In the last months, the Mannequin Challenge took the Internet by storm. The trend of recording viral videos of groups of motionless, frozen in action, people started from a High School in Florida at the end of October, to make its way to the world of celebrities and even politicians.
With the best political participation so far, coming from the morning of Election Day, when Hillary Clinton and her team posted a still video of the cabin of the campaign plane, featuring Jon Bon Jovi and Bill Clinton. Two days later, the Mannequin Challenge moved to the White House, when the Cleveland Cavaliers, the 2016’s NBA champions, created a viral video featuring the First Lady, Michelle Obama.
And in between, Ivanka Trump celebrated the opening of her new office, on the day after her father, Donald Trump, became the 45th president of the United States, by having her and her staffers recorded motionless.
And today when the hashtag #manequinchallenge produces tens of thousands results at social media, let us take a look at the word mannequin.
The word entered the English language circa 15th century, through the French mannequin, which derived from the Dutch manneken, ‘little man.’ The word was initially used to literally refer to little dwarf men along with to a small representation or statue of a human figure, and with the spelling of manikin.
At that time, miniature mannequins were used to demonstrate fashions for customers, until the mid 18th century when the full-scale figures, made out of wicker, came out.
The meaning of a person who presents clothes, a model, appeared in parallel with the modern spelling of the word, first recorded in the 1893 February issue of The Decatur Review: “The ‘mannequin’ of the stage is moveable; the ladies in the boxes and the gentlemen in the stalls can criticise the dress from every point of view.”
A quote from the 1906 August issue of the British weekly tabloid magazine The Bystander describes the desired profile and acceptable pitfalls of female models at the time:“A mannequin is a good-looking, admirably formed young lady, whose mission is to dress herself in her employer’s latest “creations,” and to impart to them the grace which only perfect forms can give. Her grammar may be bad, and her temper worse, but she must have the chic the Parisienne possesses, no matter whether she hails from the aristocratic Faubourg St. Germain or from the Faubourg Montmartre.”
And mannequining was a serious business at the time, as reported by the head of a mannequin school to the Sunday Express in 1927.
The artificial model figures to display clothing, the dummies, as we know them today, were firstly defined in 1939, in Mary Brooks Picken’s The language of fashion: a dictionary and digest of fabric, sewing, and dress as: “Mannequin.., model of human figure for display of garments, hats, furs, etc. ”
Naturally, the modern technology revolution results in the first prototypes of programmed, digitally controlled mannequins to serve the retail, along with usages in the medical, military, automotive and etc. industries.