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Picture of the Month




Skirt Supports

Journal des Dames et des Demoiselles, Bruxelles, June 1974

Although bustles are ubiquitous in 1870s and 1880s fashion, they are rarely mentioned in journals and even more ralely depicted. I am rather happy, rtherefore, that one of my recent acquisitions depicts some examples.

We are looking at examples of the Early or First Bustle (1873-75) in contrast to the Late or Second Bustle (1881-86) and the so-called Natural Form in between. The Early Bustle silhouette is marked by high waists and huge backsides. After the crinoline, which had prevailed until about 1870, the bustle was a completely new kind of skirt support, although emphasized backsides had been in fashion before, around 1700 and again after 1770. But whereas those earlier eras had made do with bumrolls, the early 1870s had learned the use of watch spring steels from the crinoline and made good use of them. This collage shows only a small selection of the various shapes and techniques used. Since they're all from the same one-year volume, they obviously don't show a development from prototypes to mature versions, but variants that existed in parallel.

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