MONSIEUR: The Making of the Man

22nd Jan 2018

Renowned for producing dynamic VM equipment of premium quality and design, Proportion London has developed MONSIEUR, a distinctive new male mannequin collection which takes influence from the world of art and sculpture. Creative Director, Tanya Reynolds talks here about the creation process.

It is hard to describe the mix of excitement and anxiety the development of a new collection brings. With the exhilaration of seeing a clay come to life before your eyes and fuelled by the many and varied sources of inspiration that led you to this point – the process is often excruciating. Like giving birth, the strange and protracted gestation of a master figure distracts and consumes you, as you ponder and debate its every feature in minute detail; and so, it was with Monsieur. But much like childbirth, the moment you see the first figure popped fresh out of the mould, recognition and relief are tantamount. Of course, that was how he would look – you never doubted it for one moment!

 

Over the months before we began the collection, I had been increasingly taken with the sculptural work of Alberto Giacometti and Henry Moore. The retrospective exhibition of Giacometti at London’s Tate Gallery was a joy to attend. Not only was I thrilled to see so many pieces of his work in one place, but also delighted at the visual presentation of the work. The disciplined use of the rooms and placement of the figures, spacing the various natural coloured artworks so careful and offsetting against a spare white background made the work standout even more.

Around the same time, I attended the first Burberry “Makers House” Show, which featured some pieces by the talented British artist, Henry Moore. Astounded to see this iconic sculptor’s work in a fashion exhibition (which by the way was perfect in every sense), I was so taken with the up-close view of the pieces that I stayed two hours – and went back the next day! The beautifully finished plasters showed the hand of the sculptor so clearly – the richly built up colour and an etched surface where the pieces had been sealed with shellac were incredible; I couldn’t get the images out of my mind. 

 

Back at the factory, the first pieces of the MONSIEUR collection were being sampled by the production team. I wondered if we could replicate the worked plaster finish in fibreglass and was delighted when our Development Manager agreed to try. We experimented for some weeks, making recipes with earthy pigments and layering up different combinations of fibreglass and resin until we perfected the look. We brought the deeply scratched and patinaed surface to life by buffing the figures with natural beeswax (often used to finish our wooden arms). On reflection, the look we achieved did not turn out to be like a Moore plaster at all; but this is often the way with material trials, where a happy accident can create something truly original.

 

Wanting to communicate the beautifully tactile nature of the MONSIEUR collection, we layered the pre-sculpt concept sketches over detailed photographic imagery, to create visuals for the collection that we feel give a rare insight into the creation process. For me, they retain the beauty and rawness we envisaged at the start.

 

The outcome of the range is exactly what I imagined, right down to the brochure and campaign images, but I guess if I’m honest, I love and loathe the creation process of our collections in equal parts. The progression from concept to conclusion can sometimes feel endless. But, no matter how painful the process, I always feel privileged and have great respect for the talented people who form our creative team and make the development process even possible. There is nothing like the joy of working alongside creative people, and that I am happy to say, is very much the case at Proportion London.

Tanya Reynolds

Creative Director

For more information about the MONSIEUR collection

or any of our other products or services,

contact our Sales Team on:

info@proportion.london

+44(0)207 749 1300