By CATHY HORYN
Published: May 5, 2010
"Twenty or 30 years ago, it was relatively easy to walk down Fifth Avenue and see differences in mannequins, differences not only in color and ethnic characteristics but also attitude and even emotion, which were conveyed by the novelty of the displays and, of course, the fashion. Nowadays, though, with few exceptions, the great avenue provides a window into limited resources and eroded convictions. By using the generic-looking mannequins, stores seem to want to erase the issue of race and ethnic identity — as much as blogs now serve to highlight these distinctions.
“A lot of stores just avoid that issue by spraying everything gloss white and not putting any features on the mannequin,” said Michael Steward, the executive vice president of Rootstein, a top specialist in realistic mannequins based in New York and London. “They don’t want to make a mistake.”
Similarly, he said, a designer client will spend $50,000 a day for a model for an advertising shoot but will fret over the choice of mannequin until finally saying, “Oh, just make it headless.”
As for the hot topic of body shape, mannequin makers do care — up to a point. Since the purpose of a mannequin is to display goods, its measurements can’t be too far out of line with standard dress sizes. A bit bustier and fuller in the hips, fine. But a shape that actually reflects many women’s bodies is a tough sell. Ralph Pucci, a maker of abstracts, produced a plumpish mannequin a while back, but sold hardly any. “It was just a big wow in the press, and the stores went back to tried and true, size 2 and 4,” Mr. Pucci said"
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