Mannequins. Body as a piece of art

Interview with Gosia Botor for Linia magazine (excerpts).

People have always made mannequins – in the Antique Era, specially shaped hangers were used for robes and wigs. In the Middle Ages, tailor corrections were made on human-shaped wire models, in order not to trouble the higher class. Today, mannequins have reached a state-of-art level, they create stories. Gosia Botor – mannequin and window dressing lover and Creative Director of the MORE Mannequins brand told us more about the secrets of production, types, collections and possibilities in the interview below.  

Most people imagine that mannequins come into the word as heavy sculpture forms – in workshops, full of dust, the smell of chemicals and the noise of machines in-use. Is that the reality of how it really looks like? 

The workshop really resembles a shot from “Westworld” or “Blade Runner “. The mannequins are hanging in the paint-shop, they are either divided into parts or they pile up to the ceiling in large boxes. Only 15 years ago, mannequins were created “the old-school way”, with clay sculptures and making casts. Today we help ourselves with new technologies. Design programmes enable us to have more options at an earlier stage, e.g. position settings or the symmetry of the mannequin. 3D printers speed up the process of designing prototypes and then serve as templates for the matrix.

What does the process of creating mannequins look like? 

The technical process of creating a mannequin is quite simple. Form, sculpture cast, cleaning, grinding and finishing the mannequin with varnish in the selected colour. However, before this stage we need some time to focus on what exactly we want to create. What emotions do we want the customer to feel? Who is the target of our collection? How will each model – standing solo or in a group arrangement – transmit our story clearly to the customer?

Now that we know how it is made, the question is – how long does it take?

To create a collection from scratch we give ourselves half a year. We gather inspirations and create a narrative about the collection. Next, we choose the preliminary positions and make a photoshoot with a real-life model. Following that we select the best shots and begin to work with a graphic designer. This is a crucial moment because it is then that we decide about the collection’s character, what will define it and make it stand out. The proportions of abstraction and realism are also important. Later, the silhouettes are printed in 3D and then they are forwarded to the sculptor. He gives them the ultimate form. Finally, we decide on the finishing layer.

Let’s talk about the finish. It seems that the proper setting of a mannequin, dressing it, choosing a wig and the right makeup is almost an art!

Window dressing and mannequin styling is certainly a job for someone who knows fashion and understands how materials work, for someone who can create compositions in the shop window, arrange lighting and pedantically keep the display in perfect order. The devil is in the detail. Mannequins can complement the atmosphere of the store – or break it. For example, a wedding room – we imagine that it is a perfect place for realistic mannequins in skin shade with delicate makeup – like a better version of us on our special day. What’s surprising, the owners often choose abstract mannequins in a silver chrome finish. As if they wanted to distance themselves from the body and focus completely on the dress. Window displays are like 3D illustrations. It takes time and knowledge to prepare them correctly.

Photography: Małgorzata Pstrągowska

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LINIA is a new Polish Magazine dedicated to architecture, design, art and real estate properties, available in selected locations of Northern Poland.

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