Stephen R Russomano
Mannequins only dress up, you thought? Some of the world’s largest retailers are putting make up and faux finishes on mannequins. Stephen R Russomano is preening and prepping them to participate in theatrical VM platforms for retailers like Bloomingdales,
I’m a firm believer that visual retail merchandising is impacted and inspired by today’s popular culture and the political climate. With that said, many retailers globally are incorporating themes in their displays such as films, national holidays, well known products, famous or trendy art, everyday activities, ordinary people and sports – elements that may not be related to fashion directly.
After the 2008 recession, the reuse or recycling of mannequins and props that certain stores already owned in their repertoire became widely used. As a freelance artist specialising in production painting of mannequins and props, such as makeup, faux and other decorative finishes, I suddenly found work updating and revamping older mannequin models when retailers had to curb down their
budget to buy new supply of mannequins. Working with visual directors, I will often get references and colour swatches that will pull a theme together. For example, a while back, I did makeups on realistic mannequins for Bloomingdales NYC with bright clear primary eyeshadow colours that would correspond with the story the window. As you all would know that Bloomingdales is known for creating heavy drama through their window schemes.
Another project I did for Bloomingdales NYC was a small mannequin of a child. The art direction was to paint his face that indicated a 5 o’clock shadow. It was part of one of their great holiday window last year, themed around the movie, “The Greatest Showman”.
For Saks 5th Ave, NYC holiday Christmas windows, I was commissioned to do makeup on some 20 mannequins – both male and female. The make-up had to match the theme on this window, “Winter Palace”, where models were expected to be sprayed with white. I did all of the makeups in tones of blue including the lips and cheek contours with crystalized eye lashes. They were completed with silvery white wigs, white on white beaded gowns and fur pieces on some. The overall look depicted a setting of a palace frozen in snow. The use of abstract mannequins, such as headless or egg heads with no features, can often feel cold and remote. Minimalism has its place but I believe everyone needs an identity they can relate to. Though the idea is to highlight the merchandises, a faceless form contributes nothing to the theme or the drama, therefore being just a drab object.
About Stephen R RussomanoArtist Stephen R Russomano’s experience spans well over a decade with tenures at Pucci Int., Goldsmith-Inc , Noa Brands, Manex, Bernstein Display, Saks 5th Avenue, Bloomingdales, TOP SHOP, Bergdorf Goodman and Frank Glover Productions to name a few. He has a BFA degree from the School of Visual Arts, NYC with focus on subjects like editorial illustration, leaning heavily toward fashion and cartooning as well as painting and sculpture.