Tuesday, February 10, 2009

If you ever need a human form...

So our oldest daughter turns 11 tomorrow, and this year's gift was really easy to decide. A "Project Runway" devotee, the girl spends half her life sketching clothes onto scraps of paper and the other half digging fabric scraps up so she can drape them on her American Girl dolls. She's already a decent sewer and is enrolled in some more classes right now, so we thought - Dress Form! Just as on PR where the designers are draping and pinning, we wanted her to have her own mini-mannequin upon which to practice her art.

Her sewing teacher offered to track down an adjustable dress form that would match her size which, in Britney Spears-speak, is Not A Girl Not Yet a Woman. Sounded great - til she mentioned that it would cost $250.

Which is why my mother, visiting from NY, and I ended up in an industrial park in Oakland last Saturday afternoon, looking for the door with a mannequin head on it. It was the showroom of Mannequin Madness, which sells and rents used dress forms and mannequins. The owner, Judi Henderson-Townsend, could not have been nicer as she showed us around a big room filled with naked plastic bodies of both sexes and with varying levels of detail. She's very proud that she has rescued these objects from landfills and now rents them out for parties, and sells them to stores and to artists.

In short order we found "Chloe," a non-adjustable dress form that's within the ballpark of our daughter's size - and for $80, Chloe's just fine for the time being. Mom and I wheeled her through the deserted parking lot trying to look casual, until my mother finally said "I've never seen so many scrotums in my life" and then we fell over laughing.

We bundled Chloe up in a blanket to save my little old lady neighbor Ceil from a heart attack; we didn't want her to think we'd offed someone as we carried the body inside. And when we presented her as an early gift to the birthday girl on Sunday, along with some colorful fabric remnants for draping, her happy scream was completely worth the effort. Every time I look in her room Chloe is wearing something completely different, made with the same three pieces of fabric.

So if you are looking for an up-and-coming designer to make you a dress, and you are 5"1 or shorter with a AA cup size, gimme a call, I know someone for you.

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