Frangard’s tribute to the “Tribute”
“Ivy Leaf’s Tribute to the Corsetière.” is 10 years old. How quickly time passes. One of the wonders of the internet has been the way in which information on even the most esoteric subjects has been made available to an amazingly broad section of the world’s population in “open source” sites. Probably the outstanding general open source site has been Wikipedia itself. But, every entry in Wikipedia leads to references found in thousands of specialist open source websites created by selfless enthusiasts of their hobby or interest. For corsets and corsetry that website it is Ivy Leaf’s “Tribute”. Over the past 15 years or so corsetry websites have come and gone. Among the best remembered of those no longer extant are the widely missed “Girdles and More” (G&M), which fell foul of the Data Protection Acts of Europe, and The Virginian’s “GirdleZone”.
Why mention G&M? Well, long standing readers of “Tribute” will recall that it was there that Ivy Leaf first provided her posts on corsetry and girdles. Along with her were other pioneer posters like Alison, Marianne, Roger K and others. It was Ivy Leaf, who had the vision to mobilise their thoughts into action and create a website. It then took the selfless decision of her and her husband to launch and more importantly to maintain and update “Tribute to the Corsetiere”, and it is no small measure of its success, that a quick count of the current Contents Page revealed nearly 170 articles!
Within that decade almost every aspect of corsetry has been given both text and images. Over the years the length of the hour glass of the carefully contrived hour glass image formed by the thoughtfully placed items of the “Corsetry Compendium” has needed regular rework. The international emphasis has been splendid too with almost on corner of the formerly corseted world forgotten.
The Tribute is a remarkable record of corset history of almost every aspect of the matters - the lengths of boning and busks, the merits of hooks and eyes, zips or lacing, the oft forgotten importance of the interplay between a corset, its suspenders and the wearer’s stockings which crucially involved the advise of the “corsetiere” in every way in which that sometimes derided or ridiculed profession was, and is, regarded. From the counter assistants in M&S, to the fitters in the retail and department stores, to the ladies - machinists, models and representatives - of Spirella, Spencer and others. To the bespoke specialist corsetières like Rigby and Peller, A Gardner and Son - and Iris Norris - and Illa Knina?. Not to forget the mail order agencies like Alstons, Beasleys and Wilbro and others.
As we move into an era of Spanx and shapewear, it seems that, on the glamour level, there is a resurgence of interests in corsets as outerwear and even for figure forming and control. When will today’s younger generation return to the glamour of the elegant figure for which good corsetry is or should be de rigueur? We don’t expect them to enter the wonderful world of life inside a fan-lacer of Samuel Higby Camp or Mrs Sarah Ann Jenyns - just get yourself properly corseted, Spirella style - and do it for life.
We, as Ivy Leaf’s readers, are fortunate to have had the Tribute led by a person with the apparently effortless good humour and inspiration of Ivy Leaf herself, due in no small part to her life-long personal determination to live the corseted life inside her beloved Spirella 305s. Over the years no doubt she had to have been encouraged do do so by her admiring spouse to whom she often refers and to whom the thanks of we, the readers, are also due.
As if the Tribute was not enough, after retirement she and her husband branched out and produced the first calendar in 2010. More surprisingly we are fortunate that they never felt that “once was enough” so that a second was produced for 2012 and another calendar is planned for 2013.
Thank you Ivy Leaf! / Frangard, August 2012
image and text from: Ivy Leaf’s Tribute to the Corsetière: http://www.corsetiere.net/Spirella/Contents.htm