This a two-part project documenting the shopfront manikins of Old Nicosia. A follow-up article showcasing the manikins of North Nicosia follows. Both articles originally appeared in Arteri Magazine Issues #6 and #7.
Seedy and unwashed, Regenis Street is a microcosm of a city whose aesthetic values have forsaken it. These six ladies would in all likelihood have been snubbed by the manikins of Baku in the worst days of Soviet oppression for their poor fashion instincts and ill-fitting wigs. They are doomed to live out what time is left them staring out a patronless picture window at a similarly downtrodden grouping of a diva surrounded by four decapitated ladies-in-waiting.
Abducted from her native Pluto and set down in an Onasagorou vitrine, this elegant life form of indefinable age will feel forever left out of the commercial hustle and bustle of downtown Nicosia. She stands, bombarded by pastel atrocities and tube lighting, recalling the pleasant Plutonian summers when she was at least two inches taller than the shortest manikin in the shop.
The Brides of Onasagorou are a curious group whose obsolete gowns will never complete the picture of matrimonial bliss——and they seem to be aware of this fact, adding to their misery. In the foreground, we have a wistful princess in tiara. Behind her, a melancholy bridesmaid stares accusingly at the passer-by. Barely visible in the background is an utterly naked bride whose disgraced polyurethane flesh will never know the soft caress of chiffon.
This unfortunate creature was found abandoned like a stray cat next to the dumpsters of a dressmaker's shop on Aeschylou Street. The only intimation of any erstwhile glory is the polka dot sash wrapped provocatively about her rain-eaten waist, leaving her sex exposed to the elements. Defiant and nostalgic, she stares into the distance as if into the shop front where she once stood in a decent wig, arms draped seductively over a stud dummy's neck.
The grace and irreducible dignity with which this wigless young woman poses atop her folding chair in her painfully unfashionable outfit, surrounded by the most hideous styles imaginable, should be a ray of hope to the rest of the Onasagorou Street manikins. She is saying, "Laugh at me if you will, but I am better than you. One day soon I will be in Debenham's."
Too ashamed of her deformity to meet the passer-by's eye, this amputated waif's tortured existence is tripled by her disgraceful sack dress and a sign, visible from the inside as well, whose simple direction she cannot possibly satisfy. Behind her stand spools of démodé fabrics suggestive of a going-out-of-business sale. She waits patiently for that day, knowing that a dumpster or alley would be better than what she has now.
FOR PART TWO: THE MANIKINS OF NORTH NICOSIA