If this image doesn’t make you break into a grin as broad as that bustle, we don’t know what will…
This Victorian version of Kim Kardashian’s famous pose has been created for York Castle Museum to promote its new Shaping The Body exhibition – and it’s a work of genius.
The picture draws parallels between the outrageous fashions of today and those of the Victorians and earlier. Turns out our forebears were less demure than we sometimes think.
“Since Elizabethan times, with a few notable periods, women’s fashion has been obsessed with highlighting and accentuating a woman’s curves, with corsets used to shape and cinch the waist, and from around 1580, a padded roll that was tied around the hips,” said senior curator for the Shaping The Body exhibition, Ali Bodley.
However, the Regency period did not signal the end of the bum roll, with Victorian fashions taking the concept of padding the rear end to more elaborate extremes.
Prudish Victorians would not have liked using the vulgar term of ‘bum-roll’ and so it became known as a ‘bustle’.
Other fashion throwbacks
The killer dress
Here’s an example of a killer frock – literally. “Ingredients that we now know to be toxic were regularly used during the dying of fabrics or in cosmetics applied directly to the skin, but often in relatively low concentrations during each wear or application, so it is not until much later that the devastating effects would have been experienced,” said Ali.
One example of this is a stunning Victorian green gown, which will be on display in the new exhibition.
Part of the treatment process to produce its vibrant colour involved arsenic, and traces of the poison remain in the dress today – so curators wear gloves when handling it.
The Georgian Zoolander
Derek Zoolander, who recently returned to cinemas for Ben Stiller’s sequel, Zoolander 2, may have made a career out of looking really, really good looking in the most outlandish fashions of the day – but men were donning even more outrageous styles 400 years ago.
“In the 21st century, women’s fashion is more widely celebrated than men’s, but if you look back a few hundred years, it was gentlemen who used increasingly elaborate clothing to stand out from the crowd,” Ali said.
“Gentlemen at the cutting edge of fashion would be wearing higher heels and frills on their clothes than some of the women. These gentlemen were known as ‘fops’.”
York Castle Museum
Opens March 25, 2016
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