INTERVIEW BY ANNA & MARIA SCIACCA
L’Idea Magazine: How important is the role of mannequins and the scenography set in which they are placed inside an expositive space of a window display or of an exhibition in order to arouse interest in the clothes they wear or to attract as a work of art?
Andrea Bonaveri: The mannequin is a fundamental part of an exhibition, both in a contest of a show or retail space. The secret of a good mannequin is to valorize the clothes is wearing, revealing itself out of time, performing different genres and styles without “being fashionable” and therefore without going out of style.
L’Idea Magazine: In the fifties, window displays with a subject were very fashionable, realistic mannequins that seemed to interact between them in a scenography staging; why is it that today it’s a rarity to see the “open display”?
Andrea Bonaveri: The open display is an effective theme but at the same time it’s very expensive because it requires scenography and elements, scenes, and accessories that build the story–the props. An exercise that not all brands choose to do, for matters of budget and creativity, betting instead on the shop windows with a theme only for the great holidays, like Christmas or Saint Valentin.
L’Idea Magazine: The vintage realistic mannequins in the shop windows sparkled by the lights in the evening gave a certain charm, people looked at them, dreamed in front of those windows, there was like a feeling, while today people are in a hurry; what do you think about that?
Andrea Bonaveri: Surely the relationship between consumer and retail space has changed; today it’s much faster in many aspects (production, sale, and use). Fashion has become more and more pervasive, purchasing behaviors have changed, and stylists have become more designers, creating whole worlds around clothes. The role of the mannequin has become more central in the tale, seeking the beauty in all its expressions.
L’Idea Magazine: How do you explain mannequins create such different emotions, fantasies, and stories, in movies like ”The afterhours” from the television series “Twilight Zone”, or in the film “Killer’s kiss” by Stanley Kubrick, and in the music with a song performed by Gino Paoli, “The mannequin”?
Andrea Bonaveri: The mannequin has origins in the history of art, being a direct emanation of sculptural processes that from the dawn of times; it represents the shape of the human body. In modernity, it has lost decorative tinsels and realism by manifesting itself in its metaphysical essence: a nature that makes the mannequin an object full of symbolic values that stimulate the imagination of cinema and the arts.
L’Idea Magazine: Were Bonaveri mannequins utilized in any film scenes?
Andrea Bonaveri: Bonaveri mannequins have appeared on the screen in many occasions: on movies, in documentaries, in tales about the fashion world. The mannequins Schläppi 2200 have been utilized in the film Ghostbusters in 2016. The figures are often details of a scenography, located inside the shop windows and boutiques. Our figures are therefore found in several contests, becoming always part of new stories.
L’Idea Magazine: How much has fashion changed since the years when Bonaveri started the activity in the mannequin manufacturing?
Andrea Bonaveri: Very much. From the Bonaveri foundation, almost 70 years, different styles and aesthetic canons have followed one another, have reflected and reflect the reference epoch. Mannequins also have changed through time, adapting themselves to the new ideals of beauty; they are designed for a constantly evolving sector. The figures are designed in each era to be contemporary but also timeless, reflecting the fashion and the change of aesthetic canons: at the beginning hyper-realistic mannequins prevailed with make-up and cotton wigs, through the time stylized and essential forms have established themselves.
L’Idea Magazine: With which characteristics are usually the mannequins requested in the various countries in Europe, Asia, and the Americas? Are there differences in the request of a type of product?
Andrea Bonaveri: The mannequin usually follows the trend of the fashion world, having a good level of standardization. The height can be dictated by the aesthetic choices, so there may be more or less tall figures, sometimes, for some markets; it’s also necessary to furnish some slightly shorter versions, for example, for the Asiatic markets (Japan in particular)—Bonaveri has collections of female mannequins variate from about 1 meter and 80 to 1 meter and 96 cm (included heel height of 10/12 cm).
L’Idea Magazine: Are still realistic mannequins with wigs and make-up requested, like those ones produced between the forties and seventies? If so, in which countries?
Andrea Bonaveri: In 2019 Bonaveri acquired Rootstein, historically the leader in the realistic mannequin, completing its range of products, re-elaborating the most important historic collections, and reaching a further segment of the market. The Bonaveri’s objective is to consolidate itself like a global company for the sector, in order to be able to offer to the fashion Maison a wide range of products, even made to measure, suitable to satisfy the most different needs.
L’Idea Magazine: The original vintage mannequins represented personages in the fifties and sixties are in some museum collection?
Andrea Bonaveri: The Rootstein collections are a cult object among enthusiasts, they look for them and collect them, and they’re exposed in the fashion costume galleries around the world.
L’Idea Magazine: It would be interesting to have in Italy a museum that tells the evolution of the mannequin and the history of fashion, a great expositive space with the different kinds of models that wear the clothes created by stylists and also the staging of some window displays. What is your opinion about a museum of the mannequin?
Andrea Bonaveri: It would be interesting to make known the history, the production, the passion and the care in the projection of the mannequin, showing it as a model in order to observe the change and the evolution of beauty and body standards.
L’Idea Magazine: Each model can wear all kinds of classic, sports, luxury fashion, or are requested particular characteristics for every collection of mannequins that wear from a scintillant evening dress to a prêt-à–porter?
Andrea Bonaveri: A good mannequin wears every garment: a virtuous characteristic that derives from manufacturing and aesthetic quality. It must be able to tell the story of the brand, to know how to communicate its values without specific characteristics.
L’Idea Magazine: With all this technology, do you think that there are possible fashion shows with mannequins on a catwalk, wearing the clothes made by stylists of high fashion?
Andrea Bonaveri: The question is not the technology but the narrative choice of a brand: there are Maison that present static version dresses. What counts is only the story you want to propose.
L’Idea Magazine: We’ve seen something similar in a video with Barbie dolls in a parade on a catwalk, they wore the clothes created by the designers…
Andrea Bonaveri: An original decision but it’s not a trend of the sector.
L’Idea Magazine: What does the selling price of a mannequin depend on? Which ones are the most expensive?
Andrea Bonaveri: The price is given by the manufacturing quality of the product, determined by the country systems (in Italy there are products of high craftsmanship). The price includes the protection of workers’ rights and the immaterial, aesthetic, and symbolic part that makes the mannequins emblematic products. The price is established by the material, the finishes, the coatings, and the colors.
L’Idea Magazine: In the production of mannequins as an artisanal and technologic product, is a combination of both possible?
Andrea Bonaveri: Some cutting-edge processes and techniques are already in place: the printing in 3D and the body scanning take already place as the progress of industry and manufacturing.
L’Idea Magazine: Where do you find inspiration in designing and personalizing a face and poses for your mannequins?
Andrea Bonaveri: We follow a purely artistic research path inside the Bonaveri sculpture atelier, in a relationship between operation and sensibility.
L’Idea Magazine: What is the concept of Made in Italy in the realization of Bonaveri mannequins?
Andrea Bonaveri: We were born in 1950 in the province of Ferrara and since then we think, we produce and we work in Italy to offer products of quality and our experience.
L’Idea Magazine: Bonaveri mannequins show purity and elegance, with which materials are they realized?
Andrea Bonaveri: Mannequins can be in fiberglass or polystyrene, but Bonaveri has introduced Bplast (natural plastic material biodegradable generated from renewable sources, made for 72% from sugar cane derivatives) to bring sustainability to the production chain. Fabric coverings of all kinds and chromatic finishes personalize the mannequin, by embellishing it. We have also developed Bpaint, the first varnish with solvents of vegetable origin, derived from orange peel to guarantee sustainability.
L’Idea Magazine: For their harmonious shapes is there also an ideal of classicism?
Andrea Bonaveri: Each mannequin derives from the classic sculpture: each figure is always an artistic interpretation.
L’Idea Magazine: It takes more work to make men or women mannequins?
Andrea Bonaveri: Indifferent.
L’Idea Magazine: Among the various collections you’ve also realized very beautiful mannequins with eyelashes in the presentation of Zara installation, collection Schläppi 2200 Spring/Summer 2012. Did they want to express something with these features?
Andrea Bonaveri: Make-up allows for expanding the expressive abilities of mannequins, giving them new and multiple levels of personality
L’Idea Magazine: Bonaveri has acquired the Rootstein brand, presenting the restyling of the model series Twiggy; what was this particular work experience? Was it like rediscovering the cheerfulness and the freedom that characterized the swinging London fashion?
Andrea Bonaveri: With Rootstein we dealt with the theme of the realistic mannequin for the first time. We’ve collected the spirit of an era in those forms and aesthetic attributes, bringing it back to the present, and interpreting it with our contemporary sensibility.
L’Idea Magazine: Does each collection of Bonaveri mannequins refer to a subject or theme?
Andrea Bonaveri: No.
L’Idea Magazine: Is there any funny episode in working with the mannequins?
Andrea Bonaveri: Rather than funny episodes we can talk of projects that have involved us more and we’ve loved making. For example, the exhibition “Bonaveri, a fan of Pucci” on June 2018. It was an exhibition realized together with Emilio Pucci Maison at Pucci Palace in Florence, to tell through the mannequin and the set-ups of the story of two companies, Bonaveri and Emilio Pucci, with a common heritage. It was a wonderful project, a challenge that has seen us called to realize mannequins like works of art. A success that paid off all our efforts.
L’Idea Magazine: In a video on YouTube we find very fascinating the ambiance of the showroom in Milan with the mannequins positioned on the steps of a stage through plays of lights and reflectors; can you talk us about it?
Andrea Bonaveri: BonaveriMilano was thought to be the home of mannequins and to express the values and characteristics of our way of working in one place. The set-ups are the desire to express the experience to dialogue with our customers on the basis of aesthetic messages.
L’Idea Magazine: What is the personality of Bonaveri mannequins and what type of woman do they represent?
Andrea Bonaveri: The mannequin doesn’t represent a kind of woman but her sublimation: it detaches itself from reality to interpret the characteristics, aspirations, postures, and gestures of a female archetype.
L’Idea Magazine: Which is the country where Bonaveri mannequins are more requested and where is Italian fashion very popular?
Andrea Bonaveri: Where there is fashion of quality, there are Bonaveri mannequins.
L’Idea Magazine: The book “Mannequins a history of creativity, fashion & art” is very beautiful. Will Bonaveri publish other books on the subject?
Andrea Bonaveri: Publicity tells the story of attributes, of the meanings of our collections, giving tangible experience to immaterial messages. This book has been published on the occasion of the sixty years of the company and it’s for us a flagship. Who knows, maybe there will be a follow-up, more based on the numerous creative projects that we’ve developed after the publication. There have been so many and all of great value.
L’Idea Magazine: In Italy will Bonaveri mannequins be present in some exhibitions in towns like Milan, Turin, Florence, Rome…
Andrea Bonaveri: Continuously. The mannequins are exposed and accompany the exhibitions in museums of costume, of fashion, and in temporary exhibitions.
L’Idea Magazine: Which are your next projects and events of fashion? Can you anticipate some news?
Andrea Bonaveri: The BonaveriMilano showroom in the Milanese city will host “La Gentilezza della Carta. La sostenibilità è bellezza” from the month of June. It’s an exposition that gathers 18 dresses of paper by Caterina Crepax. The sculpture dresses are characterized by motifs that reproduce the patterns of the fabrics that come from the textile design archive of the Foundation Fashion Research Italy (F.FRI) This Foundation was founded in 2015 by the Cavalier Alberto Masotti–President of the brand La Perla–to support the sectors of fashion and design Made in Italy through consultancy and training activities. The clothes are exposed on renewable and biodegradable mannequins signed Bonaveri.
Thank you for this interview and the precious collaboration of Marzia Ricchieri, Business Development Manager and Francesca Grillo PR Assistant Press Office Bonaveri.