Ivy Leaf's Diary
Wishing all our Readers a Happy New Year
Another year begins and what will it bring? Another calendar is a possibility but in some ways I think we have exhausted the possibilities here. However, one reader suggested that we create the missing 2011 edition. As somebody famous once said "There's nothing less saleable than an out of date calendar", but if that calendar contained some of the best and unused pictures from the last eight years and reduced the dates to two strips down the side of the page, perhaps it might sell. As you can see from the pictures on the right, the idea of this calendar has been in our minds for some time.
As always we will, thanks to our readers, pass on what snippets of information they share from time to time. Work on the book will probably progress in fits and starts as it did last year, but we took the opportunity when Victoria modelled for the calendar to take some pictures of her wearing elements of the collection (right).
Our fleeting contact with Lyn Locke last year was a sad reminder of what we missed when Lyn and Mike ran the Garters & Lace events.
Here is a curiosity
that I came across recently. I read the following sentence in a novel:
"She was about fifty, overweight and corseted, with the manner of a
headmistress." Not an unusual sentence until you realise that the book
was written in 1996. I suspect that the author implied that the woman's
shape was obviously the result of firm undergarments, possibly of the sort
It reminds me of the
following excerpt: "I was expecting
someone about sixty with tinted hair, an enamelled face, tight corsets, like a sort
of toughened up Queen Victoria." This is a quote from John Wyndam's
book, 'The Trouble with Lichen'. In this case, however, the book was
published in 1960 when some older women certainly did wear corsets.
It reminds me of the following excerpt: "I was expecting someone about sixty with tinted hair, an enamelled face, tight corsets, like a sort of toughened up Queen Victoria." This is a quote from John Wyndam's book, 'The Trouble with Lichen'. In this case, however, the book was published in 1960 when some older women certainly did wear corsets.
An Italian reader kindly sent us a link recently to an excellent site www.ellicorsetteria.it that still produces traditional girdles from its 'Linea Alta Compressione' (High Compression Line - right). It is heartening to know that today, as always, there are Italian women who take care and pride in their dressing and appearance. The panty-girdle illustrated is a good attempt: the shiny nylon front panel harks back to the days of real satin panels, there is a zipper and decent boning. Well done the Italians. My husband, ever the car enthusiast, commented that 'Alta Compressione' might be a suitable name for Alfa Romeo's latest offering, the Guilia. He went on in this theme "The Alfa Romeo Guilia Alta Compressione driven by an immaculate and expensively attired Italian beauty, very shapely of course thanks to her Ellicorsetteria underpinnings. Like her car, she is very stylish, very fast, but possibly a tad unreliable. She would not turn up on time." My husband adds that the motoring press are very fond of Alfa's new offering; the car that is, not the imaginary woman.
Other Italian sites with many bras, girdles, corselettes and panty-girdles are Venus Corsetteria, Iber Corsetteria (est.1890), Every, Alba and Ghifer Corsetterias. The Alba for Fashion website is particularly stylish (left); how very Italian.
We are currently receiving a large volume of data on Italian foundation garments both modern and vintage. We have created a new page, Modern Italian Foundation Garments, to hold the plethora of images whilst traditional foundation garments are still retained on a greatly expanded and revised Italian page.
We must apologise for the lack of recent updates, however, we have been indulging in the retired persons' privilege of travelling to warmer climes during the northern hemisphere winter. Tomorrow we will take the 14 and a half hour, long-haul flight back to Britain and begin the task of catching up with 'normal' life, updating the web-site and a hundred and one other tasks, the absence of which make holidays so enjoyable - up to a point.
A few small items of interest I read in a book published in 1954 by Molly Lefebure 'Murder on the Home Front'. This is a true account of a secretary who worked for a pathologist during the war and she comments:
I could never get them [detectives] to appreciate the difference between a corset and a roll-on. But perhaps it didn't really matter."
"But my missus, she's always last, she takes a long time to dress. You see, she wears one of these ;ere abominable belts and it takes quite some time to put on." By 'abominable belt I realised he meant an abdominal belt. But, when all is said and done, abominable is, I should think, a pretty good name for them. This describes preparations to get into the garden air raid shelter. It is interesting to note that with bombs about to drop, the lady still takes time to get into her corsets. A similar episode is recounted in Gerald Durrell's excellent book 'My Family and Other Animals' (1956) where their house in Greece catches fire and they flee the building, his mother with her corsets fastened over her nightie. If you have worn corsets all your life, it is extremely uncomfortable to perambulate without them, bombs and fire notwithstanding.
In response to an examination question about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, a student writes: "Many a night-watchmen has come to an untimely end whilst sitting in his hut gazing pensively at a red hot brassiere."
We have been in correspondence with a lady from Chile regarding the provenance of an 'antique' corset. It is labelled 'GROSS SUPPORT'. This is a trade name, not a description of the unfortunate wearer. I have reproduced our conversation together with the photographs that she sent of the corset in question. I can find no details regarding Gross Supports other than a short piece I wrote years ago. It appears to be an Australian brand judging by the label. Can anybody help?
Just a little curiosity. We recently came across a Spirella advertisement in the form of a calendar for 1939. By chance, the days and dates are the same as for 2017.
An interesting picture that reveals the structure underneath some of the 1960s Dioresque ball gowns, reminded me years ago of a St. John's Ambulance nurse who was called to attend a Royal garden party. She was amazed at the contrast between the floating silks and chiffons of the costumes with the rigid bones and brocading of their underwear that had caused some of the ladies to feel 'poorly' in the heat and stress of the gathering. We recounted a similar tale elsewhere.
The erudite Roger K has recently delivered his usual list of omissions and errors for which we are always very grateful. We do make mistakes because we are human, however, in cyber-space some little gremlin seems to remove pictures at random. Please let us know if pictures are missing. Roger alerted us to an excellent YouTube video from Lucy's Corsetry. If you want to buy a corset, you should look at Lucy's comprehensive and interactive guide.
From time to time, we come across one of our web pages that has not caught our attention for a number of years. The page on weddings as seen from the Spirella point-of-view is a case in point. It used to have a neat feature where you had to guess what the women in the wedding photographs were wearing underneath their fancy clothes. By clicking on the picture, an answer would be revealed. Alas, no more. Whatever 'improvement' to our computer that Microsoft has deemed necessary in the last few years has rendered this feature (dynamic HTML so my husband tells me) obsolete. No wonder the threat of an 'upgrade' or a 'new operating system' brings strong men close to tears. To circumvent this irritating development, probably couched under the heading of 'improvements', we have simply created a new page called answers (the link is on the weddings page). Here is displayed the original articles straight from the Spirella magazines of the 1960s describing exactly what lies beneath.
Spring has Sprung
The Vernal Equinox is behind us and we are officially in Springtime. Shame about the torrential rain and temperature (40F). Confined to the house, we have decided to catalogue our entire collection of corsetry brochures, catalogues and books. This has been prompted by an Italian collector of such items who is looking to trade. We may well publish the list to see if anybody out there would like some original material.
Meanwhile, we came across a rather charming picture of a lady in her girdle peering discretely through the lace curtains. It reminded us of a similar picture that we took in 2011 whilst making the 2012 calendar. Here the lady in her tight corsets peers hopefully through the window. What are they looking for? Mr. Right no doubt. In reality, the lady on the right did find her Mr. Right shortly afterwards.