Restaurants in Vilnius are resuming operations in accordance with social distancing measures by seating customers at least two meters apart. While these restaurants are allowed to seat more people outdoors as per the open-air initiative of the city, a lot of the tables indoors were left empty. To creatively utilize the extra space, mannequins were seated to exhibit designer fashion pieces.
The creative baby of restaurant Cozy’s owner Bernie Ter Braak in collaboration with local fashion designer Julia Janus, this project displayed the newest fashion collections of neighboring fashion boutiques and home-grown fashion designers.
According to Braak, the empty tables inside his restaurant looked “odd” and there was no way of removing them. Hence, he came up with this creative solution. After news spread across the country, well-known designers also joined the project and it grew to see the participation of a few dozen restaurants and cafes, and more than 60 originally dressed mannequins seated amidst the human dining guests.
The ‘dining’ mannequins showcased unique clothing and fashion pieces from nineteen boutiques in the city’s Old Town Glass Quarter which featured local fashion designers and home-grown brands. Each table with a mannequin also displayed information about the exhibited items and where they could be purchased.
Designer Janus mentioned that the fashion industry had been severely affected by the lockdown, with local boutiques shuttering and being unable to sell “niche, original pieces” of local designers. She hoped that this campaign might “move the waters” and the associated local designers would “gain some visibility”.
One of Europe’s leading high-quality mannequin manufacturers, IDW Display had also come forward to support this campaign which “unites art, fashion, and food.” by agreeing to provide the required number of mannequins free of charge till the end of May, which was when the campaign was wrapped up.
Earlier in May, designer Janus had also organized the world’s first Mask Fashion Week wherein people were invited to drive or walk along a pre-set route of twenty billboards in central Vilnius which featured photographs of men, women, children, and families wearing painted face masks. This impromptu campaign stemmed from the designer’s belief that even though protective masks are mandatory, it is “impossible to cover up or mask creativity”. Hence, each billboard was captioned with the phrase “Creativity Cannot be Masked”.
City mayor Remigijus Šimašius also came forward to comment on this initiative, saying how even though the lockdown “restricts” them, it still gives them many opportunities to “unveil the boundless charms” of Vilnius.
Following the trend in Lithuania, the three-starred Michelin restaurant, Inn at Little Washington in Washington, USA also took a similar approach when it resumed operations on May 29. In accordance with social distancing norms, when the restaurant agreed to cut its occupancy by half, Chef Patrick O’Connell decided to seat “theatrically dressed” mannequins between his guests to ‘elicit a few smiles’ and “provide some fun photo ops”.
Feature Image Via Unsplash