Connect Comfort and Uplift

The 80s Mannequin Creative Challenge Project

6 min read

Connect Comfort and Uplift

6 min read


Blackpool Grand Launches The 80s Mannequin Creative Challenge Project linked to the spectacular smash-hit 80’s comedy musical Around the World in 80s Days which returns this October.

The theatre kick-off the opening week in 80s designer style… and what better way to do that than partnering with local community groups in a project where they are given the creative challenge of creating their own 80s-stylized mannequins which are then presented around the theatre for visitors to the show.

One of the Blackpool Grand aims is building long-lasting relationships with our creative partners in order to present children/young people with exciting new ways to participate and learn through theatre and arts.

The theatre is proud to be working with such organisations as Junction 4 Productions, Blackpool School of Arts, The Old Electric Theatre, House of Wingz, Highfurlong School and our lead Associate RSC School Our Lady Primary, and are thrilled to invite each of these partners to take part in this Creative Challenge. Each organisation explains its choices/design concept, here.


Participants of The 80s Mannequin Creative Challenge Project

The 80s Mannequin Creative Challenge – A huge thank you to all of our partners for their creative work; we look forward to welcoming you all into the theatre to see the production and creative designs on display for yourselves!


Junction 4 Productions - Mannequin Creative Challenge


Desperately Seeking Costumes (not Susan)

Junction 4 Productions have created a model from their extensive costume collection that they hold at their Blackpool base. Costumes are only part of the work that Junction 4 Productions portfolio of projects that they deliver throughout the North West. A large amount of the props and scenery have been supplied by Junction 4 and they are proud to be involved with this production. If you would like to help in the arts and craft production work of scenery and props-please get in touch.

Junction 4 is also a musical theatre performance group and are currently embarking on a production of Into The Woods which they will perform at Lowther Pavilion in Lytham in 2022.

Junction 4 Hub is a project that works with adults with learning difficulties and again can be contacted via the number given. We aim to deliver inclusive arts based activities and create drama based learning for all. We meet twice weekly at Whitehill Business Park base. We are most grateful the National Lottery Community Fund for their continued support


School Of Arts - Mannequin Creative Challenge



The Eighties, a decade of many fashion changes, started with the new romantic movement and pop stars such as Boy George. The main features of the look were strong make-up on both girls and boys, frilly shirts, and androgynous clothing. The look was heavily centred around The Blitz nightclub scene in London.

Margaret Thatcher became the first-ever woman Prime Minister in this country. She led the nation for 11-years and was partly responsible for the wide shoulder look that was so iconic at the time, labelled ‘Power Dressing’, big shoulders were synonymous with equality and women’s rights.

Japanese fashion designers were also highly influential, Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto designed clothes with rips and holes, tattered and ragged they represented the ‘aesthetics of poverty’ A quite calculatedly subversive look that influenced a new form of anti-fashion in the early eighties and was the forerunner to grunge in the nineties.

A fitness craze became widespread, the care of the body was the crucial time and money consuming activity of the denizens of consumer society. Jane Fonda embodied the new yuppie generation of fitness freaks, and everyone participated in the craze that was aerobics.

The Blackpool School of Arts ‘look’ brings together many of these themes, our denim cropped jacket references the distressed look introduced by the Japanese designers, the flirty ‘RaRa’ skirt takes its influence from Madonna and Cyndi Lauper, two key pop idols of the time, footless tights, which were worn with everything, and the ‘Bananarama’ messy hair, scarf wrap and hat. The look is finished off with armfuls of bangles… Our girl is rocking the eighties look!

The Fashion and Costume degrees at Blackpool School of Arts, sit at the interface of high fashion and creative costume. From catwalk to music videos, creative fashion resonates with a wide range of audiences and the course encourages innovative approaches through all projects, aiming to stretch and challenge students in a creative sense whilst developing industry level practical abilities.

The Level 6 Fashion and Costume Students.Lauren Allsopp, Cameron Gibbs Taylor, Sarah Cardwell, Heather Heaton, John Lopez-Rios, Joshua Harris, Emma Petrak. Programme Leader Ang Young, Digital Lecturer Rachelle Panagarry, and Specialist Practitioner Karen Walch.


House of Wingz - Mannequin Creative Challenge


The Grand Master

House of Wingz is represented by an iconic Hip Hop style encapsulating the underground culture during its emergence in the early 80’s. Even today, the bucket hat, track jacket and baggy jeans can be found in any Hip-Hop lover’s wardrobe. Adidas Shell toes are not only an aesthetic choice but are worn for practicality. Their protective rubber toe and loose fit make them a popular choice for B-boys and Girls.

The Grand Master’s bag of spray cans is a tribute to the influence that street art has on our organisation and all the aspiring artists who come through our doors. Illustrations by Keith Haring, as seen on the Grand Master’s jeans, have inspired the bold and colourful branding for House of Wingz.

The name, abbreviated to HOW, is influenced by the countercultural phenomenon of Ballroom, rooted in the necessity of community and safety, and in the defiance of oppression. ‘Houses’ are chosen families of artists and performers who ‘walk’ at balls as a form of self-expression and escapism. Walking enables people to be whoever they want to be, to create an alternative reality where they can share the version of themselves that they love, without fear of judgement. A celebration of personal identity, acceptance, expression, struggle, community, and love.

Our company emblem is ‘Wingz’ which represents the elevation in spirit one can discover by engaging in arts and street culture. Any individual can find their ‘Wingz’ and can use them to rise above personal difficulties.

HOW is a Blackpool based ‘Art House’, specialising in Street culture. Our work is principally Dance and music lead, but we offer many other creative projects to young people and adults. Our brand ethos ‘Our House is your House’ is at the core of the work we do. We welcome anyone to come in, make themselves at home and delve into our uplifting and exciting movement.


Highfurlong - Mannequin Creative Challenge



Highfurlong School is a co-educational community special school, providing education for pupils aged 2-19 yrs with a wide range of special educational needs. Our ethos is all about having fun and taking part in projects that will help us follow our school motto; Inspire, Challenge and Believe.

Highfurlong School loved creating an 80s Mannequin for the project and found it incredibly fun, they have named her ‘Dawn’. Pentagon class (12-14 yrs) enjoyed selecting her outfit (and struggling to get her into the skinny leggings and top)!

Dawn has brightened up the classroom and the Pentagon participants all love her lots. The students will be having a private Heritage Tour of the theatre as part of a programme of work, this also provides an opportunity to see the theatre in all its glory before coming to see Around The World in 80s Days with their parents.

Blackpool Grand understands theatres can be scary places if you’ve never been before, so providing the opportunity to learn a little bit about the building and see it whilst it’s got all the lights on (and is quiet) is incredibly beneficial to pupils with additional needs prior to a visit.


RSC Associate Schools - Mannequin Creative Challenge


Kylie Shakespeare

RSC Associate Schools – Blackpool Grand Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company have been working in partnership with local, Blackpool, Fylde & Wyre Schools for the past 10 years. We are so lucky that the teachers involved in this partnership are the most fun, enthusiastic and passionate people you could ever hope to work with.

Teacher participants of the RSC Associate Schools were asked to bring an item of 80s clothing to a teachers training day, this mannequin was the result!

Special thanks go to our Lead Associate School, Our Lady of the Assumption, who hosted ‘Kylie Shakespeare’ and helped with the ‘Locomotion’ to get her back to the Grand.


Old Electric - RSC Associate Schools - Mannequin Creative Challenge



Princess was designed and created by Emily Black and Sarah Walmsley from The Old Electric.

When we started to think about this challenge and what the 1980s meant to us, themes such as Apartheid, Miners Strike, Sections 14 and 28, and Poll Tax occurred.

A bumper decade for film and music but little inspiration from the theatre world; dominated as it was by government cuts to funding and a capitalist approach best articulated by Thatcher’s arts minister Richard Luce who said “the only test of our ability to succeed is whether we can attract enough customers”, a period that did so little to promote community or grass-roots creativity that’s we found it hard to find a connection – we, therefore, went with the ever-classy monochrome look instead!

The Old Electric was formed in 2020 as a new creative community hub from a derelict nightclub, originally built as a cinema; The Princess Electric Theatre, hence my name (and a nod to Di’s omnipresence during the 1980’s).


The 80s Mannequin Creative Challenge – Special thanks to M&S Blackpool for the use of their Mannequins.

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