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    Designed to showcase athleisure and contour make-up, mannequins across the globe  are getting an update.

    IT is hard to avoid the street trope of athleisure. Look in any fashion-forward shop window and you may see the fluid lines of mannequins as they model workout clothes for life outside the gym. ‘‘The permanent need of movement and comfort has been the base for many clothing lines recently. Mannequins have followed suit in a range of active athletic poses from running and swimming, to dancing, and even incorporate a few more curves and muscles,’’ says Jon Harari, CEO of WindowsWear, a fashion display windows expert based in New York City. The trend, which is growing abroad, is also visible in stores across the country. As Kolkata-based scenographer Swarup Dutta (he has created fantasy settings for designers like DevRNil and Anamika Khanna), informs us, we have come a long way from the initial mannequins which were made of wax. Quoting marketing professional Leighann Morris, the author of the article The Complete History of Mannequins: Garbos, Twiggies Barbies and Beyond, he says, ‘‘Over the past hundred years, figures change to reflect the advents of window shopping, women’s liberation, Barbie doll fetishism, fiberglass, and Twiggy, to name a few… changing attitudes towards the female form… and developments in materials and technology.”

    Mannequins today could be stark white (as seen at the multi-design store Evoluzione), and sometimes presented with beautiful contour makeup. Theatric touches add impact, as seen at Macy’s department store in New York in December 2015, where 50 years of Charles Schulz’s comic character, Charlie Brown, resulted in a fantastical display. Going by the mobile mannequins in shop windows in London during the holiday season, interactive mannequins have a following, as they dance or stretch in shop windows. Recently, students of Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s Institute of Textiles and Clothing designed mannequins that can change size and shape to suit a garment. “I am waiting for hologram models to replace the mannequins soon! You can see all the clothes in 3D and models walking in and out of the store, virtually!” adds Dutta. We bring you up to speed on a few mannequin trends:

    Abstract rules
    Abstract figures with animated expressions are in demand.  “As the fashion industry in India is maturing, it is understanding how to edit and minimise extra bits. So when you create mannequins with lesser detailing, it creates lesser distraction as your clothes need to speak more,” explains Navonil  Das from Kolkata-based brand DevRNil. Tina Malhotra, the owner of  Chennai-based Evoluzione adds to that thought. “The key to our display is to use mannequins dynamically in enhancing the visual experience, without distracting or taking away from the garments themselves.” Mannequins will soon take their cue from manufacturers like Proportion London; their new collection, Mademoiselle, sports Alexander Mcqueen’s latest and has hand gestures that communicate attitude. “More abstract without well defined facial features, different kind of colours, different postures, that’s what is in demand now in India,’’ confirms Ravi Verma, CEO of Delhi-based mannequin manufacturer, Clone Mannequins Inc. With clients like Evoluzione and Dev R Nil, fibreglass mannequins here begin at Rs 7,000.

    Calling the shots
    Global player, Proportion London, supplies to the likes of Alexander McQueen, Dolce&Gabbana, Paul Smith and Ralph Lauren. Their papier mache mannequins can be hired at approximately Rs 5,220 (per week). Details: proportionlondon.com
    Meanwhile, Germany’s Genesis Mannequins meets the demand for mannequins with fabric lined bodies and movable wooden arms, and special maternity and kid mannequins. From Rs 33,420 (approximately) onwards. Details: genesis-display.com/en/

    Dutta’s pick
    “If you go to Dilli Haat in the capital, you will see some interesting visual merchandising at the quaint boutiques,” says Kolkata’s Dutta.
    Pointing to high street brands that have caught his attention through their window dressing, he shares his favourites:
    ●  Spanish brand Mango’s mannequins, which are  stylised with elongated features
    ●  Jack n Jones for rustic mannequins
    ●  Adidas and Nike for their international visual merchandising expertise

    — Saloni Sinha

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