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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Body Adorned: The Art of Couture, August 4, 2011
This review is from: Extreme Beauty: The Body Transformed (Metropolitan Museum of Art Series) (Paperback)
EXTREME BEAUTY is one of the more interesting challenges for a museum exhibition one could imagine. But miraculously the Metropolitan Museum pulled it off and this catalogue documents that very popular exhibition. The catalogue/monograph is an art work itself, so well designed it is with beautifully balanced photography and text. It is refreshing to sit and study these pages of accoutrements to the world of fashion when our eyes are so blurred with the skimpy, minimal clothing seemingly designed to displayed the growing obsession with complex and multicolored tattoos we see on the ladies of the day.

The catalogue, like the exhibition, is divided into Neck and Shoulders, Chest, Waist, Hips, and Feet - five areas where the focus is restricted to each area mentioned but never confined or isolated in regards to the rhythm of the design of the entire outfit. Each section displays cultural fashions form around the world, each culture emphasizing different body parts. This is an historical survey of the many changes that have occurred throughout the past. As one observer phrased the exhibition 'Over time and across cultures, extraordinary manipulations of the body have occurred in a continuing evolution of the concept of beauty. This exhibition will offer a unique opportunity to see fashion as the practice of some of the most extreme strategies to conform to shifting concepts of the physical ideal. Various zones of the body--neck, shoulders, bust, waist, hips, and feet--have been constricted, padded, truncated, or extended through subtle visual adjustments of proportion, less subtle prosthesis, and often deliberate physical deformation. Costumes in the exhibition--ranging from a 16th-century-style iron corset to Jean Paul Gaultier's notorious "Madonna" bustier--will be augmented by anthropological and ethnographic examples and by paintings, prints, and drawings, including caricatures by Cruikshank, Daumier, Rowlandson, and Vernet.'

These fashions and the at times inflictions one the body the neck stretching gold bands, the perilous shoes, the anti-inspiratory bodices, the flagrantly sexy male codpieces that were supposed to attract the attention of ladies in the period in Europe after the plague decimated the population - sort of a reproductive advertisement - all are fascinating and at times beyond belief, except that they are all real and historically documented. This is a beautiful catalogue of a magnificent exhibition in the Costume Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Grady Harp, August 11
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Initial post: Mar 4, 2012 10:57:27 AM PST
Gary B says:
You write beautifully!!!
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Review Details

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Reviewer

Grady Harp
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   

Location: Los Angeles, CA United States

Top Reviewer Ranking: 71