Thursday, July 19, 2007

Through the window

My grandfather, Donald (Don) Hall, was a commercial artist who designed mannequins for shop windows. These were proper mannequins, with cheekbones, and stylised hair, and pointing, elegant hands, designed to sport Dior; and thinking about this the other day as I walked along Des Voeux Road I realised that I had no idea what the mannequins looked like in any of the shops I pass every day. That's not just because I'm fixated on the clothes, but because they are not mannequins but dummies: designed to fade in to the background, and be as unnoticeable as possible. Many of them have no heads and no hands, or if they have heads, their faces are featureless. Look at them the next time you pass a clothes shop and you'll see what I mean. The dummies used to be aspirational for the women looking longingly at the clothes, part of the dream of what I could be if only I wore that dress; but now a dummy with a lifelike face would be unnerving, the lipstick garish, the eyes disturbing and the image all wrong.

Grandad was still desperate to create with his hands long after he stopped working, and insisted on creating, out of clay, an awful, mawkish effigy of my grandmother which he glued to her gravestone with epoxy resin - someone should have persuaded him otherwise, although I feel sad saying this, because to him it was real.

1 comment:

Claire said...

I never notice mannequins any more could tell me that no one uses them any more and I'd believe you.