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VM profile: Cofrad

Paris-based mannequin supplier Cofrad is distinctive in having a creative director with a sales background. Project and creative director Marc Lacroix joined the family-owned business when it was an agent for international premium-brand mannequin suppliers, offering Bonveri and Rootstein collections in France.

Over time Cofrad began to offer its own bespoke mannequin parts, later purchasing the Patina-V brand in 2007. Manufactured in California, Patina V is an extensive collection which, by changing heads, works well in department store or multi-brand retail spaces.

Cofrad is also the sole European agent for the Pucci brand, manufactured by Ralph Pucci International in New York.

Cofrad also offers a bespoke service and is keen to promote its own expertise. Lacroix says, for example, that mannequins cannot usually adopt extreme poses because that does not help to make garments look appealing. It also increases the difficulty in dressing - which today is often accomplished by sales staff, rather than VM professionals. “The garment always needs to be pinned to look its best, and that needs VM expertise; to steam; to pin,” says Lacroix.

Cofrad offers a realistic representation of the relaxed poses in which we all stand today. This perception lends the mannequins a lifelike feel, which enhances merchandise. In the company’s showroom they are shown in navy blue - a colour unlikely to be used in a retail situation, but one which accentuates the form, especially given the finish: a slight sheen which does not call attention to itself. “We are here to support the fashion,” says Lacroix.

Unlike ‘Action Man’ figures, Cofrad’s mannequins, like the one on the left here, appear to be caught casually in mid-stride. “You don’t see the mannequin: the mannequin is invisible. The mannequins are there to support the fashion, and not the opposite,” says Lacroix.

Cofrad offers two to three collections a year. Their creation is a six-month process and the company is cautious in the volumes it produces. Lacroix speaks of the distortion that occurs when mannequin moulds are reused beyond their life-span, and how they become distorted, frequently producing legs that become unattractively thicker. He says Cofrad uses glass-fibre because the production volumes can be smaller, although polystyrene can be more robust. “It looks simple, easy, but it’s not,” he says.

“We do not make soldiers in a window, with ironed sleeves. We are not like that. The mannequin is there to reflect the human being,” says Lacroix.