Collecting Antique Mannequins


If you have a love for antique clothing, then an antique mannequin has been, or is, on your wish list!  Collecting antique mannequins and dress forms is a challenging but fun hobby! In this post I’m sharing a few of our latest antique mannequin, or dress form, finds.





I am always smitten with Victorian mannequins, and always, always look for them on buying trips.  Sadly, most of them are in quite a state, it’s always a party at FrenchGardenHouse when we find a few that have survived the centuries!


Dress-forms are easier to find. The main difference between a mannequin and dressform is that mannequins have legs, and sometimes arms. They were used a shop displays. Dress-forms are just a body, usually on a metal or wood stand, used by seamstresses.


collecting antique mannequin

This mannequin has seen better days, but still rare to find!




Some believe that mannequins were copied after the fifteenth century miniature fashion dolls – Milliner’s Mannequins. The dolls were dressed in expensive fashions made from sumptuous fabrics, and sent along to noble clients,  The noble or wealthy client could then “see” what a certain gown or suit would look like, and order real life size clothing for themselves.


In 1835,  a Parisian ironmonger developed a wire work mannequin, or dress-form, but it wasn’t until the mid 1800’s that the first dressmaker’s mannequins were made.




Alexis Lavigne, a French tailor and inventor established the first fashion school in the world in France in 1841. In 1847 he invented the soft metric tape measure, and developed tailor’s dummies. He exhibited his first fashion Bust Mannequin in the International Exhibition.




Collecting Antique Mannequins





He opened a mannequin house in France in the 1850’s. Later he collaborated with Fred Stockman to develop mannequins with heads, arms and legs from wax.











  1. an artist’s, tailor’s or dressmaker’s lay figure.
  2. a form representing the human figure used especially for displaying clothes.









Antique Mannequins add so much elegance and style to your decor. They make a statement in every room!  This office designed by Sue Humphreys shows how a small dress-form can add a decorative and fun element.







In my own office at FrenchGardenHouse, my mannequins are always here to keep me company.  I call them my “muses”…






In our living room, my very favorite French mannequins hold court.  I often dress them with antique jewelry, or celebratory ribbons. Because #antiqueswanttohavefun.  {Or…as my children say #ourMomisalittlecrazy}




collecting antique mannequins




collecting antique mannequins




A larger version sits in the hallway. Often dressed in an antique collar, he stands guard by the umbrellas and coats.







Even our FrenchGardenHouse shipping department has vintage dress forms!






Our master bedroom/bathroom has one too!



collecting cream mannequins




Finally, we use our antique and vintage mannequins and dress forms here at the shop to display antique jewelry.  They make great photo props too.





Antique mannequins and dress forms add flair and a certain French je ne sais quoi to your home decor.  Obviously I can’t keep all of them to myself…that wouldn’t be nice.



Here are a few of the latest ones we’ve found for you!



collecting antique mannequins






collecting antique mannequins












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