Mannequins of the world

Mannequins are a mirror of how we would like to be, a glamorous alternative of who we are. In 1964 Adel Rootstein developed the first celebrity mannequin when she sculptured a 14 year old Twiggy. Since then the "ideal glamour woman" has been used as a template, from Lynda Carter to Victoria Beckham, depending on current social preferences.

They also mirror our social times. After World War II mannequins were made with happy smiles as they welcomed the troops home. In the months following 9/11 the mannequins in New York were sombre and draped in red white and blue.


Six months later mannequins had lost their heads or their faces and the windows of New York were without glamour or personality.


It took more than a year before frivolity returned.


The mannequins of Hollywood Boulevard mirror a slightly tawdry, totally unreal sexuality.


Mannequins mirror the cityscape back at us on the windows they hide behind. City reflections take the mannequins out of the window and place them firmly in our world where they are very much alive. Like us.

New York

The city they inhabit is familiar but is seen eerily in reverse.


The city reflections put the mannequin in a time and space, from the skyscrapers of New York, to the grand emporiums of Regent Street London and to the country shop fronts of rural Australia.


Camperdown, Victoria

I began shooting mannequins in New York in 1977 and a fascination turned into an obsession and then a profession.



I've travelled the world trying to find mannequins that reflected the local community but I found the opposite. Chanel windows look the same in Tokyo, in Melbourne, in New York and all places in between.



An aside about Chanel: for years they used mannequins based on Erin O'Connor and Ute Lemper, a couple of years ago they changed to a very ugly cheaper mannequin, much to the disgust of stylists.


I couldn't find an Asian mannequin in Shanghai or Hong Kong.

Hong Kong


And now, world chains are rolling out their look throughout the world. Zara, internationally are using an abstract white mannequin that has graphic black elements added to it for a change.


But I noticed last year, so it may have changed by now, in London Zara was still using realistic Rootstein mannequins.



I'd like to thank all stylists and visual merchandisers for dressing your city and making travel for me always exciting.



For a collection of world windows check this out

For more models of the world


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