PEEP THIS… Aspic: A case study

It’s November, Thanksgiving eve fast approaches.  Visions of stuffing, cranberry sauce and of course golden brown turkey or Tofurkey precede visions of sugar plums.   As we anticipate ourfavorite foods there are a host of foods we would prefer not to grace our plates.  Top of the list for me…Aspic aka “food glue”.   Peruse the array of fruit, vegetables and meat chunks floating…still…in a gelatinous mold.  The New York Times Magazine ‘Lost Foods’ feature (11/1/15) dressed it up, made it look oh so pretty and festive, but a lost food it shall remain.

Today three consistencies of Aspic are served: delicate, sliceable and inedible aka “food prop”.  Hmm…I understand Aspic was born centuries ago by peasants whose mission was survival.  Food waste of any kind is a travesty.  But I will continue to say, “…no thank you and please pass the Mac & Cheese!”

NYT mag cover Lost Foods

Multiple pictures of food item Aspic
Multiple pictures of food item Aspic
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Magazine of the Week

Hi, everybody!

This week’s magazine is an oldie but a goodie!


Before Amy Shumer, Tina Fey,  or Margaret Cho, before Bust, and “Sex and the City”, there was Helen Gurley Brown, who was single and loved it.  She wasn’t the only reason that single womanhood switched from meaning “pitied” to meaning “fabulous”, but she sure helped the cause along.  Cosmopolitan was her mouthpiece for this campaign.  The library has a complete run from 1980, and a few random issues from the 1970s.

Cosmopolitan record in StyleCat

Come take a look!

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Needles found: one last corset book


But wait!  There’s one more!

A few weeks ago, Denise and I posted a “Needles in the Stacks” which reviewed the library’s books about making corsets.  When I combed StyleCat, there was one more book that looked like it belonged with this group.  When we were writing, however, it was checked out of the library.  It has come back now, so I am adding one last review to that earlier post.

lauder corsetsCorsets, A Modern Guide, by Velda Lauder

5th floor Main stacks GT 2075 .L383

This is a small-format book, suggesting that it’s aimed at the gift market, or at fans of the author.  Like many memoirs, it rambles idiosyncratically and sometimes off the path.

lauder red rose
Lauder’s work: black silk and red lace underbust corset, sales photo

The best things about this book are the history of modern corsetry presented here (modern defined as post-WWII, with a short nod to the development of the bra, late 19th century) ; The other is the author’s retelling of London scenes from the mid-1970s onward.

Lauder talks about Vivienne Westwood’s influence, the effects of new materials on styling, the rise of the new burlesque, the distinction between corset wearing (for support and style) and tightlacing (a fetish).  She addresses the absorption of the corset into punk, then goth, then the fetish worlds.  She also talks about Mr. Pearl, the world’s best known corsetier, Gaultier’s and Mugler’s creative use of corset-like shaping, and their successors.  The section on recent design and unexpected materials is quite good.  The last section, about actually fitting and wearing a corset,  seems out of place in a history/memoir, but the author is, afterall, a corset entrepreneur first and foremost.

The author’s history of pre-corseted wear is where this book runs into trouble.  While she includes some  contemporary quotes, she also repeats a lot of old, incorrect anecdotes.  Several times she also interprets Victorian images as historic primary sources, arriving at mistaken conclusions.

kylie in gaultier
Gaultier corset for Kylie Minogue show. Lauder discusses his importance to the corset market.

I personally liked the gossipy parts of this book best.  She includes testimonials from  lots of her clients, thus providing insiders’ views to the corseting craze of the 80s-00s.  Denise’s favorite thing about it was the wealth of color images.  For those, we recommend you take a look at this book.

Ms. Lauder died suddenly in 2013 at the age of 49.

Memories of Velda Lauder’s business

A moving fan tribute to Lauder


Thanks for reading,

Denise & Beth

Denise n Beth







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