Mannequins have been a part of storefronts and displays since the 1900s when they filled beachfront stores and department store decks on cruises and more. Informal fashion shows date back to the renaissance period during the time of Marie Antoinette. Formal fashion shows did not arrive until nearly 200 years later where live models walked the runways. The way fashion is displayed is ever-changing. A few pandemic-influenced changes are making their way into the fashion world, and I think they’re worth mentioning.
Both mannequins and models display fashion and art, so let’s break down the differences:
A mannequin (or dress form) is a life-sized dummy used for draping, fitting, or displaying clothes and a model is a real-life person who wears clothing for fashion or poses for artwork.
The pandemic has made life in the fashion world a lot different, especially speaking on the creative and construction end. Designers and fashion brands had to think outside the box to keep everyone involved in the production safe, while still making products and marketing them (on the business end).
First up, the Purdue Fashion Show at Purdue University has been on a hiatus and is finally making its comeback after three years for several reasons, one being the pandemic that caused many delays. This show was very successful in the past, and the pandemic found non-design majors showing interest in this event. This fashion show is different, one of the most obvious changes being that instead of a runway show, it will be more like an exhibition. Mannequins will display fashion designs instead of models. Directors of the fashion program are excited to introduce the change, which will allow the pieces to stay on display longer than their typical one-day fashion show to show the students’ hard work. This setup has allowed students to work at their own pace while still receiving help from professors digitally.
In China and other countries, models and mannequins are being morphed together in a new AI way. Mannequins are being incorporated into e-commerce shoots instead of models solely. The shots are taken on mannequins, using a green screen backdrop, then digital models are downloaded later to create the final result. Shooting can happen remotely and allows production to go a lot faster- rather than having an entire team on set for the whole day. Different outfit combinations can be made and styled without the need for additional photos. Costs are much lower using this method, and instead of taking pictures, the pictures are created. This method has been helpful since different areas are looking for different types of models to fit the particular characteristics in their place, and international models have been unable to travel for over a year due to pandemic travel restrictions. The models can have their photos taken in their home country from there the photos are made into digital models. Essentially products are shot on mannequins with the green screen then placed on the digital models at a later time.
Though the pandemic posed lots of travel restrictions and health concerns for those in the fashion industry, especially fashion models, they prevailed. It seems that designers and clothing brands across the board are finding ways to navigate the obstacles using models and mannequins as needed and, in some cases, using both.
Do you think we are moving to a fully mannequin-based industry, continuing to be a blend, or eventually moving away from mannequins completely?