Byline: Mark Tosh

NEW YORK — There’s a new face and figure at Saks Fifth Avenue — Frannie, the specialty retailer’s first custom-made mannequin in more than 20 years.
She made her debut at Saks in The Mall at Short Hills last November and was recently cloned to the flagship store here, where about 250 Frannies grace the windows and designer areas. Now Saks plans to populate all of its full-line stores with Frannies.
Saks’ last signature mannequin was “Frances,” a classic beauty modeled after Grace Kelly. Frannie also has classic beauty features, but her body is slimmer, with more muscle tone in the arms and legs, and she assumes more athletic poses.
With Frannie, Saks no longer just features mannequins that are replicas of famous runway models.
“The vision of ideal beauty has evolved, and we needed to modernize,” said William J. Viets, vice president of visual merchandising at Saks.
“I wanted to marry the classical poses of couture illustrations with the contemporary images you see in our ads and the serious, active lifestyles our customers really lead.” Viets added that he has modeled Frannie on a woman who cares about her body as much as her clothes.
A “realistic” version that has a wig and contemporary makeup will be used to model designer sportswear and eveningwear collections. A second “stylized” version with sculptured hairstyles will only be used for eveningwear designed by Oscar de la Renta, Givenchy and Bill Blass, among others.
Frannie won’t be seen in the bridge or contemporary sportswear departments, Saks said. Teaming up with Viets to create the new mannequin were portrait sculptor Cyril Heck and display artist Gene Moore, who is best known for designing the window displays at Tiffany’s. The new mannequins, which are constructed in polyurethane, were produced by Hindsgaul Mannequins Worldwide in Denmark. They cost Saks about $750 apiece. In its smaller stores, Saks uses only 15 to 40 of the new mannequins.
James Damian, the former president of Hindsgaul’s U.S. subsidiary, also took part in the project.

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