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A model or mannequin is a person who, for artistic or commercial reasons, allows himself to be portrayed or filmed or who presents something without fulfilling a particular height of creation through their actions .

Pronunciation and etymology

The term model ( pronunciation : [ 'mɔdl ]) comes from English and is pronounced with a short, open “o” and without an “e”. The German term “model” [ moˈdɛl ], which was common until the 1960s , is no longer used today because the meaning has shifted towards prostitution .

The pronunciation of mannequin (and mannequin as well) is [ ˈmanəkɛ̃ ] or [ ˈmanəˈkɛ̃ː ]. He comes from the French and means literally " mannequin , mannequin ", which in turn the Middle Dutch mannekijn back (on German "man").

Cultural history

Bust of the Dama de Elche , around 500 BC Chr.

The popularity of the optical role model function of socially highly respected personalities has been documented all over the world well into the early days of human history and affects not only women, but also men, children and even animals.

Deities and rulers as early identification figures

The people wore and adorned themselves and their pets with what secular or religious leaders gave them in order to identify with them in this way. Fashion, jewelry, hairstyle, make-up and accessories had (to this day) a high socio-political unification and demarcation function, which of course could quickly change with each new ruler or spiritual leader.

Depiction of the Egyptian goddess Bastet with a decorated cat collar

Development of related branches of industry

Creation and rise of a flanking branch of industry for decorative products, which was naturally very interested in finding the right body, head and footwear, weapons, armor, saddles, snaffles, dog leashes, cat collars, cowbells or whatever else was popular, Bringing it to the people as profitably and as widely as possible is also documented in parallel in all cultures and formed enormously extensive trading networks early on. Many trade routes are still highly active today. The Silk Road is one of the oldest and most famous.

Early media that reported the appearance of high-ranking or otherwise interesting people were either oral in the form of legends and fairy tales, where the appearance of the heroes or goddesses was described and embellished in detail, or images in the form of statues, reliefs and pictures, later also coins that were worked out in detail in order to be able to show off one's personal status to posterity.

Model as (un) professional activity

The use of professional models without special, previous prominence of the person can only be proven indirectly, if at all. In almost all cultures, women’s work was subject to strict rules. Women who used their beauty commercially or even marketed it were threatened with a bad reputation and the associated exclusion from society. Men would have been socially sanctioned to work as a professional demonstrator of fashion goods or jewelry because of their traditional understanding of their roles.

At the same time, however, the decorative industry was absolutely dependent on the presentation of its products. Presumably slaves, domestic workers, apprentices, relatives and acquaintances were obliged to perform. Professional models have only been documented as professional employees since the 1920s, and as employees from the 1960s.

After the First World War, the fashion designer Coco Chanel made lasting changes to the fashion landscape. With her, the era of professional models began, as she took the fashion presentations out of the private rooms of wealthy customers and made large events out of them, to which she also invited the press.

History and examples

1930s to 1950s

One of the first known models was Lisa Fonssagrives with an astonishingly long career from the 1930s to the 1950s, often photographed by Horst P. Horst in Paris . She was joined by models such as Dovima , Sunny Harnett , Dorian Leigh , Suzy Parker and Jean Patchett in the 1940s and 1950s . In Germany, Christa Päffgen created the basis for her later career as a singer and actress with her work as the first German demonstration lady to make the leap abroad.

1960s and 1970s

In the 1960s, the London young junior look established itself as its best-known representatives with Jean Shrimpton , Edie Sedgwick , Twiggy and Penelope Tree . Other well-known models from the 1960s were Benedetta Barzini , Marisa Berenson , Wilhelmina Cooper , Paulene Stone , Sharon Tate , Veruschka , Patti Boyd and Peggy Moffitt .

Prominent models of the 1970s were Jerry Hall , Patti Hansen , Barbara Bach and Iman Abdulmajid, as well as Gia Carangi .

1980s and 1990s: emergence of the "supermodels"

In the 1980s, the term supermodel came up for models who, in addition to their contractual functions, developed a large independent, international celebrity and media presence. Examples of models early on as supermodels are Paulina Porizkova , Kathy Ireland , Grace Jones , Christie Brinkley , Carol Alt and Stephanie Seymour .

The 1990s were the breakthrough of the supermodels, some of whom reached celebrities like the superstars from film and music. A series of photos by the German photographer Peter Lindbergh with the five best-known models of the time, Christy Turlington , Naomi Campbell , Linda Evangelista , Tatjana Patitz and Cindy Crawford , played a major role on the streets of New York City , created in January 1990 for the British edition of Vogue . With this photo series, the phenomenon of the supermodels prevailed.

2000s and 2010s

From the 2000s onwards, so-called “casting shows” were produced on private television , which intensified this phenomenon again. Well-known examples are America's Next Top Model , America's Most Smartest Model and, in the German-speaking region, Germany's Next Top Model , Austria's Next Top Model . Further presence in the other media also popularized the phenomenon of “supermodels”.

The fashion world has since been dominated by a few models, especially Claudia Schiffer , Cindy Crawford , Linda Evangelista , Naomi Campbell , Helena Christensen , Christy Turlington , Tatjana Patitz and Kate Moss . In the 2010s, Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell were still full-time models of the supermodels, since 2006 Linda Evangelista has returned after a long break, the others withdrew, founded families, became entrepreneurs themselves or are only occasionally as Model active. Other 1990s supermodels were Eva Herzigová , Nadja Auermann , Karen Mulder , Carla Bruni , Amber Valletta , Sophie Dahl , Stella Tennant , Rebecca Romijn , Shalom Harlow , Milla Jovovich , Isabella Rossellini and Laetitia Casta . The supermodels since the 2000s have included Gisele Bündchen , Tyra Banks , Heidi Klum , Adriana Lima , Alessandra Ambrosio and Karolína Kurková . Doutzen Kroes , Agyness Deyn and Karlie Kloss can be counted among the “offspring” of supermodels .

Male supermodels are a comparatively young phenomenon. The most popular male models include Marcus Schenkenberg , Werner Schreyer , Andrew Stetson, Massimiliano Neri, Michael Gandolfi, Mark Vanderloo , Alex Lundqvist, Michael Bergin, Will Chalker, Baptiste Giabiconi , Nico Schwanz and Lars Burmeister .

to form


Until the 1980s, a distinction was made between mannequins, who primarily work on the catwalk, and photo models. The main reason was that the size required to maintain the necessary presence on the catwalk was often a hindrance when taking photos or that the models were often too small.

The word “mannequin” comes from the Middle Dutch mannekijn “male” and originally stood for “ jointed doll ”, an anatomical model for painters or tailors. In French , it can also mean “person with no will” (“washcloth”). In English, too, mannequin (also manikin ) stands for “mannequin”. In Slavic countries such as Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Slovakia, the word Maneken (plural: Manekeni) is used similarly to mannequin with the meaning of model in Germany.

Georg Büchmann attributes the term “mannequin” to an invention of the Florentine painter Fra Bartolommeo , who drew all objects from nature and therefore had a life-size wooden figure (Italian: manichino ; French: mannequin ) made with flexible limbs and clothes. It was not until the British silk merchant and fashion designer Charles Frederick Worth used people instead of wax dolls to show off his latest creations in 1858.

Mascha Kaléko wrote a poem in 1933 called Mannequins .


The male form has also been referred to as the "model" since the 1980s. The term dressman is a pseudo-Anglicism that is not understood at all in English (in English the term " male model " is used for this).

In special cases, male models refer to themselves as “dressmen” when they want to emphasize that they are only available for the presentation of men's outerwear in a conservative framework and style. Subgroups of models who called themselves dressman in the 1960s and 1970s hold on to this term as an elitist self-designation. However, there is a large overlap between the two groups . Furthermore, models and agencies in German-speaking countries use the term dressman as a keyword in order to be found more easily by Internet search engines and in networks. In relation to presentations, however, the word is no longer used, unless one belongs to the groups mentioned or intends the corresponding connotation . Occasionally, the word dressman is used as an introduction to texts in order to avoid the expression “male model”, which is perceived as less elegant. As soon as the context and especially the gender have been clarified, only model is used in the further course.

Exhibition or promotion models

Promotion models, such as here at Tuning World Bodensee , should draw attention to the product on display.

Related to the mannequin is the "model" who presents or demonstrates something other than clothing at events. "Promotion models" are not supposed to present a product or demonstrate how it works, but instead draw attention to the existence of the product. Communication with the audience is only intended via optical stimuli, although verbal addresses by the audience cannot always be avoided. Since models usually cannot answer technical questions, this is rather counterproductive in terms of the exhibition objective. For example, models are booked in order to be lifelike at a furniture exhibition as apparent users in a residential or office landscape. Or they should lie on the sun deck of a sports boat or just draw attention to the brochure stand next to which they are posted. In order to perform these tasks, they do not need to know anything about the product, the service or the client and are fundamentally different from the hostess . This is expressly integrated into the organizational process of an event, and visual attractiveness is only a desired secondary qualification. In fact, the transition from model to hostess is fluid.

Models of this kind are also booked for press appointments as alleged employees or visitors at business openings or company parties. They distribute brochures at congresses, but are only intended to draw attention to the entrance door to the next event, or as apparent assistants by being on a stage to increase the audience's attention for the speaker. Occasionally, such “assistants” take on the moderation or moderation of a speaker or ask agreed interim questions. At motorsport events, models of this kind as grid girls are a common sight. Here, too, the transition to becoming a hostess is fluid.

As with hostesses, the activity of the promotion model must be clearly separated from the escort service , which often also includes erotic services after the ostensible main event with the client or others.

Photo models and media models

Over time, the difference between mannequin and model disappeared. Nowadays, people who are photographed for the purpose of advertising, art, or entertainment are commonly referred to as models . The term model was common in German until the 1980s . After this was increasingly used as a euphemism for prostitutes ( Rosemarie Nitribitt ), the English way of writing and speaking with an "l" was adopted. In photography, this applies to advertising photography , fashion photography , portrait photography as well as nude photography . Partial models are often used here , which only make hands and feet available for advertising purposes and do not even appear as a person. The former is called a hand model .

Nude and erotic models

Nude or erotic models came into vogue with the popularity of pin-ups and men's magazines like Playboy . Their job is not so much to sell something directly with their bodies , but rather indirectly , by serving for entertainment and thereby increasing the circulation of the corresponding press or media products. This also includes video, television or game show models (such as the former 9Live broadcaster, for example ), whereby the presence of these models is intended to increase the number of viewers so that the corresponding advertisements and blocks reach a larger audience. The transition to pornography can be fluid; many porn actresses like Jenna Jameson started out as nude models.

Artist and nude models

Nude painting art students at the École des Beaux-Arts , late 19th century

For artists , living people (usually unclothed) stand as models . This model does not have the task of presenting or demonstrating something, but rather it serves as a template for works of art or artistic studies. A model must be able to remain motionless for a long period of time and thus make itself available to art in teaching and work development. Models are hired for payment by artists in their studios or by the art academies for the practical art training of their students.

Differences between the sexes

Modeling is one of the few where women are more in demand and better paid than men at every level. Male models rarely achieve greater brand awareness; Exceptions are the Swede Marcus Schenkenberg , the Dutch Mark Vanderloo , the Austrian Werner Schreyer and the German Lars Burmeister . For a long time the American Brad Kroenig was considered to be the “highest paid male photo model” in the world, with an income of an estimated one million US dollars per year . According to a Forbes study published in May 2008, he has now been replaced by the Canadian Taylor Fuchs , who is eight years his junior . The latest Forbes study from May 2009 names the American Sean O'Pry as currently the most commercially successful male model, while Fuchs has dropped to eighth place. The annual income of Gisele Bündchen is given at 25 million dollars, that of Heidi Klum at 16 million dollars, whereby her income is mainly generated outside of the modeling activity, namely with television money, license income and with the marketing of her own celebrity.

Model agencies

Models are mostly placed through model agencies who receive part of the fee (usually 20 percent in Germany, but up to 50 percent in some countries (e.g. France)) as an agency commission (AP). The agency will normally charge the client the AP in addition to the agreed model fee.

In Germany, a number of agencies have organized themselves into the industry association VELMA .



The fashion industry is often accused of promoting anorexia by choosing particularly slim models . The industry is trying to counter this allegation.

As a preventive measure against anorexia and bulimia , for the first time at the Madrid fashion week Pasarela Cibeles in September 2006 by decision of the district government of Madrid Models, whose body mass index (BMI) is below 18 kg / m². This lower limit for participation was set on the advice of nutritionists . At a height of 1.75 meters, a model must therefore weigh at least 55 kilograms. The background to this participation ban is a recommendation by the Spanish Parliament from 1999 and ongoing protests by consumer associations in Spain .

The Italian fashion association reached an agreement with the Italian government in December 2006, according to which catwalk models must be at least 16 years old and, as in the Spanish regulation, have a BMI of at least 18 kg / m². Giorgio Armani had previously called for " everyone to work together against anorexia "; also Prada and Versace had announced not to use "skeletal models" in their fashion shows. The new regulation already applied to the fashion shows in Milan in February 2007.

The fashion designers in Paris had rejected a stricter regulation, which Valentino Garavani criticized: “ I think enough is enough with thin models. Recently we have not been watching women on the catwalk but a parade of skeletons. ”(German:“ I think enough is enough with thin models. Lately we haven't observed women on the catwalk, but a parade of skeletons. ”) In Paris, Valentino had already hired several models in January 2006, the clothes in the ready-to-wear size 38 demonstrated. The London Fashion Week organizer , the British Moderator (BFC), announced its decision, which includes a ban on models under the age of 16 and an obligation to provide a health certificate, following the release of a model health report.

The example of the late model Ana Carolina Reston Macan shows how important these decisions are . The internationally successful Brazilian died at the age of 21 as a result of her anorexia.

In 2007, the photographer Oliviero Toscani (also known as Benetton photographer) raised awareness of the dangers of anorexia with a campaign and denounced the mania for slimness (text: "Anorexia / No"). The anorexic Isabelle Caro posed naked on large posters - she is said to have weighed 31 kg at a height of 1.64 m. Caro died in 2010 at the age of 28 from the effects of her 15 years of anorexia.

The American model Crystal Renn described in the book Hungry: A Young Model's Story of Appetite, Ambition, and the Ultimate Embrace of Curies in 2009 , how her model scout and her agency drove her into anorexia.

On July 11, 2008, representatives of the German fashion industry, together with the Federal Minister of Health Ulla Schmidt, adopted a voluntary commitment in the Charter Life Has Weight . Accordingly, models at fashion shows and on photos must in future have a body mass index of at least 18.5 kg / m², which corresponds to clothing size 36, and be at least 16 years old.

In Israel , the use of underweight models is prohibited by law. Israeli models are required to present their employers with a medical certificate every three months that their BMI does not fall below the norm of 18.5 kg / m² set by the World Health Organization . Otherwise employers face heavy fines. Criticism of this has been voiced by Israeli models who are inherently below this value. Instead, they advocated regular health tests. Furthermore, there are strict legal limits to the digital processing of photos, so the body structure must not be digitally slimmed down and processing must be provided with recognizable information on posters .

On April 3, 2015, the French National Assembly passed a law prohibiting the employment of severely malnourished women as models. The French health authority is supposed to set a body mass index (BMI) that models must not go below. Model agencies that hire extremely skinny mannequins now face six months' imprisonment and a fine of 75,000 euros. Website operators can be punished with up to one year in prison and a fine of up to 10,000 euros if they support extreme leanness and excessive diets. On December 17, 2015, the Senate approved the law.

Substance abuse

There is a risk that very young girls in particular, who are exposed to the pressures of the modeling business , try to combat stress through drug abuse . Gia Carangi achieved worldwide fame in 1986 for her AIDS death as a result of her drug abuse. A book was written about her life, which was made into a film with Angelina Jolie in the TV movie Gia - Preis der Schönheit in the leading role in 1998 . Model Kate Moss hit the headlines negatively when she was photographed sniffing cocaine in 2005 . A series of campaign cancellations by famous fashion houses and a kink in her career were the result, Moss was only able to build on her successes after she had gone to a rehab clinic.


The mere reduction to the body as a selling point is criticized by many feminists such as Alice Schwarzer as misogynistic, as they see the abuse of the female body as an object.


In the fall of 2007, the New York Times criticized the fact that almost all of the major fashion companies had banned black models from the catwalks. This repeats a racial segregation in the fashion business that has long been believed to have been overcome . In 1988, the fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent had to force the French fashion magazine Vogue to also give the black model Naomi Campbell a place on the cover of the fashion magazine. One of the causes of the renewed racial segregation is speculated that the fashion companies are no longer owner-managed and that the new management prefer “fair-skinned and -haired women with rather inconspicuous faces” in order to be able to appear uniformly and conservatively worldwide. Specifically, the influential editor-in-chief of US Vogue , Anna Wintour , is accused of being one-sided. While Naomi Campbell was only eight times on the Vogue cover in her entire career, Kate Moss appeared there 24 times. In addition to this creeping exclusion, there is also lower pay for black models.

Asian models are booked by the international fashion industry even more rarely than black models. The Filipino model Anna Bayle is considered to be the only model from Asia who was able to achieve success on the international catwalks and was considered a "supermodel" in the 1980s. But since the economic rise of China, more and more Chinese models have been booked by the international fashion industry in the hope of increasing sales in the Chinese market. The most successful Chinese models in 2012 included Du Juan, Sui He , Fei Fei Sun, Liu Wen , Ming Xi and Shu Pei Qin.

In April 2010, the editorial staff of the Indian edition of Vogue dared to have five dark-skinned South Indian models appear on its cover for the first time. The response from the Indian media was unexpectedly positive and interpreted as a sign of a change in general attitudes. The Indian middle class would no longer accept the white-skinned ideal of beauty alone.


Singing about models as a topic has already helped several German artists make the hit parades . For example:

See also


  • Peter Brysch: This is how I become a model . Ueberreuter, Vienna 2002, ISBN 3-8000-1539-0 .
  • Alexandra Diemair: Look at me. The model guide for boys and girls . Ed .: Hans Nolte, Frank Winnig. Ellermann, Hamburg 2000, ISBN 3-7707-3105-0 .
  • Michael Gross: Model. Beautiful Women's Ugly Shop . Europe, Vienna / Munich 1996, ISBN 3-203-77518-2 (Original title: Model . Translated by Eva Malsch).
  • Wolfgang Hegener: The mannequin. From sexual subject to asexual self . Bankruptcy book publisher Gehrke, Tübingen 1992, ISBN 3-88769-058-3 .
  • Dietmar Kreutzer: Pure male models . Construction, Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-345-00732-0 .
  • Natasha Walter: Living Dolls. Why young women today would rather be beautiful than smart . Krüger , Frankfurt am Main 2011, ISBN 978-3-8105-2377-8 (original title: Living Dolls . Translated by Gabriele Herbst).
  • Margrieta Wever: dream job top model . Heyne, Munich 2008, ISBN 3-453-60073-8 .
  • As beautiful as a top model . Goldmann, Munich 2007, ISBN 3-442-39116-4 .
  • Nicole M. Wilk: Body Codes. The many faces of femininity in advertising . Campus, Frankfurt am Main 2002, ISBN 3-593-37085-9 .

Web links

Commons : Models  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. cf. Bernadine Morris: "Dovima, a shelf model of the 50's, Is Dead at 63" , The New York Times , May 5, 1990, p 31st
  2. The Inside Story: The Vogue Supermodel Cover , accessed on December 10, 2017 (English)
    cf. Group picture in: “Close your mouth.” In: Der Spiegel , No. 31, August 2, 2010, p. 114 and p. 116.
  3. Lauren Milligan: "Cindy Sees" ( Memento of the original from June 11, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , Vogue , November 16, 2009: "The era of the supermodel officially began when Vogue ran its iconic January 1990 cover starring the five original supermodels - Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz, Christy Turlington and Cindy Crawford - shot by Peter Lindbergh. " @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. Regina Niallah: International Modeling Guide. 5th edition. FTC Publications, Atlante 2007. ISBN 0-9774771-2-6 , p. 11. Excerpt from Google Books .
  5. Die Welt : Your hands are your capital dated November 28, 2010, loaded on April 4, 2017
  6. cf. Streib Lauren: "The World's Most Successful Male Models" , Forbes , May 7, 2008 (accessed on 25 August 2008).
  7. bid / dpa : Eating disorder - fashion against anorexia. In: Focus , July 11, 2008.
  8. ^ Italian fashion designers ban size zero models from the catwalks. In: Daily Mail , December 18, 2006.
  9. Skeletons go out of fashion. In: Daily Mail , January 23, 2007.
  10. jjc / AFP : Strict conditions. Drought times for skinny models. ( Memento of November 2, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) In: Spiegel Online , September 14, 2007.
  11. ^ Margot Reis: Isabelle Caro. How an anorexic was marketing her illness. In: Die Welt , December 7, 2007.
  12. miro: Hungry: How model Crystal Renn defeated anorexia. In: Brigitte , No. 25, November 18, 2010.
  13. See also Effi Berger: Backstage: A model unpacks . Ullstein pocket book, 2009, ISBN 978-3-548-37227-3 .
  14. ↑ Commitment . The fashion industry bans skinny models from the catwalk. In: , July 11, 2008.
  15. Michael Borgstede: The bones of the ideal woman - hard as a knife. In: The world . March 21, 2012, accessed December 26, 2015 .
  16. Law against Skinny Models. France declares war on anorexia. In: . April 3, 2015, accessed December 26, 2015 .
  17. France passes law against skinny models. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung. December 17, 2015, accessed December 26, 2015 .
  18. Guy Trebay: "Ignoring Diversity, Runways Fade to White" , New York Times , October 14 of 2007.
  19. ^ A b "Naomi Campbell: the fashion industry as racist as never before" , dpa / Bunte , February 6, 2008.
  20. ^ A b Claudia Pientka: “Model trend. The fashion sky is white ” , stern , October 25, 2007.
  21. Yin Pumin: "On the catwalk around the world" ,, January 18, 2012.
  22. Anjana Gosai: "White means beautiful" , Friday , July 20, 2010.