Taking into account the fact that nowadays mannequins have become a form of art, the title might sound redundant to a certain extent. However, the act itself of crafting a special showcase using manikins can be approached in a considerable number of ways, if we keep in mind the fact that, throughout the entire history, man has always expressed himself in very diverse forms of art. This versatile amount of artistic expression can be directed to creating original display cases (thus we may say that the strategy is product oriented), the procedure being able to imply relevance to retailers, store owners and so on.
The diverse and always in search of originality and new ways of expression world we live in can be seen as a challenge for those who want to survive it. We live in the era of “time is money” and retailers now that and struggle to come up with more appealing ways to define what they have to offer in a way that has to say everything with very few resorts of doing it. This cult for new / originality is not a whim of the world of fashion solely, but a fact that is to be seen everywhere. Even international, worldwide known brands from all fields offer generous resources to enhance their visibility (the so-called brand awareness).
Mannequins appear to be a solution, a marketing strategy for merchandisers who want to allocate resources to establish their own pattern of visual merchandising and understand this strong customer-friendly aspect that the mannequins carry within. The strategies can be used in order to increase sales during the entire year, by creating special display cases for certain events or feast days (Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Earth’s Day and so on), or more intricate ones, such as thematic: “Art-Nouveau Week”, “Haute-couture Fashion Week”.
This complex displays ought to be given special attention because it is required a lot of research and imagination in order to create something actually original and, at the same time, the strategy is difficult because, sometimes, we might think we know very well what the showcase is meant for, but the customers don’t. So, we need to be familiarized with the category of customers we built the display for (we must be client oriented), to envisage and also infer their tastes, but there has to be given special attention to the resources that we have to put our ideas into practice.
To respond to the need of people for artistic displays we can craft really interesting showcases by using some principles that have been intensely exploited in imitative arts over time. What we call surrealism, deconstruction, avant-garde or impressionism is more than just a simple term, but a more complex designation for a joint of principles and procedures that, when put together, create a totally different world within it, a world that function according to its laws.
And that is the point where a special attention needs to be paid: the customers may not always know our intention, but they will certainly be captivated if what they see is appealing and intriguing. Why not using what customers like to our benefits!? We all know that this need for originality has to be cultivated somehow and why not by using the same principles that made Salvador Dali, Piet Mondrian, Tristan Tzara or Andy Warhol famous? As a form of art, mannequins and their use should go along with the Zeitgeist (the spirit of the century). Some may have heard about Mondrian shoes or the multiple objects inspired by Dali’s paintings! Why not using the same principles in creating original and more artistic displays in order to ensure our collections of clothes or of jewelry!
The first step when trying to create such displays is answering the question: does my collection fit an art inspired display? Do I have enough resources? Does a strategy like this enhance the value of my collection? To what extent? When we have answered all these questions and we clearly decided that we should approach a new idea of display, we need to think secondly at the exact topic we want to choose. A mixture of techniques from different times might not be so appropriate.
When we have decided on the topic, we should try to be familiarized with the main principles on which that specific form of art function. If we choose surrealism as a topic, we should know that it is based on dream, strange creatures, unexpected juxtapositions. In pop-art we deal with a certain challenge to traditions, materials are being removed from their known content and combined with unrelated materials.
Hereafter, we need to focus on the main items that are used in order to express that particular principle into a form of art. Now it is time for the most important step, where we simply put into practice what the theory says. We set the display by using the mannequins in a certain environment, we think about the way in which we should built our mannequins, their mimic, gestures, and so on.
This is the stage for imagination, when we create those deconstructed mannequins with missing or recomposed body parts, objects that set up a background in which the human representation is no longer realistic – surreal representations, such as versatile bodies, items of human representation fused with other elements that could suggest a close relation between a body and an object (this can easily be used in order to direct the attention to a specific item of clothing that is important and it creates an individuality to the person who wears it), the use of well-known objects / elements, such as Dali’s melting clocks, Rembrandt’s chiaroscuro (which can be exploited especially for jewelry showcases by using the proper angle of light in order to create numerous effects on the item that is displayed).
This way of creating showcases offers a great number of possibilities because the forms of expression are limitless. Art, as a historic reality, is a prolific field that can be exploited with positive results. Today’s fashion certainly needs to find itself at the intersection of retail and design, imagination and creativity, in order to maintain its top position among other forms of art.
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