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.
Corsets, 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.
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.
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.
Thanks for reading,
Denise & Beth