This weeny image does not portray the grand poufy-ness of Junya Watanabe's ruff on the cover of Extreme Beauty: The Body Transformed.
'Over time and across cultures, shifting concepts of beauty have given rise to extraordinary fashions that constrict, pad, minimise oe exaggerate various zones of the body.' This book accompanied a 2001 exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and 'both discusses and displays an array of extreme fashion practices, from the bound feet of aristocratic Manchu women, to the tea tray supporting bustle of an 1880s French visiting dress.'
The zones of the body which are the focus of this book are neck and shoulders, chest, waist, hips and feet, and I love the obvious way contemporary designers have plundered or referenced the practices of many cultures - it all comes around again and again.
I have been particularly fascinated by the way the shape of the bosom has changed over the decades, from the monobosom as favoured by women of the 1900s, then the bandeau binding of the 1920s flapper, to the 'lift and separate' phenomenon of the 1950s, the burn-your-bra of the 1960s and 70s, and now to the current style of 'squish them together and push them up'.
Get ready for brass neck-elongators, or Venetian style chopines - oh hang on, those chopines are now called platform shoes!