3-D printed dress collection

I would REALLY like to get one of these 3D printed dresses for the museum collection. An Israeli designer has put out a collection and I love the innovation: http://3dprint.com/83423/danit-peleg-3d-printed-fashion/



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Hussein Chalayan 2007 transformer dresses

I rediscovered a clip from Hussein Chalayan’s 2007 collection I had forgotten about… very innovative stuff:

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“Russian Fashion Show” 1985 Wendy’s commercial

I remember when this ad aired in 1985 thinking it was the funniest ad I had ever seen. It’s still pretty funny, even though what we perceive as Russian fashion has definitely changed since Soviet days:

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As Seen In – Eleanor of Toledo’s 1562 burial gown

Eleanor of Toledo, c. 1560

Eleanor of Toledo, c. 1560

There may be a new contender for the oldest extant illustrated garment. Until now I thought it was the c. 1610 jacket of Margaret Layton, but Daniel Milford-Cottam alerted me to a possible earlier garment worn by Eleanor of Toledo in one of her last portraits that was also possibly  her burial gown.

Spanish aristocrat Eleanor of Toledo married into the Tuscan Medici family at the age of 16. The union brought blue blood into the Medici clan, money into Eleanor’s family, and produced 11 children. Ill health plagued Eleanor most of her life and in 1562 she died from Malaria at about age 40.

The recovered bodice from her tomb looking like a very possible match to the dress in her portrait

The recovered bodice from her tomb looking like a very possible match to the dress in her portrait

In the 19th century her tomb was opened and body exhumed. The funereal dress she had been buried in was removed and is now kept in the Pitti Palace in Florence (the home bought by Eleanor and Cosimo Medici in 1549 that became the residence of the ruling families of Tuscany.) The sleeveless dress has metallic embroidery that seems to resemble what can be seen of the same bodice in one of her last portraits.

There is an interesting article that talks more about Eleanor of Toledo’s portraits, gowns and makes the initial supposition that the burial garment may be the one shown in her portrait.

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1876 Canadian book railing against corsetry


Advertisement for ‘Hutch’ a medicine marketed to women with corset-related stomach pains, Toronto Star, January 4, 1901

I am not a follower of the Victorian hysteria over corsetry. When worn responsibly, corsets simply smoothed the figure, slightly slimmed the waist and supported the breasts – however it is the vanity of the wearer that turned these reasonable undergarments into objects of torture. Most of the Victorian anti-corsetry books and articles I have read are by unknown writers using hyperbolic arguments. Although their usual promotion for rational dress is admirable, their arguments rely upon religious reasoning and medical quackery, exaggerated facts and first-hand accounts presented without evidence. Regardless, these documents can be amusing reads and they express a  concern many had over the wearing of corsets and the problem with tight-lacing. Here is a collection of essays I just discovered is available online that I had never heard of: Dress and Health: How to be Strong – A Book for Ladies, published in Montreal in 1876.

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MUM – an odd museum

Kotex advert from 1921 - the first year the product was on the market

Kotex advertisement from 1921 – the first year the product was on the market

I came across the MUM museum by accident – aka The Museum of Menstruation. Every once in a while a donation of vintage underwear will come into the FHM collection and there will be an elastic belt, or an odd looking pair of panties and it takes a couple of seconds before I remember what these garments are.

I didn’t think there was that much to say on the topic of the history of menstruation, but one man in Washington D.C. thinks there is. He comes across as odd, like his collection, but he is as passionate about his collection of advertisements and odd undergarments as any collector. For more information on the topic than you thought were possible here is the museum’s website..

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Too much Active Wear…

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As Seen In – Catalina Gingerbread Man Swimsuit

I had this bookmarked too long on Etsy – it sold before I could buy it, but I still have the pics. Gingerbread man print cotton swimsuit from Catalina, 1955:

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Fashion in Song – Under My Merry Widow Hat 1908


Front cover of the sheet music for Under My Merry Widow Hat, 1908

Published in 1908, this popular song is making reference to the huge brimmed hats, usually trimmed with enormous ostrich plumes, that became popular in 1907-1908 and were known as Merry Widows (aka Picture hats/ Gainsboroughs.) The term for the hat came from the  London stage play The Merry Widow – an English adaptation of the operetta Die lustige Witwe by Franz Lehar. The lead character, originally played by actress Lily Elsie in the London production, wore enormous hats designed by the English designer Lucile. During the five year fashion for enormous hats the Merry Widow became a popular subject for cartoons, and at least one song.



Comic postcard depicting an exaggerated Merry Widow hat, c. 1908.

I couldn’t find any recording of the music or song being performed – likely due to the racial slur in the first stanza, so here are the lyrics:

Susie and Billy by the light of the moon, were cooing,

Bill sang a song about an African coon,

He thought it was cute wooing;

He murmured to Susie, “Think how happy we’d be,

down in the jungle ‘neath a bamboo tree,

When we go a spooning Mister Moon won’t see,

Susie replied “not me –


Cause I need no bamboo tree, dear, to shelter me, dear from peeping eyes

I’m sure there is no moon dear can see its spoon up in the skies

I really can’t see that jungle, But you can build me a cosy flat,

Then I’ll tell you Billy come and spoon with me, under my Merry Widow Hat”


Promise me Billy this old African talk won’t last much longer,

If you would like to win my heart in a walk certainly you’ll speak stronger;

We’ll do no more rambling in an old everglade

My Merry Widow keeps me in the shade,

A nice little Auto for our Sunday parade, That’s just about my style –


Cause I need no bamboo tree, dear, to shelter me, dear from peeping eyes

I’m sure there is no moon dear can see its spoon up in the skies

I really can’t see that jungle, But you can build me a cosy flat,

Then I’ll tell you Billy come and spoon with me, under my Merry Widow Hat”

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Who killed the corset?

Robe-Sylphide, 1899

Robe-Sylphide, 1899

This interesting article brings a new contender forward as a possible leader for the abolishment of corsetry in the early 1900s – Mme Margaine-Lacroix. As early as 1899 she was producing what she called the ‘robe-sylphide’. Advertised as being “ sans corset” (without corset) or “supprimant le corset” (abolishing the corset), her silk jersey gowns were noted for their ability to slim the figure while dispensing with the need for under-garments. Corsetless gowns had become more popular by this time as a rational dress reform movement grew. Emilie Floge and Liberty of London were both creating artistic gowns for women committed to freedom of movement at home, even Sears catalogues were selling wrappers – corset-less day dresses suitable for at-home wear.

Margaine-Lacroix produced her robes-sylphide from knitted silk, aka jersey. She also made corset-sylphide – a corset of silk jersey with minimal boning to idealize the figure. In an interview in 1908 she explained her design philosophy: “I have been patiently at work for years, educating the public to what women’s dresses really should be …only two garments cover the body – there is first a tight elastic silk jersey ….the outer garment is made to serve as its own corset, the bodice being strengthened with a little whalebone, not enough however to destroy its suppleness.”


Silk jersey without a corset

French Actress Marcelle Yrven caused a sensation in the summer of 1908 when she appeared on stage in a Margaine-Lacroix robe-sylphide. It was reported that “the dress seemed glued to her body, and all Parisiennes worthy of the name wished to see it.” except that admirers were  banned from entering her dressing room, as “the charming artiste had decided to wear her dress without any underwear.”

Co-inciding with the robe-sylphide was the Directoire revival – a high-waisted fashion that focussed less on a small waist and more on the overall slender curves of the torso topped by enormous hairstyles and hats. This became a silhouette championed by designers like Vionnet and Lucile. Soon thereafter, an exotic Oriental influence promoted by Paul Poiret’s costuming for the Ballets Russes brought stronger colours and an even more slender silhouette to fashion. Did anyone single-handely abolish the corset? I don’t think so — it was a case of ‘Air du Temps’ — time for a change.

There are several great articles and books that outline many of the players in the death of the corset. This one by Randy Bigham Young brings up the many characters involved in the death of the corset. Daniel Milford-Cottam also looks at people like Margaine-Lacroix in his book Edwardian Fashion, who were pushing for new ways of defining the female form at the turn of the century. It’s never a simple story of one person changing the world…

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