|A cage-style peplumed corset of gold-colored leather, stays and lacing, F/W, 2012-2013.|
One of the more amazing aspects of The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, now on view at the Brooklyn Museum, are the corsets on display, gorgeous creations that are so intricate and beautifully-crafted. Gaultier is, of course, most famous for the cone-shaped bra corset that he created for Madonna’s 1990 Blond Ambition World Tour—the original is on display, straight from Madge’s own closet!—but the other corsets are just as wonderful to see. He designed another for Madonna for her MDNA World Tour last year, a black leather cage corset, which was a great update on the original.
|The original corset Gaultier made for Madonna for her Blond Ambition tour.|
|Madonna, 1990, in a gold Gaultier corset in a famous photo by Jean-Baptiste Mondino.|
|Black leather cage corset worn by Madonna during her 2012 MDNA World Tour.|
|Gaultier’s sketch of the costume.|
|A row of Gaultier corsets.|
It is clear that for Gaultier, the corset has a few meanings for him—it is the height of old-world femininity. It is also a way to play with ideas about gender. It is also quite personal—the gallery text suggests that his maternal grandmother’s corsets were his first window into this structured, restrictive and rigorous garment.
|Gaultier with his maternal grandmother, 1958.|
In Gaultier’s own words:
“When I was little, I thought my grandmother was supremely elegant. She was undoubtedly very old-fashioned, but I considered her style absolutely wonderful. She was different from other people. At her home she had black crepe hats, feather aigrettes, and corsets from the early 1900s. She told me that women would drink vinegar to bring on stomach contractions and then pull the corset laces at precisely that moment to get a smaller waist. That was all food for my imagination. A single thing would start me making up a story.”
|Gaultier as a child, 1957. He looks adorably devilish!|
I can’t help thinking of Coco Chanel’s efforts to rid this garment from a woman’s wardrobe. She is probably rolling in her grave to think anyone could find a corset charming, but I can’t help it, I do.
I realize this is contradictory of me and I know I would hate wearing one (I think), but I can’t help admiring the work that went into sewing these corsets and of course I can see the appeal of the bombshell who can wear one of these—they are very sexy!
So I offer these pictures of Gaultier corsets more like works of art than realistic garments to wear. If you have any thoughts on corsets, or even shapewear (which I do not own), I’d love to hear them!
|A fan corset for a man.|
|A wheat and braided straw corset from 2006 that took 84 hours to make!|
There was an interesting article recently at The New York Times on people who are fans of corsets called “The Return of the Tight Squeeze”. Have a look if you get a chance. It says a lady whittled her waist down to 22 inches (from its original 32) by wearing a corset constantly, even in her sleep. Wow!
I wonder what Coco would make of that.
|I love the detail on this corset.|
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk is on view at Brooklyn Museum through February 25, 2014.