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Corsets: A Modern Guide Hardcover – 1 Sep 2010
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'combines gorgeous images, fascinating historical background and unique inside knowledge in this entertaining, authoritative and inspiring look at the shapewear that has shaped the world.' --plumesnoires.co.uk, November, 2010
About the Author
A graduate of the College of Marketing & Design in Dublin, Velda Lauder cut her teeth in the fashion co-ordination and display team at the department store of Brown Thomas & Company. After winning a prestigious Smirnoff Young Designer of Year award Velda joined the creative design team for premiere nightclub Ku in Ibiza. Relocating to London in 1996 she worked as a stylist for Tatler and Opera Now while designing clothing for rock stars and royalty. Her first UK collection Warrior Woman was featured at London fashion week with Wayne Hemmingway s Red or Dead label. Her design company and soho based store Pagan Metal provided the platform to launch her ground breaking corset collection Vanity in 1997 employing for the first time her unique Uber-Curve method of corset construction and tailoring. Velda Lauder has designed for the Coco De Mer Couture Collection, been commissioned for one off pieces by Karl Lagerfeld, The Victoria s Secret annual TV shows, Dita Von Teese, Courtney Love, Sarah Brightman, The Sugarbabes, promo videos for George Michael's An Easier Affair and Robbie Williams' Love Light, plus stage costumes for Pete Burns and numerous Burlesque stars including Miss Lily White and Miss Polly Rae.
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First impressions were the book was smaller than expected, but nice and chunky. There are lots of colour photos of corsets, including many by modern designers - perhaps too many as few readers will be in a position to afford couture corsets, let alone those designed over a decade ago.
Sadly the written content is not as comprehensive. In the history section, for example, there is too much on underwear such as bustles and not enough on corsets. The second half of the Nineteenth Century - in my opinion the golden age of corsetry with much innovation in product and processes - is skipped over in a paragraph or two. (And confusingly there is an advert for Swanbill corsets from 1879 whilst the text on the facing page talks of "the straight-fronted or 'swan bill' corset fashionable from 1900 to 1910": they are not the same thing.)
Whilst the pictures from modern designers are attributed, the same cannot be said of the French drawings from 1892 (La Vie Parisienne?): nor are the French captions translated. The bibliography is similarly light, omitting for example, Norah's Waugh's classic 'Corsets & Crinlines'.
One myth I'd like to dispel is that 'underwear as outerwear' is a modern concept. "The present corset... should be over the dress, like the Roman belt of old; it is quite as handsome." - Ladies' Column in the Aberdeen Weekly Journal, 19th October 1892. The idea is over a hundred years old; moreover, several period cutting books base their corset drafts on dress bodice blocks.
As another reviewer has mentioned, the text and photos read a bit too much like an advertorial for the authoress, but her claims are undermined by the final two photos, showing buckled back boning and a wavy construction line with the binding twisted in. The beading on the cover photo is not symmetrical either. By the end I am none the wiser what her "unique Uber-Curve method of corset construction and tailoring" is and why it is beneficial. Although I can understand her not giving step-by-step instructions this book is touted as coming from an 'industry insider', and I'd like to know more about her mentor Michael Garrod if not her own work. I hope other modern makers will leave a better written record for future generations.
I'd buy it again though for the final picture of Bex Paul and the wearers' descriptions of how corsets make women feel. At the end of the day it is not a lot of money and I'd like to encourage more books on this subject.
Velda Lauder is a designer not a journalist, it's somewhat missing the to point draw comparisons with works by Valerie Steele for example (a fashion historian, curator, and director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York no less). It's a real pleasure to read something from the individual perspective of a designer who's work you admire and I couldn't recommend this book more highly. Enjoy corset lovers !
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