The essay "Fashion - critical and cultural studies" concerns the feminine fashion. The durability and versatility of the corset as a defining garment is almost as astonishing as its continuing appeal. Even after it lost its widespread popularity, the continued use of the corset in Hollywood depictions of the feminine preserved its use, established its historic connotations and illustrated how it symbolized something larger than itself. Contemporary fashion has given the corset a new lease on life as women continue to turn to this garment as a means of identification within the modern world. Although the corset has traditionally been viewed as a symbol of female submission, any intrinsic meaning is subject to wide interpretation. “What the immediate meaning usually comes from is available imagery, past or present, the suggestive pictures that have pervaded public consciousness and are loaded with shared associations”. The tight-lacing of the 17th and 18th centuries indicate the degree to which the corset was considered a means of female sexual expression and define ideas of female beauty. Understanding how the corset has been used in Hollywood, revitalized in cult fashions and re-introduced in high fashion illustrates how it can operate to convey female submission and aggressive sexuality depending upon the internal and external factors at play in its design and use within modern fashion. Hollywood and the big name movie producers have employed the corset in any number of ways from the beginning of the industry. The corset was already used in everyday dress when ‘Hollywood’ emerged and it was already a strategic garment in Vaudeville and Broadway. Even then, women craved the fashions they saw on stage depending upon the persona of the actress and the intentions of the wearer. Broadway and Vaudeville star Anna Held is the first great example of the corset as a defining garment of the female character. Most of her fame was not attributed to her singing voice, but rather to “her rolling eyes, eighteen inch waist and naughty songs”. As is shown in Figure 1, Held continued the practice of tight-lacing in order to portray an enticing, sexually appealing woman with a tiny waist and accented upper features.
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8 pages (2000 words)Essay
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