We spent some time and chatted with Stefan Parsons, Nude mannequin development and design manager.
What is your background, how did you end up doing this job at Nude?
For eight years before my role at Nude, I was part of the Zara display team and I’ve also been lucky enough to work for some amazing brands throughout my career, like Alexander McQueen, Dior and Stella McCartney. sfd needed someone who knew mannequins, the challenges that display teams face when using them and who had new ideas of how to fix them. And here I am!
How do you come up with new designs, what is your research and design process?
It’s a different process for Nude’s mannequin ranges and our bespoke service. For the ranges, I have a brain full of ideas that I’ve been storing up since my days in windows. I look at how stores are using mannequins and how ours can fit into these stores and with those ideas I sketch and develop the prototypes. It’s important to me – from my days dressing them – that our mannequins are very VM and window dresser friendly.
With bespoke mannequins, the starting point is the brand and their vision. Searching through magazine editorials and fashion campaigns we find poses that suit the ideas and start to build the concept. All mannequins are different styles and sizes but mannequins need personality; this comes from the brand that we are working. At the sketching stage, every inch of the mannequin is considered. The possibilities are endless so every project is different and often changes at each stage, but it is exciting to see it develop.
What are the challenges that face you in the industry today?
The biggest challenge is time. So much time goes into a mannequin, designing, sculpting, perfecting and producing it. We’re working on a new way of speeding up this process; it’s a very exciting concept you’ll see next year at our Euroshop stand.
Has there been a big change in what customers want and expect since you started?
Every brand we work with is so different so there’s not really a pattern. We’re lucky enough to have clients that don’t want to look like their peers, so there is always something new to work on.
What can we expect from the new range, Charlotte & Fitz?
Charlotte & Fitz is my take on current mannequin trends – abstract with elongated features in relaxed poses and a strong, editorial image. Looking at current trends to repeat the same pose in army formations is something we have thought about, but equally both collections group together or stand alone very easily to create strong displays.
These mannequins are so easy to dress. It was something that was for years a bugbear of mine so ease of use had to be as important as the looks with Charlotte & Fitz. With fashion getting faster they have to be changed more frequently, we know that, and no one will be fighting to get a pair of skinny jeans on these mannequins. I designed the mannequins I always wanted to work with.
What is the most unusual request you have had for a bespoke mannequin?
There’s been a few unusual briefs; I like to be challenged and I constantly am. The most recent project I have worked on is Missguided who are going to have mannequins like I haven’t seen before. Obviously I can’t say too much at the moment, but watch this space.
What would you love to achieve? When does a mannequin development & design manager know he’s made it?
I’ve been with Nude for 18 months and I’ve had my first mannequin collection launch in Bloomingdales 5th Avenue, designed the new female mannequins for Next and overseen the development for Missguided’s very big range for their first high street store – is it big-headed I already feel like I’ve made it?
What would I love to achieve? To be honest, I’m only just getting started. We have some very exciting things happening over the next few months and each project brings something new and adds a new string to Nude’s bow. I’ll get back to you on that one, there’s always something else to achieve just around the corner.