The Return of Dominique

Two custom-made mannequins in Mary Jo Bruno's small, elegant namesake store in Manhattan Beach are not merely props to display clothing. They have, to put it mildly, taken on a life of their own. They have become as much a part of the store's identity as the merchandise (lingerie, vintage clothing, jewelry, and home products). When the store opened last fall, one of the mannequins was placed in the window, reclining on a glass table. She wore a bra and thong ensemble, her rear end facing outward, a look not unlike what many girls wear on the beach a few blocks away. Controversy ensued, with one Manhattan Beach resident actually complaining to City Hall.

No action was taken, but the store got loads of attention (some the unwanted kind) and media coverage. Channel 2 News, KCAL and Fox 11 all did stories. One local newspaper columnist concocted an imaginary conversation with the mannequin. Bruno held a "name the mannequin" contest and dubbed the window star Dominique; the other is Colette. The store put their images on t-shirts, camisoles, and bikini underwear.

Dominique remained in the window, in a variety of outfits, until going on hiatus in June. (A visit to the "spa," I'm told.) Colette took her place, posed demurely wearing a dress. Bruno wants to broaden the store's appeal, so the window mannequin will probably remain modestly attired. Dominique's fans will be thrilled to learn, however, that she has returned. So many customers inquired of her well-being that Bruno decided to give her top billing at an evening reception this Thursday. Customers are invited to "Get Cozy with Dominique and Colette" while sipping mandarin orange martinis and checking out Bruno's line of mesh lingerie and new fragrances. A lingerie-clad Dominique has again taken up residence on her glass table, this time inside the store.

Photo: Judy Graeme

More by Judy Graeme:
Recently on Native Intelligence
New at LA Observed