Industrial Ladies : An Illustrated Lecture by Evan Michelson

An Illustrated Lecture by Evan Michelson, Obscura Antiques and Oddities, Morbid Anatomy Library Scholar in residence
Date: Thursday, September 11
Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $8 (Tickets here)
*** Offsite: Morbid Anatomy Museum (New Space) , 424 A 3rd Avenue (Corner of 7th Street and 3rd Avenue), 11215 Brooklyn, NY

Subway: 4th Av – 9th Street (R – F – G)

One hundred years ago, the art of the wax department store mannequin reached its zenith. These fragile, cumbersome, and extremely expensive industrial objects were ubiquitous fixtures on busy shopping streets in cities throughout the world. A few decades later, they were obsolete. In their heyday, wax women ruled supreme as the luxurious clotheshorses of the moment – industrial objects created with no philosophical, educational or artistic purpose beyond inspiring an impulsive yearning. Mundane and mesmerizing, these were objects that projected desire, and perfectly expressed the feminine ideals of their time.

The years have been both devastating and very kind to these department store veterans. Most of the wax ladies that did not melt, crack of gradually fall apart on their own were abandoned decades years ago, pushed aside for cheaper, more durable and more modern fixtures. The relatively few mannequins and busts that have survived, however, have taken on a life of their own; they are sought out and prized by ardent admirers who value them for their haunting, damaged beauty and extreme rarity. The prices for fine specimens have skyrocketed, making these lades highly coveted, singular examples of industrial design. For the lucky survivors, their afterlife is almost as exciting as their heyday.

For one collector, these ladies represent a personal puzzle: why would a person with mild automatonophobia surround herself with so many silent and eerie companions? How do they work their magic? How does age make these forever-young ladies ever-more beguiling?

Evan Michelson is an antiques dealer, lecturer, accumulator and aesthete; she tirelessly indulges a lifelong pursuit of all things obscure and melancholy. She currently lives in another place and time

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