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«University of Huddersfield Repository Almond, Kevin You have to suffer for Fashion Original Citation Almond, Kevin (2009) You have to suffer for ...»

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(J. Glover, Dissertation, 2008) When worn they change the shape of your body to fit certain garments or to look a certain way when wearing a garment. They are less dangerous to health than corsets which broke ribs and pushed organs about however they can lead to varicose veins.

Conclusions and Implications:

An article in British Vogue, October 2008 entitled ‘Beyond Flattering’, discussed the Autumn/Winter season’s trends for outsized proportions. The article analyses the role of the fashion designer in inventing new shape in garments.

‘Indisputably, it is a designer’s job to move proportion and silhouette forward with the times, but its true also that radical changes are not always being met with widespread appreciation.’ (Frankel 2008, p 104) The article seems to confirm the necessity for fashion to continually evolve in terms of volume and silhouette and to quote Alexander McQueen, ‘What is considered flattering and indeed beautiful in the eyes of one generation will almost necessarily be rejected by the next. (Frankel 2008, p104) The article concludes with the idea that what appears new in terms of silhouette, however radical, does eventually become the norm. This norm can also apply to changing attitudes towards the wider moral and health issues in altering the natural shape of our bodies. It can also reflect social change. The phenomenal success of Christian Dior’s New Look in 1947 was due in part to the designer’s recognition that women, who were starved of fashion and femininity in World War Two, were ready to embrace a fashion that encased them in padding and restrictive corsetry. By the mid 1960’s designers like Mary Quant discarded any restrictive underpinnings and designed clothes such as flat chested mini dresses making women look like little girls. This reflected a newly affluent youth culture. It also emphasised shifting moral attitudes as to what was acceptable in fashionable dress.

The paper has discussed how both student and professional fashion designers have distorted the natural shape of the body and has discussed this in relation to health and cultural change. Garment technology has continuously evolved in order to realise distortion of body shape in fashion and this emphasises that designers need to experiment with both traditional and evolving technology in order to realise their visions in three dimensions. Distorting the shape of the body for the purpose of fashion today includes not only the wearing of garments that alter silhouette, but also an ever increasing use of diets and cosmetic surgery. This paper doesn’t really attempt to examine surgical enhancement and distortion of the body but in order to consider the degrees of suffering followers of fashion are prepared to endure, in the future, it needs to be emphasised. Today we live in an unashamed culture that avidly promotes size zero as the beautiful ideal. In the way that nineteenth century women wore corsets and bustles, modern followers of fashion are starving themselves yet are damaging their bodies in a similar way. Fashion is never satisfied with the natural silhouette and perhaps in their search for new shape, designers will be testing their customer’s endurance of pain and discomfort by promoting surgically implanted padding into the human body. This could be moved around each season in order to conform to the prevailing modes. It is an extreme assumption but not entirely impossible.


Jouve, M-A. (1997) Balenciaga: Thames and Hudson Jouve, M_A and Demornex, J. (1989) Balenciaga: Thames and Hudson Koda, H. (2001) Extreme Beauty, The Body Transformed: New York: The Metropolitan Museum Lurie, A ( 1982) The Language of Clothes: Hamlyn Martin, R (1997) Charles James: Universe Publishing Martin, R (Editor) (1997) The St. James Fashion Encyclopedia: Visible Ink.

Mears, P (2007) Madame Gres: Fashion Institute of Technology Riberio, A (1986) Dress and Morality: Berg Schmid, R. & Trupp F. (2004) Tribal Asia, Ceremonies, Ritual and Dress: 2nd ed. United Kingdom: Thames and Hudson Ltd.

Steele, V. (1985) Fashion and Eroticism: Ideals of Feminine Beauty from the Victorian Era to the Jazz Age:

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Steele, V. (1996) Fetish, Fashion, Sex and Power: Oxford University Press, Inc Steele, V. (2001) The Corset, A Cultural History: Conde Nast Publications Inc.

Van Der Does, E.C.C. (1980) The Agony of Fashion: UK Blanford Press Ltd Wilcox, C. (2007) The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London, 1947-1957: London: V & A.

Vogue (British), October 2008, Conde Nast – Article – Frankel, F, Beyond Flattering Student Dissertation – Glover, J (2008), Body Distortion – An investigation in to why fashion demands body distortion in order to achieve a fashionable shape: University of Huddersfield Personal interview with Leslie Poole MDes (RCA), Pattern Cutter, who accompanied me to the Victoria and Albert Museum Costume Archives and provided a commentary on garments viewed.

Victoria and Albert Archives, garments viewed;

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