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“Coiled Corset,” Shaun Leane for Alexander McQueen, Fall/Winter 1999

Kate Bethune

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

The “Coiled Corset” is an example of radical body adornment made by jeweler Shaun Leane for fashion designer Alexander McQueen’s collection “The Overlook” (fall/winter 1999). Leane, who originally trained as a jeweler and goldsmith, first worked with McQueen in 1995, when he made silver watch chains for his “Highland Rape” collection (fall/winter 1995). His creative collaborations with McQueen soon propelled him to work with new materials and on a much larger scale to create elaborate body sculpt

Fashion 1970s–2000s

Colleen Hill

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

In London, the Victoria and Albert Museum’s 1971 exhibition “Fashion: An Anthology by Cecil Beaton” attracted more than 90,000 visitors, making it one of the most well attended shows in the museum’s history. While Beaton acquired examples of historical dress from some of Britain’s most fashionable women, he placed particular emphasis on recent fashion—a largely unprecedented idea. Also important was the exhibition’s experimental installation, created in part by professional store window dressers

Chanel Haute Couture, Karl Lagerfeld, Fall/Winter 1991

Michelle Honig

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

This collection is an example of what Bernadine Morris at the New York Times termed “the new age of haute couture,” where couture was about exploring directional, fashion-forward concepts instead of just creating opulent clothing. Presented at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Lagerfeld subverted stiff, prom-dressy tulle by molding it into gaucho pants, puffy parkas, and bubble dresses. Atypical fabrics like cellophane and plastic were used on classic tweed jackets. He also introduce

Corset, Thierry Mugler, ca.1996

Amanda M. B. Pajak

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

Fashion and perfume designer Thierry Mugler, born in Strasbourg, France on 21 December 1948, was trained at the Strasbourg School of Decorative Arts and came to critical prominence in the early 1970s as a freelance designer working for a variety of fashion houses in Paris, Milan, London, and Barcelona. In 1978 he opened his first Paris boutique at the Place des Victoires. During the 1990s, a trend celebrating the brazen display of lingerie as outerwear was popularized by multiple designers, inclu

Mugler

Laura Snelgrove

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Designer Biography

Dress Reform

Patricia A. Cunningham

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. The United States and Canada 2010

Encyclopedia entry

Throughout the nineteenth century and in the early decades of the twentieth century, the basic silhouette of women’s dress in the United States went through many changes. Many people accepted this ever-changing succession of fashions as a natural phenomenon, an inevitable outward expression of progress; fashion was a sign of modernity. The changing styles of dress and its silhouette were largely dependent on various undergarments—corsets, petticoats, crinolines, bustles, and other supporting devi

Nineteenth-Century Medical Views on Dress

Margaret Deppe

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Global Perspectives 2010

Encyclopedia entry

Much attention has been given to the social context of clothing in the past as dress and fashion phenomena are critical indicators concerning the economic, political and ideological components of a given society. In England and North America in the nineteenth century, the tight lacing of ladies’ corsets was a function of clothing fashion as well as a fashion in morality and an indicator of social and economic status. Physicians joined dress reformers in repeatedly issuing warnings against tight l

Body and Dress

Angela Durante and Jenny Ellison

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. The United States and Canada 2010

Encyclopedia entry

All human cultures engage in some form of dress and adornment. Although our bodies and the items we put on them might appear to be separate, they in fact have a great deal in common and are considerably intertwined. A dressed body represents a complex set of negotiations between an individual, the fashion system, and the social context in which they exist. Codes of dress set parameters but do not entirely determine how individuals dress. The body and dress are mutually constitutive—dress adds soc

Underwear

Grace Evans

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. West Europe 2010

Encyclopedia entry

The fashionable silhouette has gone through bewildering changes during the last two hundred years, and these would not have been possible without the shapes created beneath. Underwear and outerwear progressed in tandem. Underwear designers responded to prevailing styles of fashionable dress, and fashion designers built and relied upon the capabilities of structural underpinnings as they developed. These changes were, in turn, influenced by key social, economic, and technological developments, whi

Health

Jane Farrell-Beck

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. The United States and Canada 2010

Encyclopedia entry

In most environments on Earth, clothing provides needed protection from the elements and other hazards. Yet over the past two centuries, dress has been vilified as the source of disease and death or lauded as a device for improving health and physical vigor. Writers have often directed their prescriptions and proscriptions toward women’s dress, but they also critiqued men’s and children’s apparel. An early health concern was problems and solutions connected to microbes and dermatological hazards,

Tight-Lacing

Valerie Steele

Source: The Berg Companion to Fashion 2010

Encyclopedia entry

Corset

Valerie Steele and Colleen Gau

Source: The Berg Companion to Fashion 2010

Encyclopedia entry

Explore
Invisible Clothing

Philippe Perrot

Source: Classic and Modern Writings on Fashion 2nd Edition 2009

Book chapter

Many maladies are caused by … corsets. Thin bodies, narrow shoulders. Out of four two are bones of some promise; one, bones which promise nothing; a fourth go to Nice with the consumption; another fourth will at twenty-six drag out six days of the seven in an invalid's chair.

The Exquisite Slave: The Role of Clothes in the Making of the Victorian Woman

Helene E. Roberts

Source: Classic and Modern Writings on Fashion 2nd Edition 2009

Book chapter

I went and ordered a pair of stays, made very strong and filled with stiff bone, measuring only fourteen inches round the waist. These, with the assistance of my maid, I put on, and managed to lace my waist to eighteen inches. At night I slept in my corset without loosing the lace in the least. The next day my maid got my waist to seventeen inches, and so on, an inch every day, until she got them to meet. I wore them regularly without ever taking them off, having them tightened afresh every day,

Breasts and Waist

Susan J. Vincent

Source: The Anatomy of Fashion. Dressing the Body from the Renaissance to Today 2009

Book chapter

Plotting the whereabouts of the waist on a map of the body is a surprisingly tricky undertaking. Like a fashion version of pin the tail on the donkey, the waist has ended up in unexpected places. Drifting up and down the torso as decade has followed decade, its location—particularly, but not exclusively, on women—has altered with a ready adaptability: as fashions change, the waist decamps and wanders off in search of a new, albeit temporary, residence. In Anthropometamorphosis, a seventeenth-cent

‘Elegance, Comfort, Durability!’ Class, Contours, and Corsetry

Leigh Summers

Source: Bound to Please. A History of the Victorian Corset 2001

Book chapter

an excellent tournure [could] be had for so little money, that even one’s maid-servants [could] walk into any corsetmakers and buy a figure, fit for a lady of the highest respectability, for a mere trifle.W.Mayhew (ed.), The Greatest Plague of Life or the Adventures of A Lady in Search of a Good Servant by one who has been ‘almost worried to death’, David Bogue, London, 1847, p. 86.

Corsetry and Invisibility of Maternal Body

Leigh Summers

Source: Bound to Please. A History of the Victorian Corset 2001

Book chapter

One of the strongest reasons for the adoption of the corset, though it is not commonly avowed, is the belief that it conduces beauty and symmetry of figure. Slender forms are usually praised, and chiefly because they are associated with the litheness and undeveloped graces of youth.Gould-WoolsonAbba, Dress Reform: A Series of Lectures Delivered in Boston, On Dress As It Affects The Health of Women, Robert Brothers, Boston, 1874, p. 208.

The Child, the Corset, and the Construction of Female Sexuality

Leigh Summers

Source: Bound to Please. A History of the Victorian Corset 2001

Book chapter

endured sullenly the row that ensued when my soft-shelled condition was discovered; was forcibly re-corseted; and as soon as possible went away and took them off again. One of my governesses used to weep over my wickedness in this respect. I had a bad figure and to me they were instruments of torture; they prevented me from breathing, and dug deep holes into my softer parts on every side. I am sure no hair shirt could have been worse to me.Ibid. G. Raverat, Period Piece, Faber & Faber, London, 19

Corsetry and the Reality of ‘Female Complaints’

Leigh Summers

Source: Bound to Please. A History of the Victorian Corset 2001

Book chapter

many volumes had been written on the subject of tight lacing [and though it had been] howled about from platforms and in all the virtuous magazines . . . the fact is the woman who affects loose garments is lazy and violates all the rules of good dressing . . . Nature ‘demands’ that women should have small waists, and the misery and harm . . . inflicted by the over use of corsets is only a blind, ignorant obedience to an instinct, which properly directed is graceful and natural.Dr Hunt, cited in M

Breathless with Anticipation: Romance, Morbidity and the Corset

Leigh Summers

Source: Bound to Please. A History of the Victorian Corset 2001

Book chapter

a woman true as Death. A woman, upon whose first real lie, would be tenderly chloroformed into a better world, where she could have an angel for a governess, and feed on strange fruits which . . . make her all over again, even to her bones and marrow.O.W.Holmes, The Autocrat of The Breakfast Table: Every Man His Own Boswell, Ward Lock, London, 1865, p. 243.

Not in That Corset: Gender, Gymnastics, and the Cultivation of the Late Nineteenth-Century Female Body

Leigh Summers

Source: Bound to Please. A History of the Victorian Corset 2001

Book chapter

Burn the corsets! . . . No, nor do you save the whalebones, you will never need whalebones again. Make a bonfire of the cruel steels that have lorded it over your thorax and abdomen for so many years and heave a sigh of relief, for your emancipation I assure you, from this moment has begun.Ibid. Phelps, What To Wear?, Sampson, Low, et al., London, 1874, p. 66.

Corsetry, Advertising, and Multiple Readings of the Nineteenth-Century Female Body

Leigh Summers

Source: Bound to Please. A History of the Victorian Corset 2001

Book chapter

in their traditional exhibitionist way women are simultaneously looked at and displayed, with their appearance coded for a strong visual and erotic impact so that they can be said to connote to-be-looked-at-ness.L.Mulvey, Visual and Other Pleasures, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1989, p. 19.

Conclusion

Leigh Summers

Source: Bound to Please. A History of the Victorian Corset 2001

Book chapter

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