Lithuania restaurants using mannequins at empty tables to model local designers' fashions

Paging Mr. Mannequin, party of two.

Mannequins are the latest must-have customer as the coronavirus pandemic has forced restaurants to institute social distancing practices and limit capacity.

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Restaurants in Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital, have started to use mannequins in eateries as they reopen.

Restaurants in Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital, have started to use mannequins in eateries as they reopen. (The Official Development Agency of the City of Vilnius)

One of these creative solutions utilizes mannequins to make restaurants seem fuller. Most recently, restaurants in Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital, have started to embrace the stiff trend — but with a fashionable twist.

Dozens of restaurants and bars in the county, upon reopening, are now acting as displays for local designers to feature their fashions by adorning the sitting mannequins in the season’s latest looks.

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"Empty tables inside our restaurant look rather odd, and we don't have any way to remove them," explained Bernie Ter Braak, the owner of the Cosy restaurant, in a press release. Ter Braak is credited with creating the initiative with local designer Julija Janus.

Restaurants and bars in the county, which have started reopening, are now acting as displays for local designers to feature their fashions by adorning the sitting mannequins in the season’s latest looks.

Restaurants and bars in the county, which have started reopening, are now acting as displays for local designers to feature their fashions by adorning the sitting mannequins in the season’s latest looks. (The Official Development Agency of the City of Vilnius)

"Therefore, we decided to reach out to our neighbors, fashion boutique stores, and invited them to use our empty tables to showcase their newest collections,” Braak continued. “The news spread, and well-known designers joined this project, which keeps gaining interest across the city."

More than 60 mannequins modeling local designer’s clothes from 19 boutiques are featured in dozens of restaurants and cafés in the city’s Old Town Glass Quarter, according to the release. The mayor, Remigijus Šimašius, called the idea “a perfect match of communal spirit and creativity.”

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More than 60 mannequins modeling local designer’s clothes from 19 boutiques are featured in dozens of restaurants and cafés in the city’s Old Town Glass Quarter.

More than 60 mannequins modeling local designer’s clothes from 19 boutiques are featured in dozens of restaurants and cafés in the city’s Old Town Glass Quarter. (The Official Development Agency of the City of Vilnius)

Patrons of the restaurants can do more than just window shop, though. Each mannequin is seated at a table which has information about where each outfit can be purchased.

The trendy social-distancing stunt has been embraced by the city, and IDW, one of Europe’s leading high-quality mannequin manufacturers, which has provided the mannequins for free, the release shared.

"The fashion industry is particularly affected by the lockdown," said Julia Janus. "Local boutiques used to sell the niche, original pieces created by local designers. As they are currently closed due to the quarantine, designers do not have many opportunities to showcase their latest collections, and in general, the consumption is down. We hope that this campaign will move the waters and local designers will gain some visibility."

The fashion displays will continue through May.

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In Virginia, a Michelin-starred restaurant began taking a similar approach earlier this month, using mannequins in period costume to liven-up his dining room when reopening rules dictated that customers can only be seated outside as eateries were opening back up.