Victorian fashion - Essay Example

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The term "Victorian fashion" refers to fashion in clothing in the Victorian era, or the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901). Methods of clothing production and distribution varied enormously over the course of Victoria's long reign. In 1837, cloth was manufactured (in the mill towns of northern England, Scotland, and Ireland) but clothing was generally custom-made by seamstresses, milliners, tailors, hatters, glovers, corsetieres, and many other specialised trades people, who served a local clientele in small shops…
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The most common use of corsets is to slim the body and make it conform to a fashionable silhouette. For women this most frequently emphasises a curvy figure, by reducing the waist, and thereby exaggerating the bust and hips. However, in some periods, corsets have been worn to achieve a tubular straight-up-and-down shape, which involves minimising the bust and hips.
The corset fell from fashion in the 1920s in Europe and America, replaced by girdles and elastic brassieres, but survived as an article of costume. Originally an item of lingerie, the corset has become a popular item of outerwear in the fetish, BDSM and Goth subcultures.
In the fetish and BDSM literature, there is often much emphasis on tightlacing. In this case, the corset may still be underwear rather than outerwear. Another angle is the wearing of a corset while having an enema; the theory is that the corset prevents the belly distending, enhancing the effects of the enema. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corset)
There was a brief revival of the corset in the late 1940s and early 1950s, in the form of the waist cincher. This was used to give the hourglass figure dictated by Christian Dior's 'New Look'. However, use of the waist cincher was restricted to haute couture, and most women continued to use girdles. This revival was brief, as the New Look gave way to a less dramatically-shaped silhouette. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corset)
Since the late 1980s, the corset has experienced periodic revivals, which have usually originated in haute couture and which have occasionally trickled through to mainstream fashion. These revivals focus on the corset as an item of outerwear rather than underwear. The strongest of these revivals was seen in the Autumn 2001 fashion collections and coincided with the release of the film Moulin Rouge, the costumes for which featured many corsets.
The majority of garments sold as corsets during these recent revivals cannot really be counted as corsets at all. While they often feature lacing and boning, and generally mimic a historical style of corset, they have very little effect on the shape of the wearer's body.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corset)
Chapter 1
The analysis of the physical appearance, function and relevance of the Victorian Corset
As the nineteenth century unfolded, the corset and female sexuality became inextricably entwined, a process which reached its apogee in the 1890s with the emergence of a specific pornographic genre concerned with sadomasochistic tight lacing. The increased sexualisation of the occupant, the garment, and the erotic conflation of both object and woman, was a slow and irregular process that took decades to complete, but was successful none the less. By the 1880s the pubescent child, the maid, the young woman, the matron, the grandmother, the prostitute, and the subject of the pornographer alike were marked ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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