Ivy Leaf's Diary
We wish all our Readers a Happy New Year
Thank you so much for your enthusiastic participation regarding Victoria in the run up to Christmas. We have created a new page called 'A Fashionable Young Lady in 1962' and moved that entire Christmas section over to it.
So what have we got planned for 2019? Work on the book that has languished for two years has restarted and will be finished this year. It will be an A4-sized landscape-oriented book of at least 100 pages and will cover the lecture series 'Pulling Together'. Many photographs of our models will be included and the faces will not be blurred out because the book will never go onto the internet, it will be for limited sale only and, as always with the calendars, all profits will be donated to charity. Be warned, it will not be cheap but it will be a very limited edition..
We updated an entry in the 2018 diary that we always felt was a bit weak since it lacked a picture of a real old-fashioned Namsie girdle.
We must apologise for the lack of updates recently. Our excuse, along with many elderly folk, is that we exchange chilly Britain for warmer climes at this time of year. I wish we could exchange the politics as well. We are now back and suffering jet-lag as well as the shock of a 48 Celcius degree drop in temperature. Once we have settled down (and warmed up) again work on the book will proceed.
We have been aware for many years of the German company, Felina, however, only just recently did we discover that it is still in robust operation and has been for the last 134 years. Few manufacturers can make that claim and we felt obliged to create a new page dedicated to Felina.
When making the calendars, one aspect of vintage foundation garments that fascinated our models, particularly the younger ones, was the number of bones involved. Bones, zippers, buckles, laces and suspenders all seemed to be complications unknown to the modern woman. Bones are important. We found a photograph of a modern women trying on an un-boned, Spanx waist-cincher (right). If it is tight enough to be effective, the horrible consequences shown in the picture can follow as the cincher simply obeys the laws of physics and tries to occupy the least possible space.
We received a charming account about wearing firm girdles in the 1960s.
One of the contestants who beat the panel in that famous TV game show 'What's my Line?' was girdle tester, Jean Desmond (1919 - 2008). We have moved Miss Desmond to the Curiosities page that we have redesigned. We felt that there should be a 'girdles in the movies' section within 'Curiosities' and perhaps that might be promoted in the future to having a page of its own.
Being retired, my husband and I have the luxury of travelling more or less when we wish. We have a favourite hotel that we visit regularly in the Southwest of Britain. This hotel is decorated with numerous black & white photographs of a nautical theme pertinent to the area but also of a number of movie stars. In 2016, my husband was fascinated by a picture at the base of the staircase featuring Brigitte Bardot smoking in a white bustier (that no doubt she would have called a guêpière). At the time, we incorrectly identified this picture as coming from the film 'Two Weeks in September'. We now believe that the picture was taken between shots on the set of the much earlier film, Roger Vadim's 'And God Created Woman' (1956). Vadim was married to Miss Bardot at the time. The French theme is continued in further photographs to be found in this excellent hotel, one of which is an advert for Dior's Chanel No.5 (left).
It is funny how the mind works. From the Chanel picture, I saw the lady in a swimming costume, the gratuitous dangling lace at the hip reminding me of suspenders and immediately connecting with the French theme, my mind wandered on to perfume and corsets and, of course somewhat inevitably, to Jean-Paul Gaultier.
Jean Desmond, girdle tester
Vadim's 'And God Created Woman' (1956)
I wonder from which film this still was taken? That is Brigitte Bardot, but the bustier is completely different. It is in fact from Michel Boisrond's 'Une Parisienne' (1957).
"I have loved corsets since I was small.
When I was a child, my grandmother took me to an exhibition, and they had a corset on display.
I loved the flesh colour, the salmon satin, the lace."
Jean Paul Gaultier
A reader kindly sent in excerpts from a 1966 edition of 'Intimate Apparel'.
How girdles are seen by women
Readers occasionally ask if we have back numbers of our calendars for sale. Unfortunately, we have very few left; perhaps unfortunate is the wrong word since the proceeds go to charity, but unfortunate for the reader. We do have a few calendars from 2017 "Cathie and the Corset Lady" still for sale if you are interested.
The book progresses and we have been encouraged by some firm orders. We have recruited an actress who is a keen re-actor to pose for some shots that we feel will add a sense of style to the finished product.
We lunched with the actress today and were highly impressed by her detailed knowledge of clothes and foundation garments. She took away a number of items to see if they will fit her properly and in two weeks we will have a photo-shoot to fill in some necessary pictures for the book. The title page keeps changing and is currently as depicted on the right, but almost certainly, this will change. Our actress will replicate the pose that was used for the 2015 calendar with the wedding dress, open at the back with a glimpse of satin corsetry peeking out. We have a dozen or so poses that we feel will add to the finished product that currently is running to over 170 pages.
13th May 2019:
RIP Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff (1922 - 2019)
So sad to read today that Doris Day has passed away at the grand old age of 97. The quintessential All-American girl next door had an enviable figure yet she avoided blatant 'cheesecake' poses for the far more alluring image on the right.
Turning 40 in 1962, she would have known all about girdles, how to chose them and how to wear them. By modern standards she did not need any lower foundation garment, but we all wore girdles then.
Like Lucille Ball (1911 - 1989), she could have held her own with any of the glamorous actresses of the day, but decided to develop a niche as a comedy actress.
We have sorted out the problem with our email.
It was the usual case; an upgrade to improve the system didn't. Thanks to some clever people on the users' forum, we have managed to access our account once more. Many thanks to them.
is alive and well.
|Meanwhile, we have held the photo shoot with our actress contact and she was
marvellous. The photos, that will only be available in the forthcoming book,
will, we feel, add a special element of style, elegance and even a touch of
light-heartedness. What made working with this enthusiastic lady so enjoyable
was her sheer knowledge of vintage garments and underwear. Like the late
Locke, she really enjoys wearing foundation garments despite having an enviable
figure that, by modern standards, does not need any shaping, but she just enjoys
the feel and support of a good girdle. Interestingly, she did not like the
panty-girdles that we offered but loved the corselettes.
We have approached several printers to determine the best way to produce the final article and we have a number of meetings in the next few weeks.
It's all quiet on the corsetry front. We have to apologise for the dearth of input to the site over the last few weeks. The hectic June summer season in a small village is partly to blame, but the main reason is 'the book'. It seems to have stabilised at 202 pages, however, every time that we look at the layout, we change something and that is even before final editing. I hope it will be worth the effort. Meanwhile, can you guess what sort of foundation garment our model is wearing?
Congratulations to those that responded to the question above. One gentleman was so accurate that he almost guessed the brand and model. Our model is wearing a corselette.
The first draft of the book has been received from the printers and, as always, a number of corrections will need to be made, however, we are really pleased with the result.
The second draft should be ready this afternoon and we look forward to seeing it. I hope all the corrections have come through properly.
The book is finished and it looks great. However, please be aware that the book contains material taken mainly from the Ivy Leaf web-site, however, many of the pictures are not available on the web-site or have identifying features blurred out. These are reproduced un-blurred in the book. Additionally, the book features our model, Moira, who graces the cover and has been shown in some poses above. The book runs to 202 pages and is sized close to A4, landscape in format and ring-bound. Other methods of binding were considered, however, the cost, already expensive became prohibitive. The story of how we came to write the book can be found here.
We will be taking a short break and upon our return, we will consider how the book should be sold and what we should charge for it.
We are currently awaiting replies from those readers that pre-ordered the book, however, next week, we will release the remainder of the books for purchase.
"We all wore girdles then!"
How often has that phrase appeared in these pages. We were watching a 1964
episode of 'I Love Lucy' the other day, the one where Lucy attempts to teach
Ethel Merman how to sing and there's a scene where Vivian Vance, Ethel Merman
and Lucille Ball appear together (right). It reminded us of Miss Vance's comment
upon preparing to meet Queen Elizabeth in London
“If I wear a girdle to fit into my
dress, I can’t curtsey!”
It was rumoured that Miss Vance was
asked by the studio to remain overweight compared to Miss Ball, however, she was
such a good actress that this was never actually required. She used girdles and
over-tightened brassieres to create the frumpy image. Miss Merman's girdle still
resides in a Hollywood museum and during the film 'It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad
World' (1963), she reveals her panty-girdle on
numerous occasions. During another episode, Miss Ball bawls at her friend "My
husband won't even give me seven dollars to buy a new girdle!" One of Miss
Ball's waspies was even auctioned in 2013.
“If I wear a girdle to fit into my dress, I can’t curtsey!” It was rumoured that Miss Vance was asked by the studio to remain overweight compared to Miss Ball, however, she was such a good actress that this was never actually required. She used girdles and over-tightened brassieres to create the frumpy image. Miss Merman's girdle still resides in a Hollywood museum and during the film 'It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World' (1963), she reveals her panty-girdle on numerous occasions. During another episode, Miss Ball bawls at her friend "My husband won't even give me seven dollars to buy a new girdle!" One of Miss Ball's waspies was even auctioned in 2013.
This was the early 1960s, ten of millions of girdles were sold every year in America and you can guarantee that Misses Vance and Merman were wearing girdles and Miss Ball a panty-girdle, because they all wore girdles then.
For the moment, let us leave you with a few sentences from the Epilogue of the book:
The cover that did not make it to print.
To transpose our web-site into a book would have resulted in a disjointed tome of over 1,000 pages,
so we have settled on a disjointed account of 202 pages.
If you have had the stamina to reach the epilogue, you will appreciate the comments in the prologue that this is not a work of scholarship. Far from it; it is an eclectic mixture of photographs and text that outlines a few of the names behind 20th century corsetry and shows indeed, what lies beneath.
The days of the 1950s corsetière have passed because that world no longer exists, however, women will always want to look good and despite a few decades in the doldrums, proper foundation garments are once again being worn. The fitting of a brassiere is as important now as it always was and the best department stores will still have trained fitters. That the brassiere occupies far less space in this book than does the spectrum of lower foundation garments is purely a consequence of personal interest. Bras have always been with us as have corsets but the girdle came and went in a three decade flourish that saw businesses boom, flourish and then go bust.
We have been privileged to meet with some of the remaining corsetières, none of whom practice their trade any more, indeed, some have passed away as have their clients. We met Pat and Ken Jenyns, the grandson of Sarah Ann Jenyns, we corresponded with Lyn Locke who, more than anybody resurrected memories of the girdle and we met Cathie Jung on two occasions.
The happiest memories of this whole project that owes its beginning to a draper’s shop in Renfrew just after the war, were the photo-shoots where amateur models posed in the foundation garments of another era to raise money for charity. Every session was notable for the general hilarity and bonding between all sizes and ages of women, all keen to dress up and enjoy themselves. Serious re-enactors will cringe at the temporal disparity of hairstyles, clothes and underwear, but the whole object was to let real women experience the foundation garments of another era, and in that, I believe we were successful.
The cover that did.
11th August 2019: Happy 17th Birthday Ivy Leaf
Today, 17 years ago, the Ivy Leaf web site appeared on the internet, tottering, like some untutored teenager in her newly acquired brassiere and girdle, onto an unfamiliar stage, but one on which she hoped to make an impression.
I do hope we have provided both information and entertainment to our readers.
Regarding the description on the left, there are two errors above. Can you spot them?
Thank you to those readers who spotted the deliberate mistakes above. Our model, Moira (right) is not American (she is actually Australian) and she is wearing a British Spirella 105 panty-girdle, possibly the only British girdle to have matched the Americans in the early 1960s.
The final production version of the book has now sold out, however, we have a few copies left of the pre-production version. This version is virtually identical to the final version except that it is slightly smaller being 25 * 19 cm and the text on a few pages is just clipped by the binding. The book is a 202 page, spiral-bound edition based very much on parts of the Ivy Leaf web-site. As might be expected for a limited run, the book was very expensive to produce and the costs of postage outside the UK are ludicrous. However, if you should wish to purchase a copy, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send an invoice:
Costs including postage: GBP 31 USD 50 EUR 39
As always, any profits made from the sale will go to charity.
|The book has now sold out. Thank you so much for your enthusiastic response.|
During the photo-shoot for the book (above right), our model Moira tried on the Spirella 105 panty-girdle, possibly the firmest panty-girdle ever made on this side of the Atlantic. I am not so familiar with American versions, however, I did believe that the Young Smoothie 1068 as worn by Lyn Locke must be up there with the firmest and, to my embarrassment, it is not even mentioned on our best foundations page although it gets a short review in the panty-girdle page. Let us see how these girdles compare.
This picture, apart from anything else, ably demonstrates that women of similar height come in very different shapes.
These panty-girdles both contain the quintessential features: satin panels, boning, metal zipper and concealed suspenders. The Spirelette 105 is only 80% of the Smoothie's amazing 20 inch length, yet weighs 10% more due to a heavier denier of the lycra. They are both excellent girdles and having rummaged through the collection, we have included two more worthy of mention from each side of the Atlantic: The St. Michael 8000/3603, another heavyweight due to the thick patterned lycra panels and the Sears 28497, the lightest here and from the post-satin panel era but still a formidable foundation garment.
Spirelette and St. Michael from Britain and, from the USA, lighter but longer Young Smoothie and Sears
Aesthetically, I think the Smoothie wins this competition, however, we must get some of our models to give these garments a decent 'road test'. We have continued this discussion on the panty-girdle page.
The erudite Roger K has suggested that we re-organise the page, Roger's Ramblings. This we have done and it makes navigation of his many articles far more logical.
Roger also alerted us to a few more interesting 'What's My Line?' contestants and there has been an interesting discourse on the Other Side.
Now for our next big project ....
Ivy Leaf Articles for sale on Ebay
A number of items from the Ivy Leaf Collection have been sold on Ebay. This will continue with garments that were used for our calendars to be followed by foundation garments. If you do an Ebay search for seller ivy*leaf you will find copies of the 2017 calendar that featured Cathie Jung as well as one of the dresses that Cathie wore for that calendar. There are a couple of wedding dresses that our models Moira and Victoria have worn and some uniforms. All have featured in previous calendars. More items will follow.
If all else fails, click on the girdle >>>>>
The list of items for sale is nearly empty at the moment but we will populate it in October.
The official Ivy Leaf sale will begin on Wednesday 23rd October, however, we would like to assess potential interest from our readers since we would be quite willing to sell privately before the articles are put on Ebay. There will be girdles and corsets from Camp and Jenyns, satin-elastic girdles from M&S, some Spirella and Spencer modelling garments and associated bras, corsets and girdles. We also have a huge selection of brochures and pamphlets as well as uniforms from the WRNS, British Airways and Caledonian Airways. Please let us know if you are interested.
A reader has asked what happened to our page on 'Corsets and Girdles in the Movies'. It has moved, however, if you click on Ethel you will be directed to it. In it you will find a new, short dissertation on Ducks and Corsets.
We have received considerable interest in elements of the collection and have sold some uniforms, Jenyns corsets and St. Michael girdles. Interest from across the Atlantic has been particularly keen. A few items are slowly drifting onto ebay (click the girdle above to see them). For fun, we have produced a draft 2020 calendar based on photos of our models, particularly Moira, who modelled for and featured on the front cover of the book. Is anybody interested in a 2020 calendar?
We have approached museums and have been approached by a rather prestigious museum in Britain concerning the collection. Whether this would end up as a purchase or a donation remains to be seen, however, our concern with museums is that, like icebergs, most of the collection would remain unseen and unused.
We have put some articles on ebay and many thanks to those who have bid for and bought these articles. So far we have sent out a list of St. Michael girdles for sale to interested parties. If you would like one of these lists, please contact us at email@example.com.
The St. Michael girdles (predictably) sold out very quickly, however, we will be digging through the collection shortly and putting some more items on ebay. It surprises us that no reader with deep pockets has ever made an approach to buy the collection that consists of hundreds of brochures, books and magazines, over 500 corsetry items and dozens of period costumes, not to mention the web-site and the backup archives that contain 10s of thousands of pictures and articles.
It is always delightful to receive a phone-call from Cathie and Bob Jung. We chatted about what's on in the world of corsets and local news, for Cathie and Bob stayed with us at the end of 2016 and caused something of a sensation in the local pub. During that visit, Cathie joined us as a model for the 2017 charity calendar. We still have a few copies of this calendar that, although out of date, is packed with photographs of Cathie, our young model Victoria and stalwarts Margaret and Marjorie (the corsetiere). For one of the months, we thought that it would be fun to dress Cathie in a conventional girdle and bra. This was not easy due to the highly pronounced waist that Cathie has so the garments almost had to be hung on her. To complete the illusion she wore a conventional dress that is currently for sale on ebay.