Ever since Kim Cattrall winked knowingly as Starship blasted out of cinema speakers in the 1987 film Mannequin, culture has given plastic shop models a touch of existential gravitas. After Topshop’s were criticised for being too skinny, a strong argument was made for making mannequins more realistic, with many high-street chains taking note. River Island has taken this to its logical conclusion, with its new range of mannequins posing in a way that can best described as “sentient tween”, in a nod to the spending power of Generation Z.
One poses sitting down with its legs drawn up to its chest and a contemplative expression on its face, while another is taking selfies on a mobile.
As is its wont, Twitter quickly went quip-tastic: “The River Island mannequins look like they’re hungover in the shower, thinking about their life choices. u ok hun,” wrote one user. “I think they’re just on a selfie binge comedown,” said another. River Island soon responded, describing its instore displays as “distinctive” and saying that it wants to keep its shopping experience “fresh and different”.
Greater mannequin flexibility has become important in recent years – literally, in the case of Debenhams, which has also been busy giving its models a modern makeover. It has been using “freebody” mannequins since 2013. This mannequin type has articulated arms for easy movement – or tech-based contortions: “We can have them holding smartphones or tablets, making them more relevant to our modern shoppers and their lifestyles,” says Karen Shreeve, head of creative operations at Debenhams.
With this in mind, here are a few other postures for our modern-day mannequins to adopt:
Surprise album-drop worry
The mannequin should be positioned with its head in the its hands, as if worried whether its Wi-Fi is quick enough to download the latest surprise album drop, give it a listen and write a quippy tweet (pinned?) that encompasses the entire experience in one big lol.
The mannequin is positioned as if it has gamely taken on a 16-hour binge-watch of a new dystopian series set in the 1980s where (SPOILER ALERT!) some characters may or may not be vampires who suck the blood of potential Republican presidents. It’s all about the C-shaped curvature of the spine, with model and sofa melding into one big living sculpture. For added effect, sprinkle crinkle-cut crisps across the legs.
The mannequin is positioned on its knees in a praying pose, but there is no spiritual reverie here. This is the pose of the desperate – of someone whose iPhone has inexplicably deleted all their music, or whose Siri is refusing to understand the simple request: “Please find my keys.”
Man(nequin) – 0, technology – 1.