Tres sexy? Corset is.
The Scotsman (Edinburgh, Scotland); 8/8/2001
Byline: Chrissy Iley
I once read a story about a - a man who lived for his art and spent so many years in a corset that his waist was remoulded to a diameter of 18 inches. He even dreaded going to bed because it meant he had to take off the corset that he'd painstakingly hand-stitched and hand-boned. At the time, this seemed rather bizarre.
Now, however, I'm acclimatised to the corset as a fashion object - they're absolutely everywhere for the autumn season. I'm even thinking the corset diet might be more rewarding and certainly more fun than those hideous coldbandages-mummification-instant-shrinkwraps that I've occasionally forced myself to endure because I prefer instant gratification to the long-haul tedium of the Zone diet, Hay diet, Atkins diet or daily sweatouts at the gym. The corset, after all, can do everything that yoga can do for you, but you look sexy while you're doing it. That's why it's been so unanimously embraced.
There's a corset for every mood. Dolce & Gabbana give theirs an expensively slutty, foreign prostitute look. Paul Smith has the kind of corset you wear over a shirt and with a tailored suit - very "warrior of the office". Chloe has a very delicate girlie, perhaps a little too snappable, ensemble, and even Ghost, traditionally known for fabrics that are loose and flowing, has a range of bone-affecting bodices which look like a slightly pastoral, romantic Pre-Raphaelite-type corset, but are definitely more tight than cosy.
The corset has been copied and modified by many labels this season, but you need to be careful. Beware of ones that come with zips: these are not sexy, nor are they real corsets. You're basically wearing just a too-tight frock - they don't restructure you like they're supposed to and they're not as sexy to undo. They may be easier to slip into, but are not nearly as much fun to slip out of - and they don't even look like the real thing.
But, for the mother of all corsets, you must go to Agent Provocateur. It has always sold beautiful corsets, boned, with back laces and snap-front fastenings. Click onto its website and see its all-time bestseller, the Duchess, in full flow. The models are embellished with fur, jewels, a crop to crack, and lots of girl-on-girl dominatrixy potential action. But a corset doesn't control you - it gives you control in every sense of the word.
Made of a sheeny satin that can have an almost transparent allure, the Duchess comes in black and champagne, and taking advantage of this year's corset craze, Joe Corre and Serena Rees have decided to extend its possibilities. For as little as $500 you can lace yourself into the , the Duchess to order - bejewelled with Swarvoski crystals and chains upon chains. This is definitely the corset as outerwear. Of course, Agent Provocateur can always be relied upon to have more nuances encrusted in a lingerie item, more wit, more high camp, more high sexuality.
", which has always sold well," Rees says. She talks as if the corset were a pet getting its own special collar. "You have to treat them with love. When you first buy one, you mustn't pull it too tight, You have to ease it in over time, and all our corsets are sold with instructions."
These instructions begin with the fact that you have to keep the laces loose to start with and only after a few wearing's can you tighten. "Do not pull in too much at once as this can cause irreparable damage to the corset," you are warned. Of course, it also might cause irreparable damage to your ribs but, let's face it, the fun of wearing something like this is that frisson of potential internal injury.
For the autumn, Agent Provocateur is doing a new range of boned lace corsets - at a mere $200. Just think, $200 could change the shape of your life. AP's corsets are made by a who has been in the business since 1862, although, of course, back then whalebone would have been used; it is no longer allowed, so these bones are metal.
"The most exciting thing about ," Rees says, "is seeing the woman's face when she first puts it on. She's always completely overawed and delightedly shocked and proud of her new shape. It makes everybody statuesque because you hold yourself in a different way."
Remember all that speculation about Minnie Driver's weight being tied to her emotional instability and her bad track record with the boyfriends who dumped her? Well, I can tell you she started to lose weight when she did a film called The Governess and had to wear a corset every day. The food simply wouldn't fit in her stomach as easily and maybe she trained it into shrinking. So perhaps the true beauty of the corset diet is that not only do you instantly look slimmer, but also you can't eat very much when you're in one because it's so uncomfortable. The more you wear it, the slimmer you actually get.
The other great thing about the is that it can provide that hourglass figure on a temporary basis. You can be your own shapeshifter. Lace up and step out - you will suffer from an excess of attention and have the fabulous excuse of being inspired by Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge. You see? It's not slutty, it's just fashionable. Actually, since when was it not fashionable to look like a slut?
Chrissy Iley's column, On Excess appears in Sunday Business
COPYRIGHT 2001 Scotsman Publications Ltd.