In Dare and Darius Moreno’s doll universe, issues of classism and elitism won’t go unheard

Darius says his illustration and painting style “comes naturally” and it can be seen across numerous commercial and personal projects throughout the years. In 2017, he created his career-changing artwork for the rapper GoldLink’s album At What Cost and in 2019 he lent his style to a Miles Davis’ The Birth of Cool tribute artwork, lifting the previously monochrome cover with his colourful flair. With Dare Dollz though, it seems that the accentuated style, seen in everything from dolls’ wigs to their non-verbal gestures and stance, is a true homage to his and Dare’s childhood. “We grew up with a mother who wore big hoop earrings and a plethora of hairstyles. She also had Lil’ Kim CDs which led me to draw the rapper obsessively,” he tells us. “The mediums we use for creating are always very accessible. Magazines, movies, books and the references to pop culture icons from the 90s – our favourite era – all the things we reference shed a light on the adversities various women in Black and Brown communities face,” Dare adds.

One of the most striking dolls within the collection is the Demi Doll – created in 2020, and later revised with a “new look”. Darius is particularly drawn to the character for her facial features and sleek look. “I simplified her down and kept some of her original elements such as her hair colour, complexion and dramatic makeup,” he tells us. Dare points to their Dare Dollz for Puma project as a significant moment as it was the first time they received funding. “We loved working with Puma because we got complete creative freedom. We collaborated with two other artists to create real clothes and even 3D print the dolls, which was a world away from clay,” she says.

As they commit to a world full of cultural references that honours the visual culture and community they’ve been surrounded by their whole lives, it is clear Dare and Darius have every intention to make this universe huge. Working tirelessly toward a wide launch for their physical dolls next January, they are psyched to evolve and expand yet again. “Through trial and error we’ve learned that it’s impossible to please everyone. We want Dare Dollz to be a whole brand, and we’re committed to our message.”

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