Valley of the Dolls

"Image" in Recline: An "Image" mannequin takes a break in Bob's office.

With only a week and some change in the run-up to the opening night bash for the California Biennial at the Pasadena Museum of California Art, my duties as curator of the fashion category are taking me to all kinds of new places, creatively and physically.
On this afternoon, it was in search of the 19 mannequins some of the designers would need for their installations.
First stop was my own storage unit to review four figures. In use, they dangle from the ceiling by a hook at the top of the head. And they are shocking: As in shocking Pismo pink and peacock blue. I rescued them years ago from Louis Vuitton in Beverly Hills, and hung on to them, despite dear Andy's protests otherwise. I used them long before he was even a glimmer in my eye, about a decade ago for an exhibition I curated on burlesque costumes for the Grand Central Art Center in O.C. And I knew they would have another life once again.
Once excavated from a unit I've definitely neglected for far too long (yikes, the rat droppings!), we stripped them of their bubble wrap.
Michael Schmidt, one of the 11 featured designers, was smitten.
We needed something different, something we could douse in flat black paint and sheath in the spectacularly sparkling costumes he created for Madonna, Cher, Debbie Harry and Fergie that he borrowed back for this four-month exhibition.

Before the black out.

Behind the driver's seat again and 30-odd minutes south into the uninspired City of Industry, we got a charge at Patina V. The company designs, paints and readies mannequins for everyone from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to Maxfield inside a cavernous, extensive campus.

Because this is a project on a publicly-funded budget, it was to the "graveyard" to cull the 15 forms needed. Bob was our guide. He was genial and patient as we put our small army of mannequins together.
As we toured the place on the way to the graveyard, really, a large room-like area crammed with rows of figures, it was nearly impossible to resist all the sights, from a wall covered with retro faces, carefully painted, to racks of dangling body parts.

At our final stop, we could have quickly, inexpensively, and thankfully enough "Image" figures to fit the bill. They would be resprayed a flat white–an elegant frame for the beautifully crafted clothes of Gr.Dano, Gregory Parkinson and Koi Suwannagate.
Who else is in the show? Stay tuned…

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