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History of Mannequins

Posted by on 1/20/2016

The idea of window shopping was the spearhead for getting the mannequins we know of today. While the idea of displaying the clothing for those that want to shop is not necessarily a new concept, but the use of the mannequin is definitely something that is distinctive to the past century. The use of a mannequin has varied through their long history; however, they were always used in terms of clothing just not necessarily used as selling tools in displays.

In an article by Mannequin Madness that was originally found in the Smithsonian Magazine actually puts a mannequin in King Tut’s Tomb. The article states that Howard Carter, an Egyptologist, opened the tomb there was a wooden torso that was actually made to the Pharaoh’s measurements. As old at 1350 BCE the first mannequin actually describes what the first forms were used for.

Many rulers would have the dress maker, according to Street Directory, take their measurements and make a mimic of the royal body. This would allow their clothing to be tailor exactly to their body dimensions when they were made. That way the royals would have the best fitting clothing possible without the need for the royals to be indisposed for many hours at a time for precise measuring.

Many dressmakers used mannequins in order to properly form the clothing to the bodies form. This practice is still how many clothing articles are produced to fit a certain form of the body. The first mannequins after the wood ones were probably wicker filled with leather.

As machines expanded and clothing was able to be made at high speeds thanks to sewing machines and electricity. The invention of plate glass allowed for store fronts to display their goods to draw individuals attentions in the early 1900s during the Industrial Revolution according to Hopes and Fears.

The incorporation of head on the mannequins would display hats of the time that were worn to accentuate the outfit. Many mannequins could weigh up to 300 pounds at the time. One particular mannequin maker, Pierre Inman made mannequins that were up to a female size 18. As styles move through the 1900s the designs of the mannequin changed.

With the Victorian era, they boasted stiff Victorian poses and big busts, highlighting the importance of the time. Until The Great War, this design was the predominant form of the mannequin. Once men were on the front lines however, flexible mannequins became a necessity because they had to highlight the working woman, thus becoming more practical.

With the flapper era, the mannequin got thinner and a little more boyish to accentuate the flapper style of the time frame. These mannequins lost 100 pounds with the creation of the papier mache mannequin. With a short burst of model inspired mannequin designs, with the onset of WWII the mannequin became a simple wire frame and was smaller to conserve precious materials needed for the war.