Fashioning the Body: An Intimate History of the Silhouette (2015)

By: Denis Bruna, ed.

This unique survey offers fascinating insights into the convoluted transformations employed by both men and women to accommodate the fickle dictates of fashion. With high design, wit, and style, Fashioning the Body tracks the evolution of these sartorial devices—from panniers, crinolines, and push-up bras to chains, zippers, and clasps—concealed beneath outer layers in order to project idealized figures. Women’s corsets constricted waists; exaggerated buttocks and hips counterbalanced jutting bust lines; and chic, aerodynamic silhouettes compressed breasts and flattened bellies. Yet masculine fashion has been no stranger to these tortuous practices. Men flaunted their virility by artificially broadening their shoulders, applying padding to their chests, and slipping codpieces over their groins.

With more than 200 beautiful illustrations—including reproductions of superb historic advertisements—Denis Bruna reveals the industry and art of these contrivances meant to entice and beguile as well as assert status and power. Contemporary haute-couture designers Thierry Mugler, Jean Paul Gaultier, Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçons, Christian Lacroix, and Vivienne Westwood are featured in this indiscreet tour of intimate fashion history.

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Page count
272 pages, 207 color + b/w illus.

Publication date
April 2015

Paper over Board

Table of contents

Table of contents

Introduction / Denis Bruna ; 14th-16th century. Medieval fashion, bodies, and transformations / Denis Bruna ; Puffed out chests and paunched bellies : the broadening of men’s bodies from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century / Denis Bruna ; The pourpoint of Charles de Blois / Maximilien Durand ; “Falsity and pretense” : stuffed codpieces / Denis Bruna ; Women’s undergarments and the submission of the body in the sixteenth century / Axel Moulinier, Sophie Vesin ; The enigma of the iron corset / Denis Bruna, Sophie Vesin ; Under the ruff / Denis Bruna —
17th-18th century. The ancien régime of the body / Michel Delon ; From the doublet to the justaucorps : a man’s silhouette in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries / Aurore Pierre ; Whalebone bodies and panniers : the mechanics of good carriage in the eighteenth century / Anne-Cécile Moheng ; Whalebone stays and corsets for children from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries / Anaïs Biernat —
19th century. The nineteenth century : from artifice to anonymity / Georges Vigarello ; The corset, essential protagonist of modern femininity / Aurore Bayle-Loudet ; Crinolines and bustles : the reign of metallic artifices / Lina María Paz ; Corsets, stomach belts, and padded calves : the masculine silhouette reconfigured / Sophie Lamotte —
20th-21st century. Contemporary undergarments / Anne Zazzo ; Brassieres, girdles, waspies and cami-panties since 1900 / Charlotte Delory ; Corsets, crinolines, and bustles in today’s fashions : drawing creative inspiration from the history of undergarments / Sophie Lemahieu ; New underwear and notions of virility in contemporary society / Shaun Cole.

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About the author

About the author

Denis Bruna is Curator of pre-19th-century fashion and textile collections at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris.

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