There have been many famous French couturiers whose demands that womankind will fit their styles encouraged all manner of corsetry, however possibly the most famous example was Dior. His collection of clothes and gowns in 1947 shouted to the world "the war is over; the waist is back", and Dior's models wore girdles and corsets (designed by Dior) in order to fit this new style. Naturally, the rest of the world, who could afford it, simply had to follow.

When we speak of the French, we automatically think of elegance. Who else could produce such a garment as the one on the right (http://madefla.50g.com/expos.htm). This girdle is on display at Le musée du Jacquard à Roubaix, in France.

Possibly one of the most elegant of all girdle photographs

The Dior girdle on the left from the early 1950's was pure elegance in satin, and sufficiently strong (as the French knew how to manufacture) to produce the narrow waist demanded by Dior's and, by now, his rivals' creations. The style, of course, worked its way down to the High Street (as it must if fashion is to remain profitable) and companies like Marks and Spencer followed the style with their sturdy, yet beautiful, all satin elastic girdles of the 1960's. (The M&S girdle has been shown in negative for comparison with the Dior corset on the left). Patently less elegant than the stunning Dior creation, the M&S girdles put waists on the masses, and were so well constructed that many survive today.



The girdle (above left) is a 1970's Dior that demonstrates the elegant frippery of these garments. The ruffle around the bottom edge, the mandatory satin flashes on the suspenders, and the charming lace details suggest a girdle for a truly special occasion. The 'vestigial lacing' blatantly added on the front is a typical throwback to the days of the laced corset. On the right is a French girdle (1978) from the high street end of the social spectrum, yet, in its rather more functional way, it shares those essential feminine qualities. Regard the minute scalloped lace trim on the top and bottom edges, again the satin flashes, and the satin detailing on the adjustable hip control. Laced and strapped, this is quite a piece of engineering, yet every chance is taken to remind the wearer (and the observer) that the French have style.

Notice that the model on the right is so skinny that her hip bones protrude, nevertheless, this is what she might well wear to a posh function in the 1950s. They don't make them like that any more!