The battle for mannequin diversity has become a hot topic of discussion over the last month, and Fenty has joined the battle.
As the plus-size Nike mannequin was unveiled in their London flagship store two weeks ago causing a major stir online, with Tanya Gold from The Telegraph arguing that plus-sized women should guess their body shape on clothing instead (??) – our attention is now laser-focused on how our clothes are being presented to us.
Despite negative comments from journalists, for most the Nike mannequin was a welcomed sight to customers who are and have often felt alienated by brands ‘ideal size’ for their clothes. After all this was in dire need, Topshop in 2017 received a whole facet of complaints after a mother of a 15-year-old girl (a large, impressionable demographic of Topshop’s consumers) tweeted the emaciated size of their storefront mannequins which made nationwide news.
Toyshop's mannequin in 2017 vs. the plus-size Nike mannequin unveiled this year.
And in 2007, a law was enacted in Spain forbidding the use of mannequins smaller than a size 6, as on average female mannequins in Europe wear a 4-6 dress size, a substantial deviation from the UK dress-size average of a 14-16.
So when Rihanna revealed her own non-standard size mannequins last week for her Fenty pop-up in New York, Twitter and Instagram understandably went mad.
The release of her eponymous brand Fenty, part of LVMH, was already widely anticipated, as her previous releases and designer collaborations have always received sincere support and admiration. Her work for Puma sold out after every release, and her lingerie brand and beauty brand, all under her now billion-dollar worth Fenty trademark, have become renowned across the board for breaking fashion and beauty traditions.
Rihanna has made it her imperative in the industry to dare to be different, showing the sex appeal and beauty of women who are pregnant, dark skinned, albino, short, tall, and plus-size. Fundamentally, Fenty (beauty, lingerie and fashion house) have been made with every woman in mind.
“You can have all the clothes in the world, but what does my body want to wear today?” – Rihanna
Integrated between ‘regular-sized’ mannequins was a fundamental a celebration of normal feminine bodily curves. Rounded bellies, hip-dips, non-surgically flat stomachs, wider abdomens, larger breasts and behinds - shapes you expect to see on your friends, family and women all over, yet not on those selling you clothes.
When speaking to Vogue for Fenty’s initial release last month, Rihanna explained that her collection was made because – “I ain’t no sample size no more girl”, and let’s face it, for most of us, neither are we. The fluctuations in her weight were the main inspiration for the shapes of the designs; it would make sense that the mannequins showed it worked for her body type, alongside others.
As Jameela Jamil told Paper Magazine:
“If you can’t design things that look good on people who are bigger than just a 0 or 2, you aren’t talented.”
Artwork by Luke Walwyn