Couture in miniature

Couture in miniature

The team here at Half Size Mannequins wanted to share this amazing video with you as it illustrates how the professionals at Dior use half size mannequins in the workroom. They are showcasing a dress called “Mexique” from their Autumn/Winter collection of 1951 when Dior was at the vanguard of a fashion revolution, reproducing it in half size. We’ve already expounded the virtues of these little darlings on our website but this is so charming we couldn’t keep it to ourselves once we found it. It’s not too long so sit back, break out the popcorn and enjoy.
The opening sequence shows a close up of gold sequins on fabric, moving to a velvet bow before pulling back to reveal the original dress. Then it cuts to a technician “taping” a half size mannequin. This is a process that all pattern cutting students learn to do as the tape lines on the “body” correspond to similar markings on the flat paper pattern, thus maintaining the integrity of the design. The technician can clearly be seen drawing on draped muslin, creating the shape of the dress using the tape as a guide.
Once the design is drawn out, the shapes are cut and folded into shape before being place on the mannequin to check the fit. This outline is then used to plot the embellishments before being duplicated on the actual fabric. The embellishments are applied using traditional hand techniques while the fabric is stretched taut in a frame. Once complete the pieces are cut out and assembled onto the mannequin, pinned in place first, again to check the fit, just as it would be in full size.
The gown is then assembled by hand. It’s lovely to see the attention to detail and care taken in the construction of this diminutive garment. So much of today’s garments are constructed with no hand finishing these days, it’s a rare treat to see a professional using “long-handed” techniques; even the invisible zip is inserted by hand! The shot of the finished article being put on the mannequin and closed with this zip is just gorgeous.
Although the dress is small in scale they have still managed to convey the glamour and elegance of the full size article with aplomb. Obviously some of the beading detail has had to be reduced but this does not detract from the beauty of the whole in any way.
In the final shot she proudly pirouettes with the original in the background; sublime!