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VM inspiration: Radio Days vintage mannequins

Radio Days has been established in London’s Lower Marsh for 25 years, selling vintage clothing, props, vintage radios, packaging and a host of other items. It is easy to spend hours there, and for VM practitioners there is added appeal in the vintage mannequins used to display the merchandise.

Just lovely with her cheerful, open countenance, this 1930s lady makes costume jewellery look almost regal.

This example is definitely a product the 1930s, with her shingled-hair and arched eyebrows. The slightly downcast look gives her a modest, almost demure expression, suggesting she might be helping to retail merchandise for a slightly older customer.

Redolent of the late 1930s or early 1940s, this confident chap sports an open-necked shirt and a casual blazer. Preserving popular men’s facial hair fashions for the period, the clipped moustache and sweptback hair might remind us of Butlin’s Redcoats, but also faintly of Hitler, considered by some an attractive man in his day.

This rather-grey polystyrene 1950s lady looks tastefully middle class in her black velvet hat. Positioned in front of a slightly wistful, almost Asian, 1920s mannequin in a furry cloche, shows how every idealised feature changed in 30 years. The lips have become fuller, and less bee-stung; the eyes are lidded; the cheekbones more prominent; but the nose remains a tip-tilted sameness.

Recording just how popular the 1950s Marilyn Monroe-look was - with blonde hair, a full bust, and a willowy waist - this mannequin bust is every inch the sweater girl. Her colleague on the right, with a small neat head - perfect for a cloche hat- and slim, sloping shoulders is the 1920s female ideal. With her bee-stung dark red lips, hers was the first generation to wear cosmetics conspicuously.

An inexpensive polystyrene head with a flat, painted-on face, oversized cute eyes and stylizsd nose, reminds us of  the new boutiques of the 1960s.

This formal male mannequin must have an interesting background. Resembling a Magritte image rendered in 3-D, his face is professionally modeled, possibly from around the 1950s judging by the narrow suit lapels. His very pink complexion suggests his skin has been repainted at some point. Skin tone is more compelling with a considerable amount of green in it to ‘quieten’ the pink. Similarly, his rather too-pink lips are perhaps a touch too lipstick-like.

This sultry jezebel smoulders under a 1970s broad-brimmed hat. With her almost rectangular eyes suggesting fashionably high cheekbones, and still with the tip-tilted nose (some desirable features don’t change), she sports fine eyebrows, false eyelashes and the fashionable cupid’s bow dark lip. Very glamorous, slightly American and very cool, she would have helped sell fashionable merchandise.

Of her colleague there is not much to be said: green seems an unusual choice for a mannequin and but may have been selected for a specific window scheme as it is too memorable to be used repeatedly. I suspect she is a less fashionable, less expensive example of near age to her colleague. In the straw boater, she remains forever in the shade of her sophisticated companion.

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