The Victoria and Albert Museum is the epitome of British refinement and decorum. Here, they present a free online educational seminar in corsetry, complete with photographs of corsets, bustles, and crinolines from their collection.
“No other garment in Western history has assumed such political, social, and sexual significance. What is it about the corset? A mere undergarment, designed to enhance the female figure, has become an icon of all that fascinates about the ambiguous sexual codes of the Victorian era. Was wearing corsets primarily about sexual empowerment or restrictive chastisement? Could the corset explain common female maladies of the Victorian era, from fainting fits to miscarriage? How great was the suffering, for how small a waist? Lucy Johnston, curator at the Fashion Department of The Victoria and Albert Museum, takes us through the history of the corset, from the ascension of Queen Victoria through the first decade of the twentieth century. Most of us are not aware of the many different phases, shapes and fabrics of the corset, as well as the technological innovation involved. Suzanne Lussier, also of the (V & A Museum ) Fashion Department, sees the corset through to contemporary fashion, to reveal how our obsession with the corset has persisted and evolved to incorporate modern sexual and aesthetic tastes.”