Has anyone done the #MannequinChallenge with actual mannequins in their midst? If it ever was to be attempted, last night at the opening reception of Ralph Pucci presents Rebecca Moses Mes Demoiselles Imperfectly Perfect (on view until 12/13) would have been the imperfectly perfect time and place. Ralph Pucci’s name is synonymous with his brand of original style mannequins. You may also be familiar with Rebecca Moses, a fashion designer and artist specializing in fashion illustration and now — you guessed it — mannequins!
As you may have also guessed by the title, hers are no ordinary, generic, department store mannequins. Rather they are regal creatures of Modigliani-esque proportions, with various skin, eye colors and shapes, hair coloring and styles plus unique features. Much like a novelist, Moses creates a tale around each of her exotic women, giving them names and a back story including heritage, place of birth and other characteristics which are evident in how they present.
|Murals by Rebecca Moses|
“It all starts with the painting,” Moses explained, indicating the murals lining several of the gallery walls at 44 West 18th Street which showcase stylized portraits of several of the 29 “girls.” Often the 3D end product of her imagination is displayed in front of the painting culminating in the sophisticated human sized doll come to life.
Different head shapes and facial features are used while eyes and brows are painted on to give each an individuality. Moses uses color to great effect when creating and of course, dressing a character with enviable style.
Clothing and accessories, often hand painted, are works of art by Moses including coats and bags. Various textiles including chiffons, silks, crocheted/ macramed and jeweled knitwear, cashmere with a braided trim –intricate appliques and other embellishments abound on garments, hats, earrings, and everywhere. Some mannequins are full sized and others are jewelry or hat busts, often sporting chic glasses.
|Ralph Pucci gets the point with Freddie Leiba on his left
wearing blazer and jeans
Before the gallery space filled up I walked around in a daze admiring the overall beauty and particularly the accessories (all created by Moses and styled by Freddie Leiba). I literally had to fight the urge to um… try on some of the fittings modeled on dem bad bitches. I want to have lunch with these broads — they have personality oozing out of their non-existent pores.
|Robert Di Mauro with Nicole Fischelis on his right|
As the room filled I saw and greeted many familiar fashion folk including Moses friend and retail adviser Nicole Fischelis (I think I may have actually spied some of these fabulous “plasticine princesses” in Macy’s window?) and man-about-town Robert Di Mauro.
|Right: Artist Scooter LaForge|
Bill Cunningham’s muse Louise Doktor appeared briefly in a jeweled black cape coat which looked like something that could have been displayed on a mannequin and, of course, made me realize that Cunningham would have been here snapping away…
|Amy Fine Collins|
Other sightings included Amy Fine Collins, Freddie Leiba, Artist Scooter LaForge accompanied by an artist friend girding half his face behind one of Scooter’s clown mouth mask designs (I thought perhaps he had just had oral surgery lol); Photographer Richard Renda and a few of the ubiquitous Idiosyncratic Fashionistas that can be counted to show up at any fashion event.
Moses, who was very busy hugging her guests and juggling throngs of well wishers at the event, worked for a year on this project with the aim of enlivening and relieving the retail landscape of some of its current blandness. “I think that imperfection is always so captivating,” she had previously explained. I saw her holding a 2017 calendar by Susan Miller (The Year Ahead 2017 Astrological Calendar) which features her illustrations and is available here.
As far as astrology who knows what lies ahead? Maybe Moses’s version of the Mannequin Challenge can help make retail great again.