The first thing that comes to my mind when planning for an exhibition that has fashion is: how do we want to show the garments? Typically the answer is “on a mannequin”. While there are other ways to showcase clothing, such as hanging (as in the show I recently co-curated at Pratt Manhattan Gallery) or press-mounted into a 2-D shape (like the Maria Cornejo garments in our current Design USA exhibition), mannequins and dress forms provide the ideal architecture to support the garments in the round – as they are intended to be worn by their creators. Here at Cooper-Hewitt, with a nod towards sustainability and our bottom line, we have reused the same inexpensive distressed cardboard papier-mache dress forms for several of our exhibitions, including Fashioning Felt and the 2006 Triennial: Design Life Now, and they will again be used in our upcoming Triennial: Why Design Now? Now, these forms do the job perfectly well…but when the curator of our Quicktake: Rodarte show, Gregory Krum, mentioned that Ralph Pucci might possibly loan us his top of the line mannequins for the show, I was thrilled! For someone who dresses mannequins for exhibition as part of their job, this was like receiving the golden ticket!

After consultations between Cooper-Hewitt’s exhibition team, Krum and Kate and Laura Mulleavy, Pucci’s Manikin line was chosen as the ideal backdrop to showcase Rodarte’s stunning designs. A few months passed by in eager anticipation, and they’ve finally arrived! In 100 pieces! But no fear, we’ve put them back together and our fashion army is now ready for their Rodarte Quicktake!

Stay tuned for more behind-the-scenes sneak peeks, coming soon.

Exhibitions Registrar Melanie Fox organizes the body parts into piles that form complete mannequins

The Manikin fashion army, ready for their Rodarte!


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