Friday, 19 August 2011

Hanoi mannequins for dummies

The mannequins of Hanoi are a ragtag bunch with a considerably higher percentage of deformities than the rest of the population. They are also terrifying.

You have the bald ones:

(Nobody wants to think about cancer while clothes shopping, do they?)

You have the amputees:

Or, in this case a whole family of amputees!

Then there are the she-mannequins. My, what a lovely strong jawline this lady on the right has here:


This one's not just any old man in drag. It's clearly Dean Pelton from Community:

Incidentally, there are other celebrity mannequins too. Like Fergie:

And Kevin Bacon:

He hasn't aged a bit.

There are also zombie mannequins. They look like they were once normal mannequins, much like you and me, but now they WANT TO EAT YOUR BRAINS:


They do not make me WANT TO BUY YOUR CLOTHES.

Even more alarming than the zombies are the freaky child mannequins.

Their necks are disproportionately large, their arms disproportionately short, and their facial expressions disproportionately off-putting:

See, I told you!

This one is doing Beseeching: 

"Help me, please, I can't reach my tiny arms to my mouth."

This one is doing Constipated: 

This one is doing Yo Homey Whassup:

And this one is just doing My Head In:

The stuff of nightmares, that is.

Since a mannequin's sole function is to make clothes look good, and since Hanoian mannequins do exactly the opposite, it's kind of baffling why they exist.

It's also baffling why there are no Vietnamese-looking mannequins. Weirdly there are more mannequins "of colour" here than you'd likely see anywhere else, despite there being next to no black people:

I was also baffled why so many mannequins have embarrassingly left their flies open:

Until I realised the reason why: the Vietnamese-sized jeans are so small that they don't actually do up on a standard-sized dummy. The mannequins are actually TOO FAT for Vietnam. They're not alone.

For answers to all my mannequin-related questions, I went to - where else - mannequin street.

It's an alarming place, where men sit among mounds: 

And boys will be boys:

It was a gruesome place:

Where I witnessed unspeakable horrors:

The freaky child mannequins, which I assumed were cast-offs from a bygone era of freakiness were actually for sale brand new here: 

And, terrifyingly, it seems they'll soon be joined by a new breed of alien child mannequin:

It also turns out you definitely can get Asian mannequins:

But they're few and far between even on mannequin street (which is not entirely dissimilar to what I imagine the inside of the Playboy mansion looks like):

Surrounded by these pert-bosomed specimens, in possession of lustrous locks and all their limbs, it was obvious that there are plenty of attractive, able-bodied mannequins in Hanoi: the new ones. The ones who haven't weathered the physical strain, the grime and the hair-matting humidity that the city inflicts on them, and... on all of us.

My bosoms might not have been so pert as theirs when I arrived, but I was as fresh-faced and sparkling clean as these residents of mannequin street/Playboy mansion. After the make-up slid off my sweaty face, my nice clothes went mouldy and I realised that hair styling and bicycle helmets aren't compatible, I too started to look pretty rough around the edges. It's basically the reverse of that film from the 1980s where a mannequin came to life, as I come ever closer to resembling a Hanoi mannequin (but with bigger pants). I guess when my arms fall off I'll know it's time to leave.


  1. It's also ironic because Asians are scared of black people. Maybe they are trying to scare people into buying their clothes?

    I will not be able to sleep tonight, let alone EAT MYSELF SICK on Sunday.

    P.s. I love the third last photo, it actually looks like that guy has MASSIVE PUBES.

  2. Where, oh where, is Mannequin Street? My time in Hanoi was the poorer for not having visited this cultural site

  3. We too missed Mannequin Street, but having seen all those other streets (Bamboo Street with the imitation bamboo - yes really - was pretty good) I understand. We were too busy in Electrical Street looking for a light globe to see much more. But we did see the mannequins in the shops and it is indeed a wonder why anyone would be tempted by those "unusual" looks!

  4. Jodeska: I can always count on you to mention the MASSIVE PUBES, can't I?

    Lani: It's Cua Bac, near that awful Dien Bien Phu-Hang Bong intersection. Not exactly Hanoi's number one tourist hotspot.

    Buster: Well, I must admit that Mannequin Street pales in comparison to Bamboo Ladder Street. In other Hanoi-related news which I know you'll be interested in, Sohot has "renovated" its toilet and now it's just a NORMAL TOILET! The outrage!

  5. Love this post. Also pleased to see red heads well represented in the mannequin world of Hanoi. Well represented among the battered and bruised and mangled ones anyway


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