History of Mannequins in Fashion Design – A Look Back Shows They’re More Than Just Dummies

Walk through any department store, and you’ll pass countless mannequins modeling the latest fashions. While we’ve come to take these visual display staples for granted, mannequins have a rich and storied past that dates as far back as ancient Egypt. Looking at how mannequins have evolved through the years, we can see that they have reflected not only the ideal of how we should look, but how we should live. No wonder historians, retailers, and fashion school students alike have been fascinated by these lifelike figures for so long.

Ancient and medieval times. When King Tutankhamen’s tomb was opened in 1922, one of the treasures found was a lifelike torso believed to be the world’s first dress form. Indeed, the mannequin continued its functional role as a dress form through the centuries. Lifelike facsimiles of kings and queens were created so that tailors and dressmakers could create clothes without having to bore the monarchs with endless fittings, or worse, threatening their modesty by touching their bodies.

French aristocracy. In the 18th century, France was considered the fashion capital, and “fashion dolls” were created to show off the French fashion design to the world. These early mannequins, which represented the ideal of courtly fashion, ranged from about twelve inches to life size. They were sent abroad so people could see what the French were wearing and copy the styles. Marie Antoinette was known to send dolls to her mothers and sisters in Austria so they were kept up to date with what was in vogue at Versailles.

The Industrial Revolution and window shopping. Mannequins made a huge leap forward with the development of electrically-lit streets and large, glass-pane windows. Suddenly, strolling along avenues and looking at the fantasy worlds displayed in retail store windows became a favorite pastime. The first mannequins created for this purpose were made of wax and wood. They were extremely heavy, weighing between 200 and 300 pounds, with iron-reinforced legs so they would stay upright. With glass eyes, false teeth, and real hair, the mannequins adopted the feminine ideal of large bosoms and tiny waists, in situations of genteel living, like giving a toast at a dinner party. The art of fashion merchandising was born.

Hollywood influence. Until the ’20s, mannequins had wooden expressions, which is why they were called “dummies.” In the silent film age, however, there was more focus on the face than the body. With the popularity of Hollywood movies, mannequins acquired more realistic features and animated facial expressions that mirrored those of famous stars like Mary Pickford and Rudolph Valentino. To complement their movie star looks, they were displayed in aspirational, make-believe situations like having cocktails at the country club.

The Gaba Girls. In the ’30s, mannequins began to be produced with plaster, decreasing their weight to about twenty-five pounds. And thanks to a former soap sculptor named Lester Gaba, they reached a new level of realism. His lifelike figures were dubbed “The Gaba Girls,” the most famous of which was named Cynthia. Gaba envisioned Cynthia as the ultimate New York socialite, and the mannequin became a pop culture sensation. He took her to nightclubs and the opera, and Cartier and Tiffany even lent her jewels.

World War II. With the arrival of the second World War, life changed, and so did mannequins. Mannequins resembling carefree people were replaced by serious, no-nonsense ones. But when the troops returned, mannequins performed the public service of encouraging the public to be happy again. The female mannequins wore radiant smiles, while the male ones were relaxed and comfortable; both displayed domestic, suburban bliss.

Fiberglass and plastics. By the ’50s, mannequins moved away from brittle, breakable plaster to rugged fiberglass and plastic. Because manufacturing and sculpting had not yet been refined, the new mannequins were less realistic and took on an abstract quality. They actually celebrated surrealism, with sprayed-on hair styles and anatomical inaccuracies. The mannequin had become pop art.

The women’s revolution. When women’s roles started changing in the ’60s, mannequins depicted the shift. On one hand, there were the housewife (or aspiring housewife) mannequins with bouffants and hopeful gazes. At the other extreme was the active, assertive woman, posing casually and confidently. The decade also gave us the Mod look – skinny, leggy figures epitomized by the Twiggy mannequin.

Real life. The ’70s saw the introduction of Black, Asian, and Latino mannequins, reflecting the growing ethnic mix in the country. Also mirroring the turbulent decade, mannequins started having facial expressions of pain, worry, and stress. In the 80s, the country got “physical,” and mannequins followed suit, taking on running and leaping poses.

Modern day. When it comes to mannequins today, the old rules are out, and anything goes. Mannequins are different colors, crystal clear, headless, backless, and any form of abstraction. In fact, the realistic figures of previous decades now look decidedly creepy. There is no “ideal” form, probably because there is no longer a consensus on an ideal vision of beauty.

While we know that fashion design and mannequins have been forever intertwined, it’s fascinating to see how much these “dummies” have shown us as about civilization, history, and culture.

Fashion Phenomenon

Fashion literally refers to the way a thing or phenomenon is carried or processed in its true sense at any point in time so basically it is a trend which is followed by masses in a society or culture. In our daily life routine we usually refer fashion to the way people dress up or the way people present themselves at a particular point in time and thus this particular trend is followed at that point in time. These days there is an industry which is called as the fashion industry and the basic role of this industry is to project and promote the latest trends in clothing and cosmetics as well. Thus people follow the latest fashions portrayed by the fashion industry.

Models both male and female are the integral part of the fashion industry and are involved in setting latest fashions in society in terms of clothing. There have been many trends followed by society at different points in time and these days some of the trends are becoming widespread and even universal as people around the whole world have a faster and easy access to each other’s cultural information and latest trends. Similarly there are some major and extremely famous brands in the fashion industry which are attacking markets all over the world due to which people of most of the countries are familiar with some big names. Each and every culture has its own kind of fashion which has gone through many changes by the time and now different cultures are merging into each other by sharing their fashion and coming up with a common trend.

Fashion has many modes and kinds which these days are being followed by most of the people in this world. Fashion is not particularly confined to the trends in clothing or any kind of cosmetic product but it has wider branches or simply it is evident in every thing like in eating or buying stuff for decoration of home or it can be in cars or any other thing. Thus fashion is a broad term which can be applied to many phenomena.

Creating Fashionable Storage for Your Bathroom

Learn how to make fashionable storage for your bath. Take advantage of that vacant wall space by building your very own storage.

Things that you would need:

• Three 1×8 boards. Measurements for each would respectively be 36″ (2 pieces of this), 24″ (4 pieces of this) and 9-3/4″ (just one of this) in length.
• Two crown moldings. Measurement for each would respectively be 25-1/2″ (one piece) and 7-1/4″ (2 pieces of this) in length.
• Two base moldings. Measurement for each would respectively be 25-1/2″ (one piece) and 7-1/4″ (2 pieces of this) in length.
• Bead board. Just have one sheet with the measurement of 25-1/2″ x 36″
• One board of 1″x2″. Width = 23″
• “L bracket
• Sash brush ( two and a half inch)
• Wood filler
• drill
• Miter saw. Specifically the one that is compound.
• Small nails
• Sandpaper
• Latex paint
• Measuring tape
• Putty knife
• primer
• level
• Twenty wood screws. Specific to 1-1/4”
• Pencil

The layout for the shelf is the first thing that will be marked. First thing you would need to do is to have each side piece lie flat, the insides pointing upwards, on a table. Following the diagram for reference, mark each wood piece using a pencil to indicate where the shelves are going to be connected.

Now you can proceed in having the shelves attached to each side. Refer to the diagram for reference and install the cabinet loosely. Look for a surface that is flat to do this. Starting from the upper part to the lower part, align the edges of the shelf precisely with the marks that you have put in. The base of the shelf must be placed 2″ above the base. The bare space will be used for your installation clear. It will later on be applied with molding specifically made for the base. Use one hand to securely hold the shelf then start drilling for your pilot holes. Insert screws unto the holes. Stop once the shelf is no longer loose against side. Do the same procedure on the other side. Proceed in doing so up to the point where all of the 4 parts for the length of the shelf are firmly and correctly affixed to sides.

Now, you will start working on the bead board. On a plane surface, put the shelving unit with the front facing down. Put the bead board with the front facing downwards atop your shelving unit (beadboard lines should be positioned up to down). Make sure that the bead board’s edges is in line with that of the shelving unit. Use nails to secure it.

After that, you will now work on the crown molding. Edges must be aligned with inside miter. Now take the base of your molding’s front part flush to your shelving unit’s upper front edge. Hammer it down using nails. Now precisely arrange the mitered edges in a line and take the base part of side part from the crown molding unto the shelving units’ upper side edge. Hammer with nails again. Do the same procedure on the other side.

Now you are ready to connect the base molding. Ensure that your base moldings’ top part is flush to your base shelf’s top part. Do the same procedure above but this time, to your shelving units’ base. The base molding will have a little bit of excess showing on the base edge. Hammer down nails.

Screw in the holes intended for the screws with the aid of your putty knife. Follow it up with your wood filler. Do the same thing with your nails on the nail holes. Let the filler dry. Then have the surface sanded flush.

Next thing you need to do is get your sash brush and use that to spread primer on your shelf. Do not forget the underside because that will be seen later on. Leave it to dry then coat with latex paint. Follow up with a 2nd coat.

Marks of brush strokes will be lessened if you sand after every coat.

Know the position of your cabinet. Get your 1×2 board and have it place on your wall right below your base shelf, right beneath your base molding. Make sure that when hang, the shelf will not be crooked. The level can be used for this. Then use your drill to create pilot holes that goes all the way to your board and right through your wall. Screw them in to firmly attach it to wall.

Now on the uppermost part of your cabinet, put in your “L” bracket. Put your cabinet unto wall right on cleat. Then have your “L” bracket attached to the wall by screwing it. Hammer down some nails to the base shelf all the way to clear to secure the shelf in its position.