Cynthia (Gaba girl)

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Cynthia was a plaster mannequin of the 1930s created by Lester Gaba.


In 1932 the artist Lester Gaba created a mannequin known as Cynthia for Saks Fifth Avenue. Cynthia was a 100-pound model who had realistic imperfections like freckles, pigeon toes, and even different sized feet.[1] Gaba posed with Cynthia around New York City for a Life Magazine shoot that humorously demonstrates how lifelike the mannequins had become. Cartier and Tiffany sent her jewelry, Lilly Daché designed hats for her, and couturiers sent her their latest fashions, furrieries sent minks. Soon a whole host of "Gaba Girls" were to follow.

The Gaba Girls were life-sized, carved-soap mannequins modeled after well-known New York debutantess for the windows of Best & Company. They reduced the weight of a New York store mannequin from 200 to around 30 pounds, and with the Gaba Girls and their realistic successors’ appeal, mannequins became a hot new tool for sellers to attract their clientele.

Cynthia soon became dazzlingly famous. She was given a credit card from Saks Fifth Avenue. Cynthia had a box seat subscription to the Metropolitan Opera House. Cynthia made the cover of Life Magazine. Cynthia had her own newspaper column, and a successful radio show. She was invited to the royal wedding of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson in 1937.[1] Cynthia went to Hollywood to appear in Artists and Models Abroad (1938) with Jack Benny. Cynthia got tons of fan mail. Cynthia was photographed by Alfred Eisenstaedt. Cynthia went to the Broadhurst Theater in New York, to see the notorious play Madame Bovary, in 1939. Gaba insisted that Cynthia had laryngitis, to account for her lack of speech. Cynthia met her demise when she slipped from a chair in a beauty salon and shattered.[1] The press reported her death, and Gaba appeared distraught, but eventually reconstructed her.

In December 1942, Gaba was inducted into the army. Cynthia retired, and it wasn't until 1953 that she came back to the public in a TV show. But the magic was over, and Cynthia was soon to be stored in a cupboard for good.


  1. ^ a b c Conradt, Stacy (02-12-2012). "In the 1930s, a Mono-Named Mannequin Took New York by Storm". Mental Floss. Mental Floss. Retrieved 2012-02-15.  Check date values in: |date= (help)

^ Leeander Scott: "Gabbing over Gaba" ^ "Gabbing over Gaba". by Leeander Scott ^ "Lester Gaba: From Soap to Mannequins" by Janet Mabie