I’VE always had a soft spot for a 1980s comedy film, ever since I watched them growing up the first time round. Some, such as Back to the Future, the Breakfast Club or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, still stand the test of time for me. Others, in retrospect, revolved around increasingly bizarre ways for the lead guy to get the girl.

There were films like Weird Science, in which a couple of nerds electronically brought to life their ideal woman. Or Weekend at Bernie’s, when the death of the eponymous Bernie didn’t stop two guys determined to have a party at his house. And then there was Mannequin, in which shop window dresser Andrew McCarthy has a romantic relationship with his store dummy/trapped ancient Egyptian princess, Kim Cattrall.

This weekend, a succession of Salisbury shop windows will see their own mannequins coming to life as part of Windows Alive, a brilliantly-conceived joint project by Salisbury Bid and Hoodwink theatre company. Over the next four Saturdays, passing shoppers will be able to watch a love story play out between two store dummies. And though there may be an echo of eighties Hollywood in the inspiration, this theatrical event will actually have more of the feel of a silent movie (no Starship on the soundtrack, thank goodness).

The history of the mannequin itself is a curious one. Early models at the turn of the nineteenth century were stiff and straight-laced in posture: such was the morality of the time that it was illegal in many American cities to dress or undress a dummy without covering the store window first. Over the years, the shape of the mannequin has evolved: in the 1930s, ‘Gaba Girls’ were designed to echo Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo; by the 1960s, Twiggy became the storefront inspiration; Jane Fonda fitness trends saw the 1980s version being more toned and realistic (Kim Cattrall did a lot of body-building in readiness for her film role).

Windows Alive isn’t the first time someone has attempted to use a store window as an event. Back in the 1930s, New York department store Bonwit Teller gave their shop window to Salvador Dali to design. He lined a bathtub with lambskin, filled it with darkened water and disembodied wax hands, and next to it placed a feather-clad mannequin, complete with blood-red tears and hair crawling with bugs. When the display was removed following complaints, a furious Dali pushed the bath through the window and was arrested.

Let’s hope that model love in Salisbury is smashing in a different way.

Windows Alive takes place across Salisbury over four Saturdays, starting 2nd September. Check the Visit Salisbury Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages for location details.