As a mannequin recycler, one of my favorite brands to resell is Rootstein. In the photo above I am so excited about the collection of Rootstein mannequins behind me that I acquired from a Macy’s store in 2017.

Rootstein mannequins are the perfect blend of artistry and engineering. Fewer retailer are displaying them now, but they remain a favorite of mannequin collectors.

The company is known for their superior sculpting techniques. Their mannequins have a hyper-realism with belly buttons and even back spine indentations.

And they were the first mannequin company to create mannequins in the likeness of supermodels and celebrities. Here is Joan Collins who they sculpted just before her “Dynasty” days.

Adel Rootstein, the founder of the company, was just as exacting about the construction of her mannequins as she was about the artistry.

She insisted her mannequins did not weigh more than 25 pounds. Prior to that mannequins, (often made of wax) could weigh upwards of 100 pounds.

Adel also wanted her mannequins to be engineered in a way so that the limbs detached easily so that dressing/undressing the mannequins would not be cumbersome. This made it easier to change the window displays more frequently.

The evolution of mannequins, and the role of Rootstein in particular, is an important part of retail history.

Mannequins are not only “silent salespeople” for clothes BUT for showcasing what is happening culturally/socially during a particular moment in time.

For example in the 1940’s and 1950’s- a time of sexual repression in the US- American companies sanded the nipples off of mannequins, which were deemed too overtly sexual.

But during the fitness crazed 1980’s, nipples reappeared on mannequins. And clothing was more body hugging and low cut. 

These mannequin “factoids” are what I will sprinkle throughout this upcoming series of posts about Rootstein Mannequins. All of this information is a collaboration between myself and a mannequin historian who I will profile in the next post.   

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