We have a passion for vintage and antique mannequins, which we source from across France, the home of haute couture and world-leading fashion.
It is easy to forget that the mannequin was a work horse, a tool of the couturier's trade.
The history of the mannequin dates back over the centuries but they became widely used from the mid 19th century. Mannequins were used by the Paris fashion houses to display their latesr creations to wealthy clients in the distant provences by dispatching complete outfits ready for viewing. These created a tangible and tactile 'catalogue' that stimulated desire and demand for the styles we still enjoy today. From Napoleon 111 to La Belle Epoque mannequin production was at its height.
Today, few of the mannequins survive and it is extremely rare to find one which does not exhibit its years of use. This can be rust marks created by pins remaining in the fabric, wear around the arms and shoulders where garments have been draped and fitted, tears and cuts from tailoring on the mannequin buste, and the ocassional indent caused by a tight ftting corset. It is quite usual and should be expected to find traces of woodworm in the stand and evidence of moisture damage or damp.
None of this detracts from the appeal of an antique mannequin, as it is all part of the individual history of each unique piece. The patina of age adds to their charm and is a hallmark of authenticity and pedigree. Our mannequins have come from dusty chateau attics, couture ateliers, old stone barns and lost at the back of garages. Some are cherished as part of the family history, complete with period gowns, whilst others have long since fallen out of favour and been abandoned to their fate.
The length of body, bust, waist, hip shape and size, reflect the ideal female form of their period. Comparison of the early models with those from the first half of the 20th century show a significant transition through the decades. As stiff corsetry, which sculpted the female form for the prevailing fashions, was abandoned in favour of the liberal styles that followed the first World War, the wasp waist was lost and the mannequin form became androgynous and elongated.
We like to share our passion for mannequins with kindred spirits. If you would like more information on which mannequin style is best for your needs, email us to request our fact sheet which includes tips on how to understnd your mannequin's features and buy wisely. We regularly source particular period mannequins for our clients around the world - our 'ladies' have found new homes in Australia, North America and across Europe.