Metal & Silk Brocade Corset With Ribbonslot Lace Trim

Metal & Silk Brocade Corset With Ribbonslot Lace Trim, c. 1900s. The Underpinnings Museum. Photography by Tigz Rice

Date: c. 1900s

Origin: Unknown

Fabric: Silk/metal brocade, baleen

Brand: Unknown, likely custom made

 

This corset was originally an extremely luxurious garment, with fabric and construction details suggesting a wealthy and privileged owner. It is now in very poor condition, and betrays heavy wear.

The garment is made from just a single layer of silk, which when coupled with the extreme silhouette, suggests that it was a piece made for eveningwear and intended for only occasional wear. Unusually, the silk is a brocade style that incorporates genuine metal threads; although it is now heavily tarnished, it would have originally had an incredible shine to it. It is very unusual to see such a decadent and expensive fabric used in underwear.

The dramatic cut of the corset is achieved with gored patterning at the bust and hip. The garment is structured with a mix of baleen and flat steel bones. It fastens with a busk at the front and metal eyelets and silk lacing at the rear. A petticoat hook is stitched at the lower front of the corset, and would have original hooked through the skirts worn with the garment to prevent them from rising above the corset waist during wear. Flossing embroidery is used on many of the bone channels, a decorative and functional technique used to re-enforce bones within their channels.

The already elaborate exterior is further embellished with ruffled cotton lace trim at the neckline, with a double row of ribbonslot trim of metal thread cord (sadly due to age, this too has tarnished though would have originally had a bright shine to it). The interior of the garment reveals further luxurious details, including a silk waist tape (that has sadly been partially cut out of the garment), and silk velvet facing to the busk fastening.

 

From the collection of Karolina Laskowska

Museum number: KL-2020-002

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