Cynthia….the first mannequin

15 Jan
I’m sure that there are many VM’s out there that have no idea who Cynthia is or was. Cynthia was the first modern display mannequin. Her introduction caused a sensation when she was introduced back in 1937 by her creator Lester Gaba. She was the first practical mannequin, up until her mannequins were mostly French imports made of wax, that had a tendency to melt in summer heat, creating a ghoulish effect due to the glass eyes and real human teeth, think Vincent Price in the film “House of Wax”
Needless to say, not a pretty sight. Cynthia was a non melting component mannequin much like current forms. She was the first with stylized facial features that escued the ” Madame Tussaud’s” wax museum realism. She was throughly modern. She even sat at cocktail bars and smoked.
Ask any display person and they will tell you that there exists an almost fetishistic fascination with our tools of the trade. I can’t even begin to relate how many times I have suffered through wise cracks aimed me as a mannequin is disassembled during a window change. Sooo boring. It’s takes every bit of my composure to keep my mouth shut when the comments arrive.
Mr. Gaba was the first “Dresser” to discover the fascination the public has for mannequins and so was LIFE magazine.
I have to hand it to Lester, seize the moment! and that he did. Cynthia was carted around New York to been seen in all the right places. We should all be as lucky to mount such display opportunities.
The display team takes Cynthia for a tour, bet they had fun.
Cynthia takes in popular culture at New York’s Broadhurst theater
Cynthia attends a chic dinner party with her “boys”
Cynthia only dines at the best places.
Jungle Red Please!
Cynthia between shoots with her mentor, Lester
Lester do we have to use the subway, after all I’m a star.
Cynthia in her traveling ensemble. Lester is this first class?
Cynthia was years before my time, but a few of my display mentors, used to speak about her with reverent fondness, as if they knew her personally. She was the first, Lester her creator revolutionized the display industry. Together they are responsible for all the insane relationships VM’s have with our silent friends who daily provide the means that create our “stories”

2 Responses to “Cynthia….the first mannequin”

  1. vori52 January 19, 2014 at 8:33 am #

    Good to know there are those still out there who recognize her importance in the display world.


  1. Meet Cynthia The First Mannequin | Fixtures Close Up® -- Store & Point-of-Purchase Fixture Reviews - January 19, 2014

    […] Visual Merchandising education is not complete unless you know the story of “Cynthia … the First Mannequin” cited here from the Retail Fix. For all the details in text and photos take a side trip there […]

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