Strike a pose

Pierre Imans mannequin 1956

Shelf Appeal has long had a bit of a thing for shop mannequins. An undergrad dissertation on the things way back when didn’t finish off the obsession. Neither did an MPhil on inter-war shop display. Shop windows are still a trip hazard.

All along, whilst trying not collect an archive for a future museum of mannequins – a few things have remained on the shelf. Including a small set of B&W press photos, of which this is one. They’re from an old shop fitters up north, found in a plastic carrier bag of bits going into a skip.

The Parisian firm of Pierre Imans was one of the mannequin manufacturers. If you didn’t buy Siegel Stockman Mannequins then you certainly should have bought Imans. No others were remotely up to shop window snuff.

Imans’ ladies (Stockman’s too) were all tied up (sometimes literally) in the surrealist obsession for mannequins. They came in all sorts of different finishes and poses for solo effect or tableau settings. Lush catalogues presented them in couture dresses, often named, always elegant. The designers who knew how to model mannequins worked for Imans or Stockmans. External commercial artists were sometimes bought in to add excitement. Fashion illustrator Erte dabbled to effect at Imans.

This sparky swimwear model is from 1956. She is a more sophisticated manufacture than many of her contemporaries – no joints visible and probably quite difficult to dress and pose. She would have come with a face painted a la mode. And this was the year of Funny Face after all.

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