From time to time, when I come across a shop that has a regular mannequin in its window, or preferably standing outside, I like to set myself a challenge, and see if I can replace that mannequin. Firstly, it’s very satisfying after taking care to match the mannequin’s colour, make-up and pose, to initially not be noticed; Then there is the reaction when the mannequin moves; often as not, the footfall is local, and they’ve seen this mannequin for years, and tend to ignore it, but when it’s started to wave to you or said “Good morning”, the look on their faces is one of total disbelief and bemusement.
I came across Kenneth Gee work wear web site and this looked perfect. The shop had had three mannequins standing outside for many years. I drove up to the shop one day in the summer and spoke to the owner, who said it would be fine for me to take the place of one of the mannequins.
The Shop was a family run business that had been there since the 50’s, but unfortunately was due to close down in December.
The mannequins are dressed in various types of work-wear. One mannequin was dressed in a red boiler-suit which had a great faded look from years of being outside in all weathers. To add to the authenticity, and to blend in, I like to wear the actual clothing that the mannequin has been wearing.
This was in July, and still a bit hot, so I waited until the weather cooled and the forecast didn’t indicate rain. It's now September, so the day for me to go there is set, Saturday’s are the busiest and there is a popular butcher’s next door. I arrive just after 10:15 after a lengthy trip around the north circular, where I meet the shop assistant. The Shop is cavernous in side, old school, with piles of work wear as far as the eye can see.
After deciding where I could change, and more importantly,
where I could plug in my hair dryer, necessary to dry the latex, I indicated to
the assistant that it was the mannequin currently outside in the middle position
that I wanted to replace; she then brought it in to the shop and stared
removing its clothing.
I then started preparing for the hour long process to apply the latex make-up and latex wig. During this process I popped out a few time to look the mannequin to compare the skin tone and general look to get the make-up as close as I could. I had noticed that the mannequins had clearly had a few knocks and bumps over the wears. I used a silver pencil to on my nose, chin and eye, to mimic where the mannequin had been damaged, and give a more authentic used mannequin look.
After the make-up was finished, I tried on the boiler-suit, it was a bit snug, but it looked great. I purposefully didn’t wear shoes, as the other mannequins just had socks on, in hindsight, this was a bit hard on the feet, but the effect was important.
The night before, I’d made up some gloves with latex, but
I wasn’t too happy with them as they looked a bit too wrinkly.
So I’m ready to go, but there were a few people outside, so I waited a few moments until the coast was clear slipped out and stood next to one of the mannequins.
The work-wear shop is next to a butchers, so there was a constant stream of people passing-by; all in all a fun day.