Tightlacing is an exquisite art form not to mention very erotic. In the early years of the 20th Century, when corsets were common practice. When tightlacing was not the rarity that is is now. One woman wore her corsets better than most. Camille Clifford.
Born 29th June 1885 in Antwerp, Belgium. After a nomadic childhood travelling around Europe. Clifford was discovered when she won a modelling contest. This lead to her acting career whilst living in Boston. Eventhough Clifford was not a leading lady, with more walk on parts eye. She was successful and famous, thanks to her beauty in addition to her talent. Privately, Clifford lead a relatively uneventful life. She gave up acting during her first marriage to Capt Henry Lyndhurst Bruce. After his death in 1914 Clifford made a comback to the stage, she made her curtain call at the end of WWI (1918). Acting may have been her career, maybe even her passion. But history remembers (and why she is featured here) Clifford for her radiant beauty; and for one feature in particular. Her awe inspiring hourglass figure.
What I find so inspiring about tightlacing is that there is nothing ‘natural’ about it. When we admire someone with say, long legs; you need to be born with them. You cannot but them, try some exercises to lengthen the bones. If this not in your genetics? Tough luck. You do not need to be naturally curvy to have an hourglass frame. Skinny, athletic, tall, short etc is no barrier thanks to corsets. Given that women were ‘larger’ back in Edwardian society, I guess that Clifford was buxom. How controlled her figure was without the aid of a corset, is anyone’s guess. What happened in Clifford’s case, was the exaggeration of the ideal look.
Fortunately pin up artist Charles Dana Gibson, saw Clifford’s curves as a wonder of the world that needed to be immortalised. His Gibson Girl was like all pin up artists before and since, his ideal woman. Around the early 1900’s Clifford was one of his most famous models capturing her wasp waist in all its glory.
Died one day before her 86th birthday.
Fashion and beauty, by their nebulous nature do not survive the passing of time. They are capsules that represent their era, both socially and aesthetically. So for any image of beauty to survive and thrive over 100 hundreds years is extraordinary. While the big bouffant, dress sense are, well drab. Her immense waist has endured and will likely be enjoyed by those of us who regale and adore the female form.