'Droit Devant Forme Nouvelle' Drab Coutil Corset With Flossing Embroidery

'Droit Devant Forme Nouvelle' Drab Coutil Corset With Flossing Embroidery, c, 1900-5, France. The Underpinnings Museum. Photography by Tigz Rice

Date:  c. 1900-5

Origin: France

Fabric: Cotton coutil

Brand: Unknown


This ‘straight front’ corset offers a typical silhouette of the early 1900s, marking the shift from curved and spoon busks to a more linear front line. It is constructed from two layers of drab herrinbone coutil, with a mix of vertical panels and hip gussets. It is boned throughout with baleen, with bones either sandwiched between the two layers of coutil or in external channels. A stamp on the interior waist tape states ‘Baleine garantie’ (baleen guaranteed). Steel bones are also used to encase the centre back eyelet channel, which uses one part eyelets and appears to still have its original laces.

The corset fastens at the centre front with a straight busk with 5 loops and pins. The corset has apparently been worn a great deal: the busk has turn out of the seam at the bottom of the garment, and the centre loop has snapped off. A petticoat hook is hand sewn to the right side of the busk.

The corset has profuse embroidery details throughout, both decorative and functional. The vertical bust panel has machine quilting, which is largely obscured by the external channels that have been overlaid. There is multitoned flossing embroidery across the entirety of the corset. Most of the bone channels feature flossing to anchor the bones in place. The hip gussets feature re-enforcing embroidery at stress points.

The top edge of the corset has a woven colour co-ordinated trim that has been stitched on with a simple lockstitch. The top and bottom edges are both bound in a twill tape.  The interior of the corset has a waist tape that extends from the seam of the eyelet pannel right to the centre front. The right hand side of the garment is stamped with the text ‘DROIT DEVANT / FORME NOUVELLE’ (straight front / new forme) and ‘BALEINAGE RENFORCE’ (reenforced boning), whilst the left side is stamped with ‘Baleine garantie’ (baleen guaranteed).

It is not clear whether these stamps refer to a brand name or simply to the style of the corset. A similar example by the same manufacturer can be seen here.

From the collection of Karolina Laskowska

Museum number: KL-2017-024


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