Extreme Beauty: The Body Transformed

Koda, Harold (2001)

This title is out of print.

Book of the Year Award (ForeWord) in Art (2001)

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Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History (12)
Extreme Beauty: The Body Transformed

Over time and across cultures, extraordinary manipulations of the body have occurred in a continuing evolution of the concept of beauty. This exhibition offers 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 sixteenth–century–style iron corset to Jean Paul Gaultier's notorious "Madonna" bustier—are augmented by anthropological and ethnographic examples and by paintings, prints, and drawings, including caricatures by Cruikshank, Daumier, Rowlandson, and Vernet.

Among the designers represented in the exhibition are Elsa Schiaparelli, Gilbert Adrian, Cristobal Balenciaga, Thierry Mugler, Vivienne Westwood, Norma Kamali, Rei Kawakubo, Jean Paul Gaultier, John Galliano for Dior Haute Couture, Roger Vivier, Alexander McQueen for Givenchy Haute Couture, Yohji Yamamoto, and Yves Saint Laurent.