- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: The History Press; New edition edition (24 Aug. 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0750938099
- ISBN-13: 978-0750938099
- Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 2.6 x 24.1 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 605,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Fashion and Fetishism: Corsets, Tight Lacing and Other Forms of Body-sculpture Paperback – 24 Aug 2006
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About the Author
David Kunzle is Professor of Art History at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of The Early Comic Strip, Posters of Protest and Che Guevara: Icon, Myth and Message. He is British-born and returns regularly to this country.
Top customer reviews
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.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
book to all with even a mild interest in this subject.
Received opinion among fashion historians, feminists, medical authorities, sociologists and much of the general public has long been that corsetry in general and tight-lacing in particular were both inherently oppressive of women and injurious to women's health. Kunzle (who writes from a left-wing, femininst perspective himself) thoroughly demolishes this conventional wisdom (recently expressed, for example, by Leigh Summers in her book "Bound To Please"), unearthing and discussing a significant body of evidence to demonstrate that (1) tight-lacing was always a minority interest rather than being the standard practice during the eras when corsets were standard in women's costume; (2) as opposed to simply being a matter of reducing women to a subservient position - though Kunzle acknowledges that this did occur - tight-lacing, especially in the Victorian era, was in truth often a method of sexual rebellion and liberation by both women and men; and (3) that much, indeed most, of the propaganda accusing tight-lacing of damaging women's health and bodies was exactly that, propaganda (and indeed, often poorly-researched and sometimes downright hysterical propaganda at that), written by social and religious conservatives who were alarmed by the transgressive and rebellious attitudes expressed by tight-lacing. In particular, Kunzle demolishes a lot of so-called expert medical opinion of the 19th century on the dangers of corsetry by demonstrating that those warnings were very often written by doctors who were, in fact, expressing their own prejudices rather than reporting the results of properly-conducted scientific and medical research.
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