Creating a Custom Mannequin for Your Movie Costume

Consider a custom mannequin to display your screen used costumes and wardrobe

We’ve heard it many times before “Why get a custom body form? Can’t I just use a clothing store mannequin?”

We’re the go-to source for purpose-built body forms and custom mannequins made to fit and support a specific piece of movie wardrobe. Although it may seem like a very simple thing, it turns out that no one is really shaped like a standard store mannequin… not even celebrities! (gasp!) Beyond details like size and fit, other questions that are often overlooked are, “how does the actor get into the costume?” and “do the materials of this costume present any challenges or need special care?” It turns out, mannequins don’t have a lot of functions that humans do. They are not flexible, can’t adjust their balance or exhale to provide that little bit of wiggle room to get zippers closed. This why we always recommend going with a custom mannequin or display form that firs your exact garment, especially when it’s a valuable TV or Film worn costume.

With a custom body form we are able to identify each project’s individual challenges and come up with ways to work around them. With a piece like Chris Evans’ costume from Captain America: The First Avenger, we saw several of these issues. First was fit – the actor was quite broad across the chest and shoulders, but with a narrow waist. A custom body was made to match the costume and give it the right fit. The costume was also made up of several pieces layer on top of each other, including some that limited the ability for the mannequin to break down along normal lines for dressing. Additionally, because of those layers, we were unable to use either of the standard support posts that a retail mannequin comes with (heel and calf). Last up, Cap’s signature shield also added a decent amount of weight to his arm and the pose the client was after was not exactly something you would see in a store window! By creating a custom body form we were able to create a dynamic and heroic pose that supported all of the costume pieces and allowed us to safely dress the mannequin. We also fabricated a support post that snuck under the jacket to attach to the lower back of the figure.

 For costumes like the Pink Power Ranger and Bella from Twilight, the challenges came from the sizes of the actresses, both are very petite both in size and stature. Standard retail mannequins are generally very tall and curvy, and if you happened to be able to fit their costumes on to one of these, you would end up putting stress on the costumes which can cause issues in the long run.

For the our display of the original Pyramid Head Costume from Silent Hill, we had the giant, heavy head to support with the added challenge of working with aging foam latex appliances. Our movie prop restoration experience allowed us to help preserve those and get them looking right on the body. For Warwick Davis’ original movie costume from Leprechaun, the actor’s unique body proportions and size made a custom form critical to getting that costume well supported and beautifully displayed. And the giant chicken with Tums tablet display base… well that was a whole other story!

 We’re the go-to source for custom mannequins and challenging movie costume displays, so don’t hesitate to drop us a line with your challenge!

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Want to learn more about Rick Baker’s 40-plus-year journey as a special makeup effects artist?

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