„A good friend of mine has gone bankrupt with his clothes shop,“ Cyrill Steiger explains to ArgoviaToday when his unusual hobby was born. „And then I bought a mannequin from him that he would have probably thrown away otherwise.“ Of course he wanted to do his colleague a favor with it, but – and Cyrill Steiger says this with a mischievous smile and a wink – this doll was strikingly similar to one of his past loves. A little later, a second and then a third mannequin was added. „At some point it became my passion to save them from destruction and to see them in terms of saving old cultural assets.“
Inspiration from a young age
Cyrill Steiger has fond memories of his paternal grandmother, who, as a sculptor, sometimes modeled life-sized people out of clay, from which bronze statues were ultimately cast. „The more I delved into the subject of mannequins, the more I was fascinated by them,“ he recalls.
His maternal aunt and grandmother were seamstresses. So he caught the flair of the French haute couture of the time early on – Dior, Yves or Saint Laurent. Cyrill Steiger is a fashion and advertising photographer by profession.
According to Steiger, old mannequins are always a reflection of the time in which they were produced and used in shops. One speaks of „utility art“, explains Cyrill Steiger and he wants to offer this cultural heritage, which would otherwise be forgotten, a place worthy of it. He refers to this place as a „pony yard,“ a life raft where they are meticulously cleaned, repaired when necessary, and makeup touched up. „If necessary, one can be cobbled together from two defective figures,“ he says. Because Cyrill Steiger knows his way around very well and can recognize the different manufacturers and their series, nothing is thrown away unnecessarily.
The styling as the end product
Hunters have their trophies stuffed and hang them on the wall. Groundhoppers enter the football stadiums they have visited in a list. „And what are you doing with the mannequins, Mr. Steiger?“ ArgoviaToday asked him. „Neither of them,“ he says, laughing. With him, the end product is a suitable styling, which can also change again and again. From this point of view, each mannequin is an overall work of art that is as appealing as possible. Cyrill Steiger obtains the clothes from second-hand shops and flea markets. There, a saleswoman looked at him questioningly: „Is that for the girlfriend?“ He replied: „Which do you mean? the ex? It’s gone – I sold it!“ What is meant, of course, is the doll.