Group: Josie Reeve, Kate Benjamin, OliviaMcGuinness
Brief: With the use of a plain male or female mannequin, modify if to emulate the culture, civilisation, city or country that you are given.
Chosen culture: Himalayas.
We began with doing in depth research towards the 5 surrounding countries, and the people that inhabit the area; finding the Tiji Festival of Mustang, Nepal. According to monterosa-nepal.com, 'the festival is a three-day ritual known as "The chasing of the Demons" and it is centred on the Tiji myth: a deity named Dorje Jono who must battle against his demon father to save the Kingdom of Mustang from destruction. Throughout the festival the events and story of the myth are re-enacted' using masks. We used this traditional dress as our inspiration for our vibrant mannequins mask.
For the body, we focused on what the Himalayas are notoriously known for: mountains. We found images that used a colour palette of neutral tones in blue and grey to contrast the harsh colours of the mask.
Overall, my group and I are very please with the outcomes of our work. Mod-rocing the entire torso, arms and thighs was a very time consuming process, however the results are very effective and looked like a mountainous landscape. The facial mask was done to the plan and imitates the Tiji Festival. On reflection, if I were to change anything here I would have liked the tongue to be of a redder hue, rather than solid purple as I feel like it blends in a little. I like the addition of the fabric fringing that echoes the traditional dress of the Nepalese, and add to the authenticity of the mannequin.
Round 2 at Harrods began at 8 with dressing 5 mannequins in the Men's International Gallery on the Lower Ground floor. Having being chosen the day previous, the fashion team and I set to stripping, dressing and editing the army of mannequins. I like the complimenting looks of the 5; individually they are all wearable outfits but as a group they all don't explicitly match each other, instead they have accessories that compliment a unifying look.
In this room I also changed a jacket for Balmain and assisted the VM team in neatening up their selling space with the use of the brand's Visual Merchandising guidelines. Previously, only working with free reign over the dressing and styling of mannequins; it was an insight into field visual merchandising, travelling store to store and displaying product under specified guidelines which got me looking into other VM job opportunities.
Later on in the day, I assisted in picking for a group of male mannequins in the Men's Tailoring room on the Ground Floor, specifically for Harrods of London and a separate grouping for Canali. Having a passion for men's wear, especially tailoring, really helped me give my best possible input to the task in hand of assisting the team pick the looks.
Having my Branding tutor at the FRA to also work for Adel Rootsein Mannequins, meant it was more or less inevitable that our class would be taking a trip to the factory in West Kensington at some point over the course of the year.
Being more accustomed to wrangling all sorts of clothes onto mannequins and trying not to break the fingers off the delicate hands, I had never thought about their production, never mind the complexity of it all.
Edward Stammers, tutor and our tour guide, began with the moulding of the face. 'An interesting face makes for a better mannequin...Rootsein tend to base their decision of the model on their facial structure over their bodily proportions', unlike many of their competitors, at Rootsein use a live model and sculpt an initial mannequin out of clay. Its a time consuming process; the model will have to stand for several hours at a time and pictures of the position are taken for the sculptor's reference.
The clay statue is then made into a mould for the fibreglass/resin mix to create a familiar mannequin.
The mannequins are sprayed and resprayed, and sprayed again by experts to build a clean, smooth and consistent colour all over the body.
The hair and make up is such an intricate process rows upon rows of 'faces' line the walls of one corridor for clients to mix and match their choice of make up for their mannequins.
This trip really opened my eyes to the potential of mannequins, and how time consuming the process is, from sculpting all the way to shop window, and every consideration from a crossed finger to prominent hip bone. I've got a whole new appreciation for mannequins!
I arrived on 30/10/13 to the final stages of
the Windows Team installation of Christmas windows before the
on 1st November and the Christmas parade. With this department I installed 2
small Chloe Sunglasses windows; we made a luxury carriage seat, upholstering
with a purple and gold fabric, and placed the props and product. I also
had the opportunity to go into the main windows. Primarily I was instructed to
clean the props due to the construction work creating dust in the windows but this still taught me about the importance of perfection whatever the cost maybe,
which is invaluable in VM.
Of all the teams I
preferred working in Fashion as the tasks made me feel like I was a full time
employee rather than a temporary one: I felt welcomed and valued as a team
member.The work itself was
very structured; a typical day consisted of 8-10.30am mannequin dressing,
11am-1pm meetings with buyers and managers, and 2-4.30pm choosing clothes for
the mannequin dressing the following day. I was given the opportunity to pick
the styling of mannequins on a daily basis; this taught me a lot on commercial
styling and the importance of the sales figures: responding by pushing certain
garments on the mannequins. I was
also able to accompany the team in choosing and assembling products in the
Harrods Gift Bureau, which showed the variations of Visual Merchandising and
that it wasn't only limited to mannequins.
My final week was
spent with the VM Home department. This experience was my first taste of
professionally styling of home wares and it was interesting to see the
similarities and differences between fashion and home wares. Some of the same
principles were applied; repetition, variation of height and the emphasis on
the one off and/or interesting pieces. In this department I felt out of my
depth in terms of offering my own opinion to the team as my lack of experience
had let me down, however being in the presence of experts allowed me to build up techniques. One of the large scale tasks I was given was in relation to
their upcoming install for the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge; myself and the team made the festive garlands for the Christmas trees,
which again reflected the bespoke services and varied sides to the VM at
During my time at
Harrods I met with the Director of Store Image, Mark Briggs; Meeting with
someone who has worked up through visual merchandising at Harrods from Trainee to Director was
inspiring to a student like myself and reflected the longevity and credibility
of a career at Harrods and Visual Merchandising universally.
The 3 weeks work
experience immensely valuable to me, as it was my first experience of
professional visual merchandising. Furthermore, I will be returning weekly to
Harrods in Feburary for a 3 month internship with the Fashion team, as I enjoyed it and
desire to build up my styling portfolio.