Ivy Leaf's Dairy 2021

 

Happy New Year

 

 

January 2021

 

Happy New Year everybody. Let us be realistic, 2021 is going start out tougher than 2020 but there's light at the end of the tunnel. Keep on moving towards that light.

Unfortunately, for the first time in many years, we have no new calendar to hang on the wall. My husband, however, did a little bit of research and discovered that 2010 has the same dates as 2021 so our original calendar will have to suffice.

It reminds us of the hilarious sessions and photo-shoots that we have enjoyed with our army of amateur models and the lovely Victoria, Moira and in 2016, Cathie Jung.

2021 also has the same dates as 1965, the middle of that amazing decade that would change the world forever.

Let us indulge in a little piece of nostalgia as we show some pictures from the Golden age of corsetry.

 

         

     

Joan Sims laces a grunting Amelia Bayntun into a pair of corsets in 'Carry On Loving' (1970). Were women still wearing corsets then? Yes indeed. Regard the article below from 1969 published in the Spirella house magazine.

 

 

The wedding description below comes from November 1969 and refers to the picture above. Note that even at the end of the swinging 60s, two middle-aged women are wearing corsets and amazingly, so is one woman barely into her 30s although she does look rather stunning! From left to right, the corsetiere wears a 305 corset, what else. The bride's mother wears the complex (and expensive) 325 corset, but she looks like the type that might. The bride, by way of a contrast wears a Spirelette 132 pantie-girdle. The bridegroom's mother wears a Coppelia 44 girdle. These were Spirella's off-the-shelf girdles. Would the bride's traditional mother have approved? Certainly the bride's elder sister, who must be in her 30s is wearing a corset but this is very old-fashioned for 1969. Perhaps the younger bride has fallen for the social revolution that has left her older sister unchanged. I suspect the corset might just be for 'special occasions' only, such as this wedding.

 

An exciting day for the bride and a proud moment for our consultant Mrs. H. of Peterborough. The bride wore Spirelettes 83 and 132 , the bridegroom's mother (on her left), a Coppelia 44 and Modern Line bra; sister of the bride (extreme right of picture) wore a 305 and Fashion Line bra, and (on the bride's right) her mother in a 325 corset and style 72 bra, and Mrs. H. in Spirella foundations 305 and 30. Reports Mrs. H.: "A guest at the wedding became interested in Spirella and ordered a Coppelia girdle and bra. Another guest had a Coppelia girdle and asked me to get her some support stockings." It was Mrs. H. who, in the August issue, explained how she had secured orders while helping out at a funeral.  Is nowhere safe??

 

We really hope that 2021 will see the production of our final calendar for 2022. Let us look to the future with hope.

At some point in the past, we asked for help to identify the lady attending to the Queen Mother in these pictures. On the right they are at a Hardy Amies fashion show in December 1954.

One reader has tentatively suggested that the lady may be Lady Jean Margaret Florence Rankin (née Dalrymple; 1905 - 2001), 'woman of the bedchamber' to the Queen Mother from 1947 until 1994. Can anybody substantiate this? Circumstantial evidence is that Princess Margaret was present at the Hardy Amies show and was a close friend of Lady Jean. By a strange coincidence, Florence Dalrymple was the name of my husband's aunt who ran a draper's shop in Renfrew from which the Ivy Leaf Collection started.

 

The ever expanding book has now reached 269 pages, however, publication will have to wait for a return to being allowed to have guests in one's house again. At the end of last year, I hoped that this might be at Easter but I fear that is extremely optimistic. Our model Moira is only 42 and will not be vaccinated before she moves to Scotland and out of our reach later in the year - if she is allowed to that is.

Nevertheless, there are positives. Being of a certain age, I hope to be vaccinated in February and my husband, being one year younger, in March.

 

 

Meanwhile this piece of whimsy crossed our desks last week.

  

The un-pixelated version of the left-hand picture will appear in the book.

I feel that the Dummies are a bit modern for a book extolling 1960s corsetry.

Never mind '"Zip me up, Darling!"

Any poor women who was persuaded that she was 'Extra Stout' (my Goodness) would have to ask her husband

"Lace me up Darling; I hope you have a few hours to spare!"

 

Our current thoughts on the book are to publish it as is. With a little selective weeding out of unnecessary pages it now stands at 267 pages. The trouble is that every time we go through it to check for errors, it is highly tempting to add a bit more.

 

February 2021

 

I have had my vaccination and I expect that my (slightly younger) husband will receive his soon.

 

The book is now with the publisher. There was the usual back and forth email flurry to sort out margins and all the technical minutiae that printers love and writers could hardly care less about. The book has ended up at 264 pages plus the cover and we await the first proof copy. Three pages had to be removed for copyright reasons but this hardly detracts from the content.

 

The draft book has arrived and it looks stunning but it is heavy, weighing in at 1.2 kg. Postage outside the UK will be expensive and to send it across the pond will be prohibitive. Nevertheless, we'll offer the books at cost price plus 10% (for charity) plus postal charges. The books should be printed in about three weeks and we will publish the costs before then. The book is an expanded version of the ring-bound 'What Lies Beneath' and is professionally bound. It looks amazing.

 

   

 

The Book:  Prices and Postage

 

The book started out as a lockdown project to convert our first book 'What Lies Beneath' from Landscape into Portrait format.

During this process, we added 64 new pages and corrected a few errors. The book is very much derived from our web-site but using photographs of our models that never appear un-blurred on the web-site

 

We are only printing 10 copies of the book and because of this, the cost of production was £309.85 that works out at £30.99 per book. Postage to the UK is 3.30, to Europe £12.10 and to the USA (sorry guys) £29.20!!

The models in the book gave their time so that the calendars and books we have produced could be sold for charity, however, I am aware that the cost plus postage is very high particularly outside the UK. Also the pound has strengthened considerably over the past two months.

For that reason we will only add 10% to the cost of the book for charity. Should any purchaser wish to make an additional contribution to charity please feel free to do so. This can be added when you pay the PayPal invoice. So, the bottom line is

 

Total price including post and packing:

 

to the UK  £37.19

to Europe   £46.09

to the USA  £63.19

 

We expect the book to be finally printed in a few weeks after which, we will immediately contact those who have expressed interest.

 

 

March 2021

 

 

The books have arrived, all 10 of them and nine out of the 10 books were paid for almost immediately on receipt of invoice. In view of the interest, we have ordered some more books but not so many as to devalue their exclusivity.

 

 

In September last year, I wrote about a film called Hell Drivers (1957) where an actress, Marjorie Rhodes (1897 - 1979) appears in a substantial surgical corset. Miss Rhodes gained a reputation for playing straight-talking (she was born in Yorkshire after all), down-to-earth, formidable, well-built ladies, exactly the sort who would wear corsets as she undoubtedly did. An appropriate coincidence is that Miss Rhodes was born as Millicent Wise that happens to be the name of a ladies shop in the Stoke-on-Trent area of England. In the late 1950s to the 1970s, they sold corsets at Millicent Wise.

One of the beauties of compiling this web-site is that from time to time, we received fascinating insights into this period. This one comes from the nephew of the real Millicent Wise who ran the corset shop:

 

'Millicent Wise' was the name of a Corsetry, Lingerie and Swimwear retailer based in Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire. Originally the business was set up by an Emma Millicent Wise. Her brother Harry, encouraged by his older Sister expanded the business in the 50s. 60s and 70s. Milly continued with one single shop in Hanley, Stoke on Trent trading under the name Miss E.M Wise, City Corset Salon. Harry built his retail business up and at one time had shops in Crewe, Newcastle under Lyme, Tunstall, Hanley, Longton, Stafford, Wolverhampton, Walsall, Leek and Shrewsbury. The business dwindled over the years for a variety of reasons and eventually he was forced to sell his remaining shops to a company from Leicestershire, which was a manufacturer as well as corsetry retailer, Harwayes that was run by another Harry, Harry Wayte. Harwayes is still trading in lingerie. According to some, the shop 'Millicent Wise' was known as 'Militant Wives'!

 

 

 

The Book

The final copies of the book have arrived and invoices have been sent out to those who have expressed interest.

 

 

April 2021

 

There is a lovely YouTube video by Jessica Kellgren-Fozard who suffers back pain caused by scoliosis. This pain was much relieved by wearing a made-to-measure corset from the company 'Fairy Gothmother'.

 

I have always maintained that the easiest corset to wear and tighten simply has to be a fan-lacer with a busk front and this is exactly what was custom made for Jessica. Ambrose Wilson's V80 corset used this arrangement as well and was popular despite the advertisement's scary description:

A belt for rigorous figure-discipline.

 

 

 

After 15 weeks of hard lockdown, non-essential shops can at last open in England. Pubs and restaurants can serve up to six people in a group but only outside until May 17th. Of course, it's snowing hard after a mild week and we have lunch booked for 1pm - outside of course and the temperature sits at 33oF!

To cheer ourselves up, we dug out the old 2012 calendar, the photo shoots for which were taken nearly 10 years ago. My husband found the running order for the shoot and a page from the book 'What Lies Beneath' shows the outcome. As my husband said at the time "Women do seem to love dressing up!"

If you look at the picture (right), you will notice that the running order did not go quite to plan since for the wedding shot, the plan was for all the models to be wearing M&S girdles. The photos with the dresses must have occurred earlier in the day since Marjorie has squeezed into a Spirelette 105 panty-girdle, Amy wears a Spirella girdle, Madeleine a Spirella 305 and Eileen, a Spirella 325. It looks like the photo was taken just before lunch. In some of the last photos (if you remember that calendar) the models hold glasses full of champagne and that was real champagne. These photo shoots were so much fun!

I remember now that the order of play was disrupted right at the start when Amy was late having been held up in a traffic jam. My husband who was organiser and photographer had to think on his feet and shuffle the schedule around Amy's initial absence, but it worked. Note that Marjorie required, according to the schedule, a corset to fit in the teal satin dress, however, she is obviously wearing a panty-girdle in the photograph.

 

 

What happened, and we have come across this before, is that when the fit is marginal, the bulk of the corset outweighs the attenuation and you are better off with a softer garment over which the zipper can be forced. Sure, the dress will not hang as well, but at least the zipper will close. This reminds me of a friend of my mother who was ordered by her doctor to be fitted with  firm back support. To put a brave face on it she told my mother that she would lose at least one dress size. Sadly, this was not the case as the bulk of the rigidly boned garment added a dress size to the unfortunate woman.

 

These observations have prompted us to develop a new page called 'The Abominable Corset'.

 

We have come across a few curiosities from the 1960s that have been migrated to their proper places in the web-site: Visibility of Underwear and Stockings.

 

My husband and I have recently become what are referred to as 'Double Jabbers' as life slowly returns to some semblance of normality. Sadly, this is not the case in all countries at the moment. Meanwhile, a Spirella consultation that is not going to plan.

 

  

 

 

May 2021

 

The Spirella 325 corset in the picture above right is fashioned in a beautiful orchid material (satin nylon). It was made-to-measure for Bunty (remember her) nearly 20 years ago. It has been modelled by a few of our older ladies that have put on weight over the years that we have been making the calendars.

Amazingly, Bunty has lost five stone, 70 pounds or 32 kilos since those days and the corset is too big on her. For the photograph below taken in 2016 all the lacing was done up tight whereas there used to be a couple of inches gap both front and back. What fun we had then in 2016 when Cathie Jung visited us and joined in the calendar. In the right hand photograph, Marjorie, Bunty and Cathie all wear Axfords reproduction Victorian corsets but of dramatically different sizes. Cathie's 21-inch corset was, of course, far too big for her.

 

   

 

Recalling some stories about the boning of corsets and the contrast between the soft, elegant exterior and the hard uncompromising interior as related in Tales:

 

My corsetiere tells me of several clients, whose first act of the day is to don their corsets, and their last act before retiring to take them off again. An old family friend was such a person. This lady was outstanding in her appearance. Although in her 70s, she possessed a slim and elegant figure. Her clothes were her extravagance, old-fashioned, yet tasteful and expensive confections of patterned chiffons and silks. Her hair was like a spun silver web and her stocking seams ruler straight down to her court shoes. Only the complete rigidity of her torso indicated that she was corseted from shoulders to thigh. She made no secret of the fact, and would jokingly say to younger women how Spencer had looked after her figure tapping her unyielding stomach. Her corsets, as one might suppose, were, within the constraints of their functionality, as beautifully, yet conservatively cut as her clothes. The sturdy buckles, straps and bones, almost enhanced the appearance of her stays rather than detracting from it. Presumably these creations were thrown away after she died, as has been the fate of so many ‘collectors' items’. So many elderly women put a ludicrous value on effectively worthless heirlooms, photographs and knick-knacks picked up from so-called antique shops. If only they knew that they might be wearing their most valuable assets!  

 

A wispy old lady in floating chiffons and delicate lace, her hair shone like the spun silk of her favourite dresses. It seemed as though this ephemeral piece of thistledown would blow away in the breeze. It came, therefore as a shock to my husband, the first time he helped her into her chair. Aware as most men are of the softness of the female form, he was struck by the incongruous rigidity and hardness of her frame. I had already seen her corsets on a previous visit and knew what was coming. The poor old dear was anchored to ‘terra firma’ by no less than three pounds of Spencer’s firmest surgical corsets.

 

My aunt was very proud of her erect posture and frequently admonished the younger generation for their dreadful slouching. We all knew that if the younger generation wore corsets like hers, they would have perfect posture as well, but we were far too polite to mention it. That is until one day when she fired off a tirade culminating with “.. look at my ramrod posture.” My son (who would have been about eight at the time) piped up, “That’s because you’ve got ramrods down your back!” “Pardon me, young man. What do you mean by that?” “Every time you bend over I can see two great rods up your back.” I scolded him and told him not to make personal remarks. I explained to my aunt that, indeed, the bones in her corset were quite visible when she bent over. She was mortified that people knew her secret!

 

I think I was a very cute looking boy when I was about 11 or 12 years old, certainly I was the recipient of a disproportionate amount of matronly cuddles, or bear-hugs as I called them. I was fascinated, however, by one elderly relative who looked so fragile that a gust of wind might well have knocked her over, yet her cuddles were painful and hard. Moreover she seemed to have two rods down her back. I asked my mother about this and she mumbled that they must have been bones. I looked perplexed and she added "Bones, you know, bones in her corsets." I then received a lecture on structured foundation garments that left my mother rather red-faced. "Do you wear corsets" I asked. "NO I DO NOT!" she retorted. I had no idea why she was so blunt but she softened and added "I wear what's called a girdle; it has bones to give it shape but not the rigid steels of a corset." So now I knew.

 

   

Doreen (Spirella 325) and Madeleine (a very rare satin Camp) display the engineering that lies beneath the soft silks and satins of their wedding outfits, whilst Marjorie is strapped into a vintage Jenyns dorsal lumbar support with four surgical steels flanking her poor spine.

Wearing the same corset, Victoria reveals the perils of leaning forward.

 

 

June 2021

Colourful Underwear

We have a section devoted to this topic, however, we received a fascinating letter just the other day:

 

Nothing shows through white like white!

A white bra WILL show through a white top!

Nothing you can do!
Even back in the 1970s when I was growing up and white blouses were popular, the SMART ones wore beige or pink bras under white tops and when they DID wear white dresses they would wear a panty girdle in  some other colour than white. Even a surprisingly bright colour like yellow can work if done right.

Under white, any colour BUT white or black.

Black CAN work under the brighter reds or purples

 

We learned that the hard way. In our early calendars, we asked the models to wear white underwear. This wasn't too much of a problem since they all wore beige tights under their stockings to smooth their thighs. It was only when we recruited the young Victoria whose thighs were flawless that we realised how much her panties showed through (see right).

However, and it's a big however, our charming model Madeleine (left) who was in her late 70s at the time, was quite happy for her Doreen long-line to be seen through her white blouse. I know my husband agrees with this as well. However, the tantalising view of the brassiere is one thing, but one should never, ever show the outlines of your girdle or, Heaven forbid, your corsets.

More of this can be found here.

 

 

 

 

CAMP and Dogs

What is it about CAMP corset advertising and dogs? We captioned the left-hand picture years ago as "You dare to photograph me in my corsets, and I'll throw my dog at you !" Some decades later, the dog loving advertisers have struck again. "Do you need extra figure support?" they ask. Quite possibly if one was going to hoist quite a heavy poodle to such heights without serious injury.

 

Dog or no dog, I have said it before and I'll say it again, there's nothing quite like a CAMP to flatten that abdomen with a few simple pulls on those straps. Just beware of the engineering showing through light-weight fabrics.

   

 

 

July 2021

 

 

Boring Backs

 

We have lamented this feature elsewhere. Why is it that a girdle, and the Berlei on the left is a classic example, have such pretty fronts and such plain, dull and boring backs? It is a common feature and we commented on it in our French pages. Is it simply that the view in the mirror will look pleasing and the manufacturer can save money on the rear? According to my husband, the rear view of a down-stretch satin panel at the back of a girdle is worth the expense but he's an engineer, not a manufacturing accountant. One thing is for certain, the rear bones on the that Berlei are going to show through all but the thickest of fabrics!

 

Even the lovely 1950s Galaxy on the right has a gorgeous satin front panel, but once again, the rear is a poor relation although some effort has gone into the patterned fabric.

 

   

 

A very pretty garment. What a shame that the suspenders have been cut off.

Here we have yet another example of 'boring back syndrome' courtesy of the Italian company Vestal.

There is however, one very interesting feature that can be seen below where the corset has been turned inside out. For indeed, this is a corset and not because of the lacing. Our explanation of the difference between a corset and a girdle explains that a corset must be non-expandable at some point in its construction and the clever Italians have inserted an internal ribbon at the waist thereby turning what could have been a girdle into an effective corset.

 

Can an experienced corsetiere tell if a woman is wearing a corset or a girdle? Indeed, she can as we have related in 'The March of the Wombles'.

 

 

 

August 2021

I cannot believe that it is August already. We had a phone call from Cathie Jung yesterday; always a pleasure to hear from her and Bob. It reminded us of their visit to the UK in 2016. We refer to this in our book 'I'm Killing my Girdle'.

 

 

 

 

11th August 2020:  Happy 19th Birthday Ivy Leaf

 

Nineteen years ago, my husband and I started to assemble the Ivy Leaf web-site and we are still at it. Can we get to 20 years? Who knows, the world is not the place it was half a year ago but we live in hope.

Over the last wee, we have left you with some views that were common in the 50s and 60s but are hardly ever seen today and a mystery to a whole generation. These images have now been moved here and can be accessed by clicking on the pictures below:

 

           

 

Well, that is the end of a week of celebrating Ivy Leaf's 19th birthday.

 

It is always a pleasure to be in contact with the models who have posed in the past for our calendars and that have featured in the diary for the past week. We had a viewer who asked about the tea-rose girdle featured on the 18th August. As it happened, we enjoyed lunch with that particular model, Amy, yesterday (18th Aug). Now 10 years older than when the picture was taken, she is still a very glamorous grandmother.

 

We mentioned in May 2021 about the contrast in a woman's appearance and the reality of what structure lies beneath the silks and satins: "A wispy old lady in floating chiffons and delicate lace, her hair shone like the spun silk of her favourite dresses. It seemed as though this ephemeral piece of thistledown would blow away in the breeze. It came, therefore as a shock to my husband, the first time he helped her into her chair. Aware as most men are of the softness of the female form, he was struck by the incongruous rigidity and hardness of her frame. I had already seen her corsets on a previous visit and knew what was coming. The poor old dear was anchored to ‘terra firma’ by no less than three pounds of Spencer’s firmest surgical corsets." This is never more apparent when you consider the structure of some stunningly elegant gowns of the 1940s - 1970s.

 

It seems that Ivy Leaf's 19th birthday provoked some readers to lament that several models did not feature: Bunty, Cathie and Patricia from Brabarella. How remiss of us; we have made an addition to the 19 years page.

 

For those of you who are fans of the late Lyn Locke, we have come across more photographs of her. They are located in the 'hidden' areas of the web-site.

People have asked "What are these hidden areas?" Not often, but sometimes a picture will contain a clickable link that takes you to these areas. You might start with 'Garters & Lace'. We would be most interested to know the name of the lady with Lyn. [Thanks very much to the reader who alerted us to 

newsletter of September 2005 where the lady in question is interviewed as Angela. Was that her real name I wonder? Probably about as much as Lyn Locke was a real name.]

 

Back to the 19th birthday image collages. A reader suggested that the ladies on the 15th and 16th in the gold satin suit were both Victoria, however, it was indeed Moira on the 15th wearing the same suit (five years later) but not the same underwear as the glimpses reveal. Victoria (right) wears an American Custom Maid panty-girdle with a lacy hem, Moira (far right) wears the formidable Spirelette 105 with the plain satin elastic panel at the hem. It is very easy to think that they are the same woman from the angle of the photographs but note that Victoria sports an engagement ring and Moira does not. We love it when readers write to us with comments.

 

September 2021

 

Good Gracious, another month passes. We have spent some time researching the 'Garters & Lace' conventions organised by Lyn Locke and her partner Mike. These were well documented in their monthly newsletter called 'The Power Net' (see above). Sadly, all the models involved seemed to have faded into obscurity or perhaps they are still active in a field that we have not discovered. Any recollections and memories of these events would be greatly appreciated.

 

Early 1960s Woman

Regard the images on the left taken in 1960 on a British ocean liner. The women are attending the captain's cocktail party. Notice the very 1960s details: The lady holding a cigarette, the ladies smiling to show the uncorrected gaps in their teeth. Mind you, more than half of her peers would be wearing full dentures so she has actually lasted rather well.

The middle picture shows the transition from the flared skirts and petticoats of the 1950s to the pencil skirt of the 1960s. Note the length of the hem; the mini-skirt was still several years in the future. So, what would lie beneath the gowns of these 1960s 50-something lovelies? The panty-girdle had not really become established in Britain so it is most likely that a girdle would be worn beneath the sheath dress. As for the flared skirt, no controlling lower foundation would be needed although in 1960, a fifty-something would feel undressed without one. Had the gown been strapless, then Liz Fraser's outfit in the film "Carry On Cruising" (1962 - top right) would certainly pass muster.

The young woman (bottom right - London street scene) is a classic of the period (late 50s). She is dressed as a younger version of her mother right down to her twin set pearls and, almost certainly, firm, sensible girdle. Within a decade she would have a choice to remain as her mother (establishment) or to throw away her underwear, don T-shirt and jeans and play Scott Mckenzie singing about flower power in San Francisco (anti-establishment). It was a time of incredible change, the ramifications of which still reverberate around the world.

 

 

Back to the 'hidden areas'. Not often, but sometimes a picture will contain a clickable link that takes you to these areas. You might start with 'Garters & Lace' or look at the words in 'The Other Side of Corsetry'.

 

Summer is nearly over, officially it ends with the beginning of Autumn (Fall) on the autumnal equinox that this year lies on 22nd September. Whilst our Antipodean friends look forward to another scorching summer, us northerners prepare for dropping temperatures and the approach of winter. My husband is quite cheerful about this being a keen amateur astronomer (as was the husband of Ethel Granger). The dark nights will see him outside with his telescopes and camera, the latter of which has seen more heavenly bodies than most cameras ever will.

 

The change of seasons marks our progression through the year and allowed a good corsetière to persuade her clients that their corset wardrobe should match the seasons as well. I commented on this some time ago when a cousin (once removed) recounted just how many corsets her old granny possessed after she passed away. Her dressing room drawers contained over 20 identically sized, identically coloured, white Spencer corsets. This was quite an investment representing about US $4,000 at today’s values. The only differences were in the weight of the material. There were some in a very lightweight ‘aertex’ style, some in the good old Orchid material (artificial and washable satin) and a few in a heavy brocade. The lady was wealthy and travelled extensively. I can only presume that she took along a collection of corsets (they are not the easiest garments to wash and dry on holiday) appropriate to the climate of her destination, hence the large collection. Now that is the sort of client that most corsetières can only dream about.

 

We watched the 1952 film 'The Importance of being Earnest' just the other day and were entranced, not just by the husky voice of Joan Greenwood (1921 - 1987), but by her spectacular waist. Sometimes you wonder whether she is heroically corsetted or is she naturally very thin. Well, in this case there is no doubt since the busk studs on her corsets are clearly seen embossed against the fabric of her dress. She is accompanied by Edith Evans (1888 - 1976) who would, of course, have been brought up wearing corsets. My engineering husband immediately set about calculating exactly what waist size Miss Greenwood possessed based on her height (variously estimated between 5' 0" and 5' 1"). It works out at 21 - 22", very small indeed, but by 1952s standards it probably only required a 2 - 3" reduction from her natural 31-year-old waist. On the other hand, the far taller (5' 7") 64-year-old Edith Evans sports a  33" waist although it looks smaller due to the flambuoyant dress design, even so she probably required a few inches reduction as well, something to which she would be well accustomed.

 

Edith Evans and Joan Greenwood                                                        Joan Greenwood with a superimposed corset to show the busk stud positions (actually modelled by Victoria)

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Madeleine

 

 

Madeleine's derriere, suitably encased in a sumptuous satin CAMP corset graced our first ever calendar shot in 2009. Her colleague, Eileen, wore the Jenyns on the right.

 

Yesterday was Madeleine's birthday and she let it be known that it was a 'significant' one. One has to be careful here. We knew she was over 70 but did not want to make the unforgiveable gaff of suggesting she might be 80 when in fact she was only 75.

We were astonished when she told us that yesterday, she turned 90!! Madeleine has appeared in seven out of our nine calendars and in five photo-shoots, all of which she enjoyed immensely. The poor, long-suffering Madeleine was laced, strapped and buckled into all sorts of garments and on one memorable occasion, my husband was called into the dressing room to help her close the hooks-and-eyes on her Marks and Spencer girdle so that the zipper could be fastened. Madeleine wasn't embarrassed at all but my husband was!

 

Madeleine got into the CAMP in 2009 (Calendar cover), in 2011 (left - with Jenny and Marjorie), in 2015 (middle - with Marjorie and Victoria) and on the right once more in the CAMP with buckles, laces and satin in abundance. What fun we had!

 

 

October 2021

Earlier this year, we asked if anybody could identify this lady who accompanied the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret to functions in the early 1960s.

A reader has suggested that the lady may be Dame Margaret Katherine Hay (nee Seymour 1918 - 1975) who was succeeded by Lady Susan Hussey in 1960 as the Queen Mother's Lady-in-waiting. There are precious few photographs of her, however, a picture in her youth reveals a good likeness.

 

Regarding the Queen Mother, here is a comment from the Spirella Magazine of July 1960:

A client of Mrs. C of Birmingham, was recently presented to the Queen Mother. "I was wearing a 515 corset and a 384 brassiere and felt as confident and as well corsetted as the Queen Mother herself," remarked the client. 

 

Thomas Lierse's excellent site 'The Long Island Staylace Association (LISA)' contained some recent links to re-mastered and colourised films from the 1900s. They are very well presented and show off the corsetted waists of the promenading ladies to great effect.

 

 

 

Back onto the subject of PowerNet, we are most grateful to those readers who have helped us to add to our collection of these newsletters.

As far as we know, Lyn Locke and her partner Mike issued these newsletters from November 2001 (Vol. 1) to July 2007 (Vol. 68). OK, I know the mathematicians amongst you will realise that July 2007 should be volume 69 but May 2006 carried no volume number. We do not know if July 2007 was the last volume to be issued.

We are missing:

vols. 1 - 4; 6 - 11, 19, 20, 23, 25, 49, 64 - 67 and any others that were published after July 2007. Please can you help to fill in the gaps.

Also if you are still in contact with the models from the Garters & Lace conventions: Judith Diane, Angela, Doris and the rest, please could you let us know.

 

If you made your cakes a little lighter and fluffier, perhaps you wouldn't need to wear that surgical corset!

(Vol. 35 - September 2004)

 

Lyn wears a Vanity Foundation, style 344 matched with a white longline bra by Eddyform. (Vol. 22 - August 2003)

 

 

It really is a grey time of year. The nights are closing in and on Sunday, the clocks go back to render dusk at 5pm. Often our friends in North America forget that, even in southern England, we lie at the same latitude as Calgary and as for Aberdeen, where we spent a wonderful year in 2001, it lies only a few dozen miles south of Juneau. I shouldn't complain, the weather is unseasonably warm getting into the low 60s oF.

 

We would like to thank our readers for sending us some of our missing copies of the Powernet newsletter. I have altered our wish list above. Meanwhile, we continue to add to Lyn and Angela's pages.

 

 

 

November 2021

 

It's 52F (11C) this morning, warm for the time of year but it is dark, dark, dark. One can not ignore the tilt of planet earth and winter is approaching.

 

We always appreciate when readers point out our mistakes, for how else can we learn and progress? A kind gentleman has corrected one of our translations on the French page - thank you so much. I wonder if he could help with the translation on the Curiosities page?

 

 

On the left we have a lovely picture of the transition period from girdles to panty-girdles (early 1960s in the USA, late 60s in the UK). The picture is probably from the late 1950s since the woman on the right is still wearing stockings and seems rather unsure about her choice of underwear.

 

 

Carrying on from our lament in July, the Sarongster girdle on the right is quite exquisite at the front, the mirror view that the wife would observe, yet bland and frankly off-putting at the back, the husband's view.

 

 

We have added another picture to the article on 1960s woman.

 

When is a girdle not a girdle? When it's a corset!

 

We have covered this subject in quite detail here. Basically, a corset is un-expandable at some point of its circumference. A girdle can be expanded. This is why there are laced girdles and hook-side corsets with no lacing. It is not the lacing that defines a corset.

 

The magnificent garment on the right from the house of Illa Knina looks at a casual glance to be a girdle. But regard the interior, a firm, un-stretchable band of material encircles the garment ensuring that the back-lacing will really reduce the wearer's waist. Without that band, the lacing would just stretch the garment which would therefore be classified as a girdle. The corset does not open and consequently, there is yards of lacing to allow the wearer into the device. Once tightened, the yards of lacing must be secured in case it falls down revealing your secret to all and sundry.

 

 

 

RIP Thomas Lierse  1945 - 2021

 

How sad it is to relate the passing of Thomas Lierse, creator of the Long Island Staylace Association (LISA), last Monday (22nd November).

We know only too well the effort required to keep a web-site regularly updated, but we can only admire Thomas's stamina to update LISA every day.

 

 

He will be sadly missed.

 

 

 

December 2021

 

Finally, it is the last month of the year and in 10 days (at our latitude) the nights start drawing out again although the mornings keep darkening until January. As is our custom, we are going to pose a series of questions based on that figure that we so admire, 1960s woman.

 

 

While making the calendars, the models could chose appropriate costumes to go with their period foundations and the pink satin dress and coat was a favourite. What foundations do you think that Amy was wearing beneath this costume? To give you a clue, she is drinking a cup of tea whilst standing in her underwear. Answers as always to: ivyleaf@corsetiere.net

 

 

Did you guess correctly? Amy wears pure Spirella: a side-laced orchid brassiere and a model 234 girdle in a striped cotton fabric. On another occasion, Amy elected to wear a Triumph Doreen bra and M&S satin-elastic girdle. She was so fond of this girdle that she wanted to buy it.

 

What a story lies in these photographs. Let us consider the high society; they might purchase their foundations from Dior or Rigby & Peller, Rose Lewis and Illa Knina of London. Spirella would be second best, cheaper but as effective. Our middle class model might go to the top of her range (or in those days, her husband's range) and get fitted for a Spirella or, at half the price, buy from Marks and Spencer whose satin-elastic girdles were the match for those of Dior at a tenth the price. It's like Rolls Royce, Mercedes and, dare I say, Skoda or Ford. You lose in class, you lose in peer respect, you lose in perceived quality but, as I said, the Marks and Spencer girdle is no less effective than that from Dior. (My husband adds: Of course a Skoda is not as good as a Rolls Royce, however, mine has carried us for 10 hours through France in superb comfort with an excellent sound system without having to refuel and for sure, you will have nobody's envy but by Goodness, it gets the job done!)

 

Suffice it to say. our 1960s woman wears a long-line bra and a girdle. We all did then.

 

 

What foundations is Marjorie wearing? This is a bit of a trick question. You have to know that Marjorie played the part of the Spirella corsetière in the 2014 calendar.

Marjorie is wearing a Spirella 527 side-laced corset and the same side-laced Spirella brassiere as Amy (above). This is actually quite unlikely for the time, however, Marjorie was playing the corsetière in the 2014 calendar where she would display these garments to a prospective elderly client. Spirella (and all the major corset houses) liked their fitters to wear what they were selling. Since the corsetière was her next rôle in the photo-shoot, it saved time during the costume change to have her thus attired. The black Spirella corset in nylon satin was what she enjoyed wearing most of all. It put such a fine figure on her even if that figure was not really required by the dress that she wore. The 2014 calendar was dedicated to Spirella and I think have to agree that the black brassiere and corset looks superb. It might have been worn by Marjorie in the 1960s for an important function or a wedding but I doubt that it would have been worn regularly.

 

What foundation garments is Moira wearing?

As we have mentioned before, Moira is an accomplished actress, a fan of 1930s costumes and a Regency re-enactor. We caught up with her last week at our local museum where Moira stands out from the other actresses since she has a period waist. She makes her own costumes and creates her corsets from scratch using cane instead of whalebone.

 

At last our model is wearing what a well-dressed 1960s woman would wear, a long-line brassiere and a M&S satin-elastic girdle. Cheaper than Spirella, that girdle was one of the most effective and elegant girdles ever made. We have a dozen in the collection, some of which are now 60 years old and they are as firm as ever as Moira will testify.

 

How lovely, as ever, to receive a phone call from Bob and Cathie Jung the other afternoon. They are both keeping well. For those that support the idea that tight-lacing may be injurious to one's health, you only have to regard 84-year-old Cathie.

 

Does anybody remember Mrs. Amy Phillips, known as Madame Phillips, Corsetiere of Read's Avenue, Blackpool?

 

The long-leg, boned and zippered panty-girdle lives on in Italy. A reader alerted us to the Luropas brand (right). The Italians have always had style. Who can ever forget Sophia Loren in The Millionairess (1960); Good Gracious, that film was made over 60 years ago and Miss Loren still possesses an enviable figure.

 

The End of Another Strange Year

 

So we end 2021 with a horrible feeling of déjà vu, however, we know so much more about our common enemy these days that we have great hopes for 2022.

 

Highlights of the year were the publication of our book 'I'm Killing my Girdle' and the rediscovery of some missing editions of 'The Power Net'. Sadly, the latter reminded us that Lyn Locke passed away in 2018 and another of the greats, Thomas Lierse also passed in 2021.

We shall not see their like again..

... or shall we?

 

 

Next year will represent the 20th anniversary of this web-site and we intend to give Ivy Leaf a rest if not a total retirement. The Ivy Leaf Collection comprises the following:

  • The Ivy Leaf data base of nearly 50Gb and 45,000 files

  • The web-site of 600Mb and 30,000 files

  • The library of 100s of magazines, books and brochures including the Spirella house magazine from 1958 - 1971

  • 100s of brassieres, corselettes, panty-girdles, girdles, corsets, surgical corsets and fitting garments

  • Dozens of costumes, uniforms and accessories that were used in the making of the calendars.

We very nearly found a buyer for the entire collection 18 months ago, but like so many of these contacts, it fizzled out. If you have deep pockets, please be aware that we are open to offers for the collection as a whole or in part. Regarding the library, we would happily donate that to any institution of higher learning.

 

 

 

We hope you all had a Merry Christmas, so let us turn our backs on 2021 and look forward to 2022.

 

 

 

Happy New Year

 

 

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