Sunday, 6 April 2014

Metal Corset: Wallace Collection, London

I have always been fascinated with the concept of the corset as armour. For me this is both a physical and psychological armour, to both hide and reveal my body.

Interestingly there are many examples of metal corsets which, arguably could also be considered armour, but definitely would have had a manipulative effect upon the body. The week before last I went to see a beautiful metal corset which is owned by the Wallace Collection in London.

Isn't she beautiful?
Copyright: The Wallace Collection

  • Corset
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • France
  • c. 1640
  • Steel
  • Diameter: 56.7 cm, waist
    Weight: 1.54 kg
  • A230
European Armoury III 

It was a huge treat for me to get up close and personal with this corset after admiring it from behind glass on many occasion.  It was great to speculate upon this corsets origins, purpose and alterations with the curator of Arms and Armour Dr Tobias Capwell FSA and conservator Francesca Levy, and as always many more questions were raised than could be answered due to the little information provided.

For my part I approached the corset from a constructors point of view, and being unaccustomed to the technical knowledge of working with metal, I am particularly fascinated by the ornate cut out scroll work and the overall shape and it's many vast alterations.

I think it's really interesting to see the process of corset making, and how the intentions of the designer (and client) fully inform the design, pattern cutting right from the garments inception.
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