Rendez-Vous with Art: The Art of the Mannequin

By Dakshayani Shankar

via the Museum of Arts and Design

Ralph Pucci has outdone himself with his beautiful exhibit, “The Art of The Mannequin.” In collaboration with the Museum of Art and Design, New York based designer, Pucci has sculpted 30 different mannequins that embody the slow evolution of fashion from the dusky 1950s to today’s Zen-like yoga society. Each mannequin embodies the quintessential features of a specific fashion period but also contains a hint of a viral fashion element that can be expected within the period following it.

Set against a crimson-hued wall, the rows of mannequins mark Pucci’s inherent determination to alter the fashion industry’s stereotype of a supermodel. Lined with thick, charcoal eyebrows and pouty blood-red lips, Ada, the mannequin reveals the 1990s slow acceptance of the supermodel with bright red lips and thickly lined eyes and eyebrows. Ada’s whimsical cartoon-like figure, a stark contrast to the hourglass figure of its time, characterizes Pucci’s vision: to always stay one step ahead of the fashion game.

Pucci has always desired to counter against the norms. If the trend is skinny, he prefers slender. If the supermodel has a stony expression, he tries to create mannequins with child-like expressions. Pucci likes the scandalous ideas of the future and always collaborates with designers who possess visions that transcend their eras.

“I like those whom step out of the vanilla box of fashion. When I grew up in the 1950s, it was perfectly acceptable to sculpt perfect male action mannequins but not female action mannequins. That was highly abhorrent,” said Pucci, with a slight crinkle in his eyes. “With the female surrogate movement and all, why wouldn’t we be ready for female mannequins with expression, color, and diversity? After all, fashion is to embrace the future! And gender equality is rising!”

If you’re still contemplating whether you should experience this surreal and complimentary exhibition, the addition of Pucci’s Sculpting Studio may change your mind.

The Museum of Art and Design has recreated Pucci’s Sculpting Studio to allow viewers to glimpse the thought processes of the sculptor himself and the many different facets and methods of mannequin construction. Two huge plasma TVs on the left side of the room contain time-lapse videos that take viewers through the step-by-step motion of creating a Pucci mannequin. It may sound easy, but believe me: once you’ve watched the video, you might realize how simple a Writing The Essay paper is in comparison to a Pucci mannequin.

The Museum is also offering sculpting sessions with Pucci’s head sculptor, Michael Evert, where viewers are given an inside-look into how a mannequin is sketched, wired, and transformed into its final pose. Every Sunday between May 2nd and August 2nd, viewers can also collaborate with artist educators Jano Cortijo and Temar Francis to wire mannequin models themselves and understand how wires represent the veins of a mannequin.

If mannequins still don’t exactly excite you, Pucci’s additional supernatural-themed jewelry exhibition with Ralph and Isabel Toledo will certainly entice you. Featuring a moonscape entwined with undulating hills and half-bird/half-female mannequins, the jewelry exhibition represents the collection of jewelry across 30 years and the long-standing friendship between Pucci and the Toledos.

“The wires in each half-bird/half-female mannequin were the same wires that were used to join the body parts of Pucci’s 30 mannequins,” said Glenn Adamson, Director of MAD. “It symbolizes the ingrained connection between the Toledos and Pucci as well as their joint desire to seek out and capture the new.”

With 30 mannequins, a sculpting studio, and a jewelry exhibition, Pucci’s exhibition seems to be serving an air of freshness to everyone. The exhibition runs from March 31st until August 30th.

Specific dates for the Sculpting Sessions: April 23, May 7, May 21, June 11, June 25, July 2, July 23, August 6, August 27 from 6-8 p.m.

 Dakshayani Shankar is a contributing writer. Email her at


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