Wednesday, August 10, 2011

One of London's jewels - ROOTSTEIN Factory

Thursday, the 4th of August 2011 - 10:30 A.M meeting point : West Kensington Tube Station
Destination : 9 Beaumont Avenue , Rootstein Display Mannequins Factory, London

I had that spoooooky , terrible feeling when I first heard we were going to visit a mannequin factory - there is something about clowns and mannequins that just makes me feel a bit weird. I thought hmmmm it will be quite the experience I can't miss this even if I might get a bit freaked out . Well it just wasn't the case!

As soon as we entered the door of the factory we were greated by the man who would soon  explain us the whole production process of the mannequins and show us around. It was magnificent , so interesting to explore this building I couldn't believe what a wonderful morning this turned out to be!

He took us to every corner of the factory and let us take pictures of everything they had in storage. It was brilliant and we got some good information , which I think for a future career in the fashion industry, especially in the field of Visual Merchandising will prove to be very helpful.

'In a factory in west London lie the body parts of some of the most beautiful women - and men - of the the past half century. It’s home to the limbs of models Erin O’Connor, Kate Moss, Karen, Mulder, Dianne Brill, Yasmin Le Bon and Twiggy; a place where Joan Collins and Joanna Lumley have pouted and preened; and where singers Sandie Shaw and Elaine Paige rubbed cold shoulders with Mike D’Abo, lead vocalist from mod hipsters Manfred Mann. Even a swaggering Lord Litchfield could be found here. The factory is that of Adel Rootstein, mannequin maker and trendsetter, whose influence in visual merchandising takes in the Swinging Sixties and the power-dressing 1980s, changing, through her mannequins, the way we buy fashion.'

Just to get an idea of what exactly we learned there I will try to describe all the steps of the production from the sculpting of the human shape all the way to the packaging and shipping.

STEPS into making a mannequin:

1. Sculpting the shape after a human model (including expression, pose, curves of the body)

2. Mould making for future replicas

Mould making

Different poses

3. Pouring the gel into the mould and letting it dry out

Mould on the inside

4. Unscrewing the mould and taking the bodyparts out

5. Polishing the bodyparts and putting them together

polishing room

6. Painting Room is where the mannequins get their custom skin tone

7. Applying the ears, poneytails and other different parts which the customer has requested


8. Wig-Making

9. Make-up

Special Make-up at the customer's request

Barbie GLAM and Barbie Original

10. Packaging and Shipping

For more information on the Rootstein Factory visit their website at and check the showrooms in New York and London out!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Summer School at CSM

I have booked this course maaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnny mannnnnnnnnnny months before to make sure I will be able to attend and it will not be fully booked and I made the right choice. I was going through all their postgraduate courses for people like myself which have a business background and less of a creative, arty one I couldn't find anything for what to apply. (meaning I wasn't qualified enough to do that so I chose to book some summer courses to get a little taste of what Central Saint Martins has to offer).

The course I went for was the Visual Merchandising Course in Fashion - which lasted for a week from 11 PM to 5 PM . Our teacher, Julianne Lavery was amazing and fun and very supporting with all of our ideas and feedback. I was oooh so nervous as I didn't have any previous experience in the field and thought I would probably be the only one in the crowd , but it wasn't the case. LUCKILY :)

The info on the course you can find on the Central Saint Martins website , that is : - under Summer School - Fashion and Textile courses

This course will aim to teach you the fundamental principles, inspiration and techniques pertaining to Visual Merchandising. The key focus will be on fashion retail and it inextricable relationship to 'the Fashion brand'. Students will look at fashion retail from exterior - interior, from window design to internal shop floor layout and product merchandising. The course content will be delivered in the form of lectures, analysis , discussion and visits. Two major projects will be undertaken, the first will be an analytical written exercise, the second will be a creative concept. Both will harness the use of presentation techniques, which will be taught and practiced in class.

Julianne Lavery is an interiors stylist and dresser who works for a number of individual and corporate clients including Conran and events companies.

Materials to bring to first session:
  • folder to take notes
  • camera
  • laptop (suggested)
  • memory stick for presentations
  • mount board , scalpel, glue, magazine images and material samples would be required for the design project.

So basicly the course does exactly what it says - it is perfect for someone like me for instance that doesn't hve any previous experience in Visual Merchandising and wants to knoe what't it all about but in general terms. The concept is very complex and it takes around one to two years to start grasping everything that it envolves. It is not only window display and arranging tables and fixtures in the shop - it's so much more! 

So you can imagine that in one week the course is able to just point you in a direction of some sort and guide you in case you want to follow a career in this field. We were thought how to analyse a window display - from the styling techniques , to the window types, to discover the focal points and analyse the arrangements of the props, mannequins and merchandise in the window. 

We were introduced to the new fashion trends of 2011 and had to build up a little creative project with all materials we had in the class to embody one of the trends. My group chose the 'Over the Rainbow' trend . meaning very bright colours, oversized accessories, cartoon-like figures and prints.

The second and final project was to create a window display for one of the big retailers : either Selfridges or TOPSHOP and make a moodboard; all this while actually analysing the window and presenting it to the class. The key elements we had to keep in mind were the following : Why we chose the retailer, what trend we followed, what props we used, etc etc..

The teacher was once again very helpful with all materials we needed , she actually went and bought some more once we finished them and gave us some tips and tricks on what to focus on and what to keep in mind.

Two days we took some roadtrips , one to Oxford Circus to get a better idea of the Selfridges and TOPSHOP window displays , see what the retailer's style and concept is and how the visual merchandisers succeed to identify their displays with the brand image. The other one was the trip to the ROOTSTEIN factory for display mannequins , which is one of the world;s leading in the industry. Thats was a fun experience and will need a separate blog post.

If you want to have a sneak peek at what we managed to create in a week's time here are some of the photos taken of all the projects:

And our final projects looked something like this :