Corset was made on the island of Crete as a wide skin belt and was used by both women and men, as everyone wanted to be attractive. Women of Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece wore belts, tightened below the breast to emphasize bust. In the Gothic era (mid XII - first half of XV century) female corset turned into rigid "harness": wooden and metal bars were sewn into cotton lining of dresses and tightened with back, front and side lacings. Morning dress was a real pain: corset stuck into body and ladies fainted because of poor blood circulation. Beauty demands sacrifice, and the fun has just begun.
The worst time of "corset mania" has been during the Inquisition, when beautiful women with curves have been proclaimed devil incarnates and culprits of all possible disasters. Corset of that time was a metal frame with screws and leather inserts, which tightened everything from chest to hips. It was an instrument of flesh suppression and protection against temptation. Attractive and seductive curves were hidden from prying eyes, women obediently squeezed into tight corsets, virtue was above all!
French Queen Catherine de Medici was so zealous advocate of corset that she ordered court ladies to make their waist 13 inches!
Women came to the queen hardly breathing: corset squeezed abdomen and chest. Ribs were deformed; something unimaginable happened to internal organs: modern experts believe that corset was one of the reasons of high female mortality rate those days.
Corsets changed again in the Baroque era. They were made of whalebone and tightened waist only; "hourglass" became the perfect silhouette. Everybody wore corsets: girls, ladies, women and respectable matrons. Refuse to wear it was amount to suicide. Breathing became possible again only after the French Revolution, which occurred in 1789: among other things, it brought relief to women's fashion. Waistline has moved up to breast, Empire style has gained incredible popularity, and corset has virtually disappeared as not wanted.
But ... in 1821 it came back again! Cunning fashion changed again: waistline returned to its place and it had to be wasp again.
Talks about the fact that corset is harmful to health began only in the late XIX century, but corset was still an integral part of female wardrobe. Its models changed one by one... In the 1910s, for example, designers first proposed to tighten not only waist, but hips also. And then it was all over: emancipation began, the First and then the Second World Wars burst. Image of a fragile lady became old-fashioned.
1950's were swansong for corset together with presentation of the new look collection of Christian Dior, which glorified narrow waist and rounded hips line.
Then naturalness, thinness, aerobics and fitness have been coming into fashion gradually.
In the 1990s, a bold move was made by Madonna: her fans still remember the daring satin corset with cone-shaped cups. At the same time a temptress Dita Von Teese drove man crazy with her waist. Such stars as Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Simpson, Britney Spears, and Rihanna were also spotted in corsets, but ... all this is the last echo of the time of ladies with hourglass waists.