Apotheosis: Ralph Pucci

The Revolutionary Mannequin Designer On Fashion’s Unsung Models

In his spacious West 18th Street loft-cum-factory, visionary mannequin creator Ralph Pucci muses on perfection and body image in filmmakers Nick Sweeney and Aaron Peasley’s new short. Over the past three decades since taking over his parent’s mannequin company, Pucci has elevated the figures from shop window clotheshorses into works of art through groundbreaking collaborations with the likes of illustrator Ruben Toledo, artists Kenny Scharf and Stephen Sprouse, and supermodels such as 60s icon Veruschka. “When I started making them in 1976, mannequins were very modest and predictable,” says Pucci. “I set out to introduce fun and fantasy.” Breaking the rigid conventions of the day, Pucci introduced action poses like diving or head-stands, ushered in a new streamlined aesthetic while working with French designer Andrée Putman, and presaged America’s 80s fitness obsession by introducing chiseled athletic figures inspired by Bruce Weber’s body-conscious photography. More recent collaborations have seen supermodel Christy Turlington recreated in elegant yoga poses, and Pucci invent the industry’s first high-end plus-size mannequin. However, Pucci admits his vision of beauty is not an attainable one. According to him, today’s “perfect” female mannequin is around six feet tall, a size two and has measurements of 32–22–32. “Like all art forms, mannequins reflect the times we live in,” says Pucci. "If you keep your eyes and ears open, that's how you'll know what's next.”

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