The body silhouette is never as prevalent as in Fashion Week, where models are primed to their thinnest, most structurally perfect forms as they embody not just the spirit of a label, but how the designer sees their clothing worn. It’s common for a model to play muse to these designers, but the way that plays down to the very base level of retail is something we don’t often think about, or indeed even notice.
Enter Ralph Pucci, master mannequin creator and expert on all things body image; “The mannequin body is obviously perfection” he begins with, but Pucci goes on to explain the idea of the mannequin goes much deeper than simply designing an object than looks nice to drape clothing off. To Pucci, mannequins are ever-changing, just as our societal idea of the perfect body changes. In the decades he’s spent designing and handmaking mannequins from his Manhattan studio, Pucci has been able to observe and document the changing way in which we perceive beauty. The perfect body may not exist in organic form, but Pucci captures our imagination and translates it into metal shape.
Pucci raises an interesting point within the debate on ‘the perfect body’, whatever that may be. He explains that decades ago, the defining look was ladylike, refined, elegant, whereas now the driving style is something more abstract and art-inspired. It’s not just how we see the clothes, but how we see them worn; a mannequin has to show off plenty more clothes than one collection on a runway. Maybe it’s not just the clothing but the frame underneath that is just as much a reflection of what we aspire to be.