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Fashioning the body : an intimate history of the silhouette / edited by Denis Bruna.

  • Bruna, Denis
  • Books

About this work

Also known as

Mécanique des dessous. English.


This unique survey offers fascinating insights into the convoluted transformations employed by both men and women to accommodate the fickle dictates of fashion. With high design, wit, and style, Fashioning the Body tracks the evolution of these sartorial devices-from panniers, crinolines, and push-up bras to chains, zippers, and clasps-concealed beneath outer layers in order to project idealized figures. Women's corsets constricted waists; exaggerated buttocks and hips counterbalanced jutting bust lines; and chic, aerodynamic silhouettes compressed breasts and flattened bellies. Yet masculine fashion has been no stranger to these tortuous practices. Men flaunted their virility by artificially broadening their shoulders, applying padding to their chests, and slipping codpieces over their groins. With more than 200 beautiful illustrations-including reproductions of superb historic advertisements-Denis Bruna reveals the industry and art of these contrivances meant to entice and beguile as well as assert status and power. Contemporary haute-couture designers Thierry Mugler, Jean Paul Gaultier, Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garcons, Christian Lacroix, and Vivienne Westwood are featured in this indiscreet tour of intimate fashion history.


New Haven : Published for Bard Graduate Center, Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture. New York by Yale University Press, [2015]

Physical description

271 pages : chiefly illustrations ; 28 cm


Translation of: La mécanique des dessous : une histoire indiscrete de la silhouette.
Published in conjunction with the exhibition Fashioning the body : an intimate history of the silhouette, held at the Bard Graduate Center, New York, April 3 to July 26, 2015.

Bibliographic information

Includes bibliographical references and index.


Medieval fashion, bodies, and transformations -- Puffed out chests and peascod paunches : the broadening of men's bodies from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century -- The pourpoint of Charles de Blois -- "Falsity and imposture" : stuffed codpieces -- Women's undergarments and the submission of the body in the sixteenth century -- The enigma of the iron corset -- Under the ruff -- The ancien régime of the body -- From the pourpoint to the justaucorps : a man's silhouette in the seventeeth and eighteenth centuries -- Whaleboned bodies and panniers : the mechanics of good carriage in the eighteenth century -- Whaleboned bodies and corsets for children from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries : a body to shape, a being to form -- The nineteenth century : from artifice to anonymity -- The corset, essential protagonist of modern femininity -- Crinolines and bustles, the reign of metallic artifices -- Corsets, belts, and padded calves : the masculine silhouette reconfigured -- Contemporary undergarments -- Brassieres, girdles, waspies and cami-panties since 1900 : the metamorphosis of the undergarment -- Corsets, crinolines, and bustles in today's fashions : drawing creative inspiration from the history of undergarments.


  • English

Where to find it

  • Location

    History of Medicine JKN.U


    Open shelves

Permanent link



  • 9780300204278
  • 0300204272