Mannequins date back to ancient civilizations and have been an integral part of art and fashion for centuries. The mannequins we see in shop windows and on the floors of retail stores are just the latest development in this important item in fashion history.
Mannequins of the Past
The earliest known use of mannequins was in ancient Egypt. The ancient Egyptians used wooden mannequins to display clothing. Moving forward in ancient history, Greeks and Romans used wire and papier-mâché for the same purpose. During the Renaissance, artists used mannequins as models for paintings and sculptures. In the 19th century, Paris became the center of mannequin production and remained so until the mid-20th century.
Around this time, we also begin to see mannequins used in ways we are familiar with. They became more commonly used in store windows to display clothing and accessories. At this time, mannequins were made from papier-mâché and later from wax. In the early 20th century, mannequins were made from celluloid and eventually from plastic, materials that are still common today. In the 1920s and 30s, mannequins became less realistic and more stylized, resembling the Art Deco fashion of the time. That trend was soon abandoned, however, and on the whole, mannequins have become more realistic.
Changes in Recent History
In more recent history, we start to see mannequins that resemble those we see today. In the 1960s, mannequins became more anatomically correct, reflecting the changing beauty standards of the time. In the 1990s, mannequins became more realistic and diverse, with different sizes and skin tones. Today, we use mannequins not just in store windows, but also in museum exhibits, photography, and film. They are designed to be as lifelike as possible and are often made using 3D printing technology. 3D printing allows for a high level of detail that was not possible before. Some high-end department stores and fashion brands use customized mannequins that are specific to their brand aesthetic, further emphasizing the role of mannequins as an integral part of a store's visual merchandising strategy.
Retail Mannequins from Joslin Displays
Mannequins continue to be an essential part of fashion and clothing retail. At Joslin Displays, we supply retailers with a wide range of mannequins and display items for their stores.