The Art Of The Mannequin: “Form, Fashion, Function”/Ralph Pucci

The Art Of The Mannequin:  Fashion's Sculpture
The Art Of The Mannequin: Fashion’s Sculpture

The Art Of The Mannequin. The word “Mannequin” comes from the French word “Mannequin” which had acquired the meaning “An artists jointed model”. Of additional interest, the word itself is said to have originated from the Middle Dutch word “Manneken”, meaning “Little man, figurine”. A figurine and an artists model for fashion, either way. That said, I must turn to the artistry unveiled behind store front windows. For certain, fashion’s link with the mannequin has been transformed at the artistic hands of Ralph Pucci

“Mannequins should be elegant, modern, edgy and hip. Art should make you think”
– Ralph Pucci

Mesmerizing. That is how I would describe how I instantly felt upon arriving at the windows of Macy’s State Street store in Chicago. I was completely fascinated. The window display exhibition “FORM, FASHION, FUNCTION, A PUCCI RETROSPECTIVE”, opened in Chicago on April 15th and will continue until May 15th. It is stunning to behold. The simplicity and the beauty of fashion’s sculptural art form: The mannequin. Perhaps hypnotizing, I was compelled to compile image after image of the white delight that met my eyes with a powerful grip. Amidst the bold grouping of unadorned mannequins, videos, art installations and the black & white photography (which includes a sudden unexpected video clip of a mannequin bearing a bold red lip) lure the passerby in unexpected appeal. A striking visual staged to provide visual impact. And impact, it certainly does…

The Pucci Mannequin:  Form, Fashion & Function
The Pucci Mannequin: Form, Fashion & Function

And of these mannequins of elegant poise? Ralph Pucci. A major force behind Ralph Pucci International, Ralph Pucci is considered to be an innovator in the mannequin industry. Innovation, indeed. In 1976 Pucci became President of the mannequin company founded by his family in the 1950’s, previously known as the Pucci Mannequin Company (repairers and rehabber’s of mannequins). A new era began for the industry that is now known as the Visual Merchandising Industry. Currently, the artistry of these iconic mannequins are designed in Manhattan. Pucci is also considered a visionary and a “Renaissance Man” of the 21st century. When Pucci began to create the action of mannequins (such as headstands and athletic poses) he broke away from the old rigid forms. Fashion’s transformation, indeed. Ralph Pucci certainly changed the way mannequins are presented and introduced.

Beyond the images I have presented here, the world of Pucci’s mannequins is certainly diverse. And of the endless varieties of mannequins produced in collaboration with Pucci? In regards to his impressive team of visionaries, Pucci states:

My role at Pucci is to put together a team of the most innovative designers, artists and photographers. To exhibit and sell their work which has been designed exclusively for Ralph Pucci in a pure, exciting, uncompromised, luxurious way. I am not interested in the mass produced product. I want the hand of the artist to be seen and experienced.”

“I work with the best fashion illustrators, models, photographers and artists in the world to create a unique, well sculptured modern mannequins that reflect the hip society of today”.

Ralph Pucci & The Mannequin:  Artistry, Craftsmanship & Visual Form
Ralph Pucci & The Mannequin: Artistry, Craftsmanship & Visual Form

And of course, I could not bring forth a focus on Pucci without the visual inclusion of the iconic sculpting of my personal favorite model of all times- the classic and timeless beauty of Supermodel Christy Turlington. Although not part of the windows in Chicago, the compilation gathered below is evidence of further artistry of Pucci and his collaborations. Immortalized in a sculpted vision for the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MOMA) in 2002, the timeless elegance of Turlington’s face and body were later recreated in a series of yoga poses. Iconic Turlington, indeed. Could there be any face more classic from which to form art such as fashion’s sculpture? Alas, Form, Fashion, Function. Timeless…

Christy Turlington & Pucci:  A Collaboration Of Lasting Impressions
Christy Turlington & Pucci: A Collaboration Of Lasting Impressions
The Mesmerizing Mannequin:  Fashion's Lure
The Mesmerizing Mannequin: Fashion’s Lure
Visual Impact:  Pucci's Modern Mannequins
Visual Impact: Pucci’s Modern Mannequins
Pucci Impact:  The Artistry Of The Mannequin
Pucci Impact: The Artistry Of The Mannequin

Of my journeys that continually bring me to the streets of Chicago, this is what I seek. Inspiration. I will certainly forever recall the impact that struck me upon viewing the artistry that was presented behind the windows of Macy’s/State Street. Consider the simple beauty of the unadorned mannequin. Unexpected drama linked to fashion. Stark and bold paired with the beauty of form. For certain, there is not much difference between mannequins and sculpture. An art form for fashion. The “Art Of The Mannequin”, indeed…


“I believe there is an audience that is begging for something unique, fresh and original. Something of exceptional quality, something that will grow in value over the years, something that will be cherished.”- Ralph Pucci


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