During the Second World War, clothing became less ornate to save material for the war effort. Even mannequins did their bit by becoming slimmer and shorter than they had been.
The shortage of materials during the War also led to the development of substitute materials, such as plastics and fibreglass.
The first plastic mannequins were introduced by an American company in 1945. Unfortunately, after the new mannequins had been in the window for a few days, the plastic turned green in the sunlight – frightening passers-by.
Did you know?
Irrational fear of mannequins is called pediophobia.
In 1950, a Danish company, Hindsgaul Mannequins, produced the first commercially viable plastic mannequins, made of polyurethane. To demonstrate how lightweight and waterproof it was, the designers tossed a prototype nude female into a nearby river and watched it float away. The police soon received frantic calls that a murder had just occurred.
Fibreglass mannequins were also introduced in the 1950s. Fibreglass and plastic remain the most common materials used to make mannequins today.
After the Depression and War, people in the late 1940s wanted something different and Christian Dior gave them just that when he introduced introduced his “New Look” in 1947. His live models emulated dolls and mannequins followed suit – with narrow waists, rounded hips, high busts, sloping shoulders and stilted poses.
With increasing prosperity in the 1960s, young people began to have more spending power – and mannequin styles changed again to attract them.
Adel Rootstein became famous by making mannequins based on living pop culture figures – and pop culture figures became famous by having Rootstein mannequins modeled on them.
As well as famous people, Rootstein continues to produce trend-setting commercial mannequins.
In the 1970s, mannequins became more natural looking and anatomically accurate – and the joint between the mannequin’s upper and lower halves was lowered so that bikinis could be displayed without a visible split.
In the late 1970s, Ralph Pucci, who had inherited a New York mannequin repair business, started making mannequins in active poses – running, jumping, diving, doing handstands and in yoga poses. Over the years Pucci’s company has collaborated with different artists to produce unique, often surreal mannequins.