Green Rayon Satin Corselet With Freehand Quilting

Green Rayon Satin Corselet With Freehand Quilting, c. 1950s, Poland. The Underpinnings Museum. Photography by Tigz Rice

Date: c. 1950s

Origin: Poland

Fabric: Rayon satin & cotton

Brand: Custom made

 

The vibrant colour of this corselet was not considered standard fare for 1950s lingerie. This piece was custom made in Poland, at a time of clothing shortages and restriction due to Communist rule. Ready made clothing was in short supply and often of inferior quality, so people would often either make garments themselves or use a dressmaker. This piece was likely custom made by a dress maker. As a one-off piece, it was possible to use fabrics and embellishments that were unseen in Western ‘off-the-peg’ underwear.

The corselet uses a green rayon satin on the exterior and white cotton lining. The front panel has been intricately free-hand machine quilted, a technique that would have required a lot of patience and skill. The cups are cut with the fasionable pointed bust line of the 1950s, and the body of the garment uses steel boning for structure and a lightly nipped waist line. Matching green satin shoulder straps can be detached from the corselet with hooks sewn to the cup interiors and hand sewn loops on the straps. The bone and underwire channels are created from the cotton fabric, rather than the synthetic nylons and pre-made plush tapes that became commonplace in Western lingerie.

The garment fastens at the centre back with a panel of adjustable hooks and eyes, that have been carefully hand made and hand stitched in. The interior of the corselet suggests that the garment may have been passed down to multiple owners, with evidence of numerous alterations to let the garment in and out for different body shapes.

 

From the collection of Karolina Laskowska