My company has been selling used Rootstein mannequins that I recycled from retail stores for almost 20 years. I have conducted business with mannequin collectors from all over the US and Canada.
One of my customers has over 100 Rootstein mannequins in his private collection, about 1/3 of which he purchased from me. This collector’s knowledge of the Rootstein mannequins is so extensive, he is practically a Rootstein historian. I am sure that if Adel Rootstein was alive today and was opening a museum dedicated to her mannequins, she would hire him as head curator. Plus I think he has almost every Rootstein catalogue that was every printed as a result of being head of store planning for several retail chains back in the day.
Unfortunately this collector is super private and not on social media. I have begged him to join the Facebook group Vintage Mannequins where mannequin collectors from all over the world share photos and their expertise about mannequins. His depth of knowledge rivals that of anyone I have seen in that group.
I finally was able to convince him that his knowledge needed to be shared, especially with the decline of retail stores and along with that the disappearance of realistic mannequins from store window displays. So last year he and I collaborated to write a series of posts about Rootstein mannequins. I
nitially it was just to feature the mannequins in his collection. But we were having so much fun (it was a nice distraction for all the disasters in 2020) we continued to find all kinds of Rootstein related topics to write about. It is most likely now the most comprehensive online archive about Rootstein mannequins. All the posts are here.
The photo below is me in the warehouse of a hotel in Las Vegas where I acquired over 30 Rootstein Mannequins in February 2020, just a few weeks before COVID19 shut the city down. Whew!
The other day he and I had a conversation about which Rootstein mannequins are on every serious collectors wish list. Since 90% of the time people who collect Rootstein Mannequins prefer female mannequins, this list only contains the females. And only realistic faces since there is very little demand for abstract ones.
I will have another post on most popular male mannequins (that you Keith Dillion) and another post on the most popular females that are seated/reclining poses.
Note: Because of all the size of the photos I am including here, I am dividing this post into two parts. So if you don’t see your favorite girl here, she will most likely be on the next list.
Most of the mannequins that Rootstein produced were in the likeness of runway fashion models, however these 3 popular women were not runway models but entertainment celebrities. Each of them is a gay icon.
2 Joan Collins
3 Dianne Brill – if you don’t know who she is, this article will give you all the details.
Below are the most popular Rootstein African American mannequins. Unfortunately when they show up on the used market now they have often been re-painted to look like white women. This is called “white-washing” which you can read about here.
4 Billie Blair – people go crazy over her acrobatic poses. Below is the original Rootstein catalogue with the series she was from. Billie is the African American girl on the left side. But as I said earlier, most of the time when I have seen photos of her from Rootstein collectors, she is painted to look like the girls on the right.
5 Pat Cleveland– she is also a Gay Icon because she was a Halstonette and remained devoted to Halston long after he fell from grace. She and Billie Blair were models at the famous Battle of Versailles.
6 Donyale Luna (the first African American mannequin that Rootstein released)
In all the hundreds of Rootstein Mannequins I have recycled, I have only had ONE Joan Collins and ONE Cher and none of the other girls. That gives you an idea of how hard to find these girls are. You won’t find them in regular retail store closures, as these are either in the hands of private collectors or museums.
The only reason I acquired the Cher and Joan was the DeYoung museum in SF was getting rid of their realistic mannequins to bring in abstract mannequins. Their realistic mannequins had been sitting in their basement for years. They had acquired them from I. Magnin and Joseph Magnin stores when they closed.
Come back for the next set of most desired Rootstein’s and a few honorable mentions.