This year's model

First came J Lo's curvy derrière and Beyoncé's plentiful posterior. Now even mannequins are shaking their booty. Julia Stuart rejoices
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The Independent US

There's a quiet revolution going on at the New York department store Macy's. Behind the plate glass window, the cavorting mannequins with their fibreglass figures and platinum blonde wigs, are a new generation. These dummies are hot and sexy; two-and-a-half inches more curvaceous than the standard form; and take their cue from Beyoncé and J Lo rather than the runway models.

There's a quiet revolution going on at the New York department store Macy's. Behind the plate glass window, the cavorting mannequins with their fibreglass figures and platinum blonde wigs, are a new generation. These dummies are hot and sexy; two-and-a-half inches more curvaceous than the standard form; and take their cue from Beyoncé and J Lo rather than the runway models.

It seems that the high street has realised that we're not all size six and wasp waisted and are trying to reflect this. Since Macy's have started using what is called the "J Lo butt form" to display their EckoRed jeans, sales have tripled. One store has even reported male customers coming in simply to buy the mannequins, never mind the trousers. Quite what they do with them when they get them home is anybody's guess.

Goldsmith, one of the many mannequin manufacturers to follow the trend, has done away with subtlety and called its version "with a larger booty and body" simply "Sex". The company's creative director, Dwight Critchfield, says: "J Lo was the first to stress that women shouldn't be afraid to show their curves. The popularity of rap made that shape more acceptable. It is about these low-riding jeans looking good on a sexy, tight fit."

Ralph Pucci has named his latest larger-size mannequin for department stores the more demur "Goddess". It is two-and-a-half inches more curvaceous than his standard dummy and has already attracted 300 orders from retailers. "People with these types of body are flaunting it," he said. "If you have your eyes open, you see this type of body becoming more relevant. You can't flip through a magazine without seeing sexiness." But before we banish all sense of guilt as we reach for a fourth Hobnob, take note that the Goddess, the work of fashion illustrator Anja Kroencke, is still a modest 34B-25-35.5.

So are we set to see jeans displayed on the bootylicious bots on our shores? Will married men who should know better be spotted haring down Oxford Street with a pair of legs and outsized buttocks tucked under their arm?

Probably not, says Kelly Owens, spokesperson for Adel Rootstein, the display mannequin manufacturer based in Chelsea, London, which supplies major stores including Topshop, H&M, Harvey Nichols, Zara, Liberty and Ralph Lauren. About 15 years ago it produced a mannequin with a fuller figure called Plump and Pretty for larger-sized clothes. But the company has not explored the fashion for bigger bums.

Owens says, "Whatever size they are, people want to look slimmer. Chanel sends 14-year-old kids down the catwalk and its clientele are aged 40-plus. Everyone wants to see themselves as a slimmer, younger version. You see it even in clothes sizing. I fit into French Connection size eight and I'm not an eight. It's all about the feel-good factor."

The company's mannequins, which cost £741, are usually size 10. The only exception is their Seduction line, which it started producing eight years ago, which it sells to the lingerie label Agent Provocateur. "It's more curvaceous and slightly bigger than all the other mannequins, but they don't have wide hips or bottoms," she says. "I think you could insult people if you had this big mannequin which didn't look very attractive. It might put people off buying the clothing."

Owens puts the success of the larger mannequins in New York down to the fact that there are more people of a larger size in America. But the adoption of their new mannequins in large trend-driven US chains stores suggest that, these days, large sections of consumers, far from being horrified by a larger behind, are now actually flattered by the idea of having a body that will do for their jeans what these new mannequins' do.

Gareth Anderson, manager of the Lee Jeans concept store in Carnaby Street, London, says even if big-bottomed mannequins started to appear in the UK, he wouldn't use them. "I think it's good not to have a stereotypical size-eight mannequin, because real people aren't really like that. The ones we use are a generous 10. I would stick with our realistic ones as opposed to exaggerated asses. We just use those which were designed to flatter our jeans. The J Lo thing has been blown out of proportion and everyone has jumped on the big-ass bandwagon. Fashion is a fickle thing. If you are going to invest in a mannequin, it's best to go for something that will last longer than the season. If you want a good one, they are quite expensive."

Whether they do cross the pond, as everything else seems to eventually, remains to be seen. Should they arrive, those with a strong devotion for the sterling work of Misters McVities and Kipling should at least thank their lucky stars that the new trend wasn't inspired by the bottom of another female singer, one Ms K Minogue.

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