The LCF Archive, part of the Centre for Fashion Curation, has received 35 mannequins from Adel Rootstein Display Mannequins Ltd. The company is renowned for directly sculpting the mannequins from live models, transforming style icons including Twiggy, Sandie Shaw and Joanna Lumley into fibreglass forms, that adorned shop windows worldwide from the 1960s through to the 2000s.
The Archive has acquired one of the early figures – Twiggy, from 1967 – that proved so popular it spawned the very first female collection based on one model. Other important figures in the collection include Donyale Luna, the first black African American supermodel to be featured on the covers of British and American Vogue from 1967, and many of the legendary figures who typify their particular decades: Marie Helvin, Japanese model Sayoko and Pat Cleveland from the 1970s, Joan Collins and Dianne Brill personifying the glamour of the 1980s. Often the models were photographed with their mannequin “twins”.
A glitzy but more diverse and androgynous 1990s series of mannequins includes reproductions of models Yasmin Le Bon, Karen Mulder and Jodie Kidd, while the noughties heralded Erin O’Connor from the Super Models Collection.
Adel Rootstein was originally a display prop maker (for exhibitions such as The Festival of Britain in 1951) and also a window dresser at Aquascutum. She started by making wigs for mannequins in her Earls Court kitchen at a time when “swinging” London and its bright young things heavily influenced popular culture.
Rootstein is also donating mannequins to Brighton Museum and the Fashion Museum at Bath. Once the work of cataloguing and sorting them is complete the Centre for Fashion Curation plans to exhibit the mannequins, along with ephemera and original photographs selected from a vast archive of papers that the Company has also given to the College.