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on 9 September 2009
This book is a very detailed analysis of the forms of body sculpture, with both historical and contemporary references. However, if you are looking for visual references (if you are a corset maker, for example) these are limited to small black and white photos which are not particularly helpful. If you are a student wishing to study the subject in depth (for a thesis, for example), this would be a very useful point of reference and I would recommend the book on that basis.
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on 5 June 2011
David Kunzle is the doyen of corset-related academic research and analysis. To be honest, after 40 years of interest and publication in the subject, he does not adopt a high academic stance and is all the more readable as a result. His recourse to psychology is commonsensical and not at all highfalutin. His own excitement with corseting and other forms of body modification are quite apparent. Just because he is an academic, with a good publication record in various fields, that does not mean he tries to hide his own fascination; his fixation even.

This is the second edition of a text which I read first in about 1991. It is not very different although it includes more annexes and notes. His use of contemporary personal corseting histories is one of the fascinations of the book, although it is not very well illustrated in support. Adequately, but not very.

It would have been easy to make this text salacious and scandalous, to increase sales. But Kunzle did not do that. You will not find much about Dita von Teese, Lady Gaga, Madonna or other high celeb corset-wearers. However, you will find many accounts of figure training and body modification by ordinary women [and a few men] through their obsessional wearing of tightlaced corsets, often 24/7. One or two of the accounts, maybe more, are overtly erotic and add a little frisson to the generally explanatory and detached approach he tries to adopt; not always successfully, thankfully.

As you would expect from his academic title, there is treatment also of foundation fashions from about 1900 to the late 1960, when they practically disappeared. He presents corsetry as a cyclical fashion form, which is coming back into vogue; but was always in style at the outer fringes of erotic couture.

Interesting book; well written; could do with more illustrations to back up the human stories; but worth buying and reading.
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on 2 March 2010
Great book for anyone interested in Corsetry. The discussions are very interesting and non-biased as I feel the author tries to express different views on what may be considered either an oppression of female sexuality but also a highly erotic garment at the same time. There are also chapters on high heel fetishism. I am not studying fashion but am just generally interested in history and corsetry in particular. I am currently finding this book easy to read, fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable!!
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