I’d just admire how cool she was!

Ruth Handler, the founder of Barbie, is famous for saying that her dolls “inspire the limitless potential in every girl”. Of course, Barbie is often heavily criticised for a myriad of things and by many feminists; yet as a little girl, my Daisy Doll helped me to free my imagination, to escape from the monotony of daily life and merge into my doll’s glitzy glamorous world. It helped me to engage with my inner femininity and made me feel a deep-seated sense of wonderment on some mysterious level. If that’s politically incorrect, then so be it.

The world of imaginative play is so real for a child. Play is clearly therapeutic and helps children to express themselves and work through unresolved emotion that they wouldn’t be able to in the real world. I used to love creating my own narrative around Daisy and projecting my thoughts and feelings onto her. She allowed me to go beyond the domestic scene and tap into my own unexpressed potential.

In 2016 a new range of Barbie dolls was launched celebrating different figures, hair types and skin tones; a step in the right direction as Barbie’s impossibly perfect body shape dating from 1959 was at last brought under scrutiny and expanded to represent more diversity

I leave the market hopeful as I learn that these dolls are not that expensive and that if I do my research, I might even be able to recreate my Daisy boudoir again and finally getting hold of that fuchsia pink chaise longue!

  • Marisa Laycock moved from south west London to St Albans in 2000. She enjoys sharing her experiences of living in the city