One of our favorite boutiques, Frances, always seems to be ahead of the stylistic curve, especially when it comes to those hard to find items with the intriguing combination of quirky and cool.
Case in point: The String Doll Gang. With more than 100 characters, the gang commands an entire stainless-steel wall at Frances -- making it the largest String Doll retailer in the country. Frances purchased more than 800 dolls this past year (most stores who order the dolls regularly purchase between 30 and 50 every two months). Talk about a stringy obsession. And we're hooked.
The String Dolls are creations of Kamibashi ("paper bridge" in Japanese), the brainchild of Kristen and Chris Daniels. The couple met young artists while teaching English in Japan. When they moved from Kyoto to North Carolina, they decided to bring (and share) their new friends' arts and crafts.
The intricate three-inch string figures are handmade (and fair trade) and come in a variety of personalities and genders. They even possess "positive and helpful" special powers, which might be a steal for the $10 price tag.
And don't forget -- the String Doll Gang and everything else at Frances is 20 percent off if you print off and bring in Local First Arizona's Golden Coupon. It's valid through July 4 for "Independents" week.
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We spotted "Vincent" hanging from a Louis Vuitton bag in Scottsdale Fashion Square (he inspires creativity) and "Old Sid" dangling from a backpack at Mojo (he protects you against people who have bad taste in music).
They may not be the perfect toy for small children (they have a ton of small, moving parts). But they are fabulous for those with a hint of style a sense of humor.
This post has been updated from it's original version.