In the great capitals of the world, prior to 1910, there were many corsetierers who had extensive facilities for assisting young fashionable ladies to acquire the maximum slenderness of waist. Some corset shops catered entirely to the Tiny Waist trade, and many of the larger shops made cultivation of extremely small waists a speciality.
It was in the summer of 1910 that Madame V–––– visited the principal cities on the Continent and in America to study this condition prior to establishing a similar department in connection with her corset business in her native city, to take care of a constant increase in the very small size requirements.
A Vienna Salon.
A corsetieré in Vienna had established a Tiny Waist Salon and Training Room. It was a sumptuously furnished, large room, and here her models were trained daily for demonstrations to the trade, and in those days, smallness of waists was the aim of all well-dressed ladies.
It was here that we saw the “Pipe Stem” waist for the first time, and the most remarkable case of tight-lacing I think that has ever been developed. The lacing apparatus consisted of a Lacing Bar which hung in the centre of the room suspended from the ceiling, on the walls and parallel with the bar were two small snap winches for winding up the laces, and at either end of the room, in front and in back of the bar were long, wall mirrors so that the person being laced in could view the result on her figure.
The Model’s Ordeal.
The little model now came forward wearing, a richly embroidered kimono, which the removed, revealing a beautifully proportioned figure. She was clad in black, silk tights, and wore knee-high, lace boots of all black, patent leather, with four-inch heels. She was corsetted but not very tightly. Madame removed the corset and unwound many yards of elastic band which had been wound tightly around her waist. When the band had been removed, the model presented a very astonishing appearance, her uncorsetted figure plainly showed its deformity, the ribs were forced far inward, showing the effect of the cruelly tight corsets she was constantly wearing. A tape measure passed around her body showed that her waist was just 18½ inches.
Training the Waist.
After slipping on a dainty, little black silk vest, Madame placed a small girdle known as the “Inner Belt” around the model’s waist. It was arranged for lacing at four points, front and back and either side, this belt was filled with heavy steels and was the same measurement at top and bottom, so that when it was evenly laced it would produced a perfect stem, in this case Madame said the belt was thirteen inches in circumference and five inches from top to bottom. It was quickly adjusted into place and laced to sixteen inches. The model then stepped to a position directly under the bar and the laces in front and in back of the corset were fastened to steel cords which wound around the snap winches. When these were adjusted the model took hold of the two grips attached to the lacing bar and she was raised up until her feet barely touched the floor. Assistants operated the snap winches, the laces were strained and the click, click, click told the slow and even tightening of her figure.
Marvelled at her figure.
Soon she gave the word to halt, the laces were close from top to bottom in front and in back. She was measured and the stem was exactly fifteen inches. The model was lowered, she seemed to be enduring the great pressure very well, though her smile was somewhat forced. She tripped daintily about the room for the scrutiny and personal examination of all present, who marvelled at the dainty figure. With each step her body swayed because of lack of support above and below the belt.
The side laces remained to be tightened. There was an opening of a each side, and in about half-an-hour the model announced that she was ready for the supreme lacing.
Pride Knows No Pain.
As the model appeared quite cheerful and did not show any ill effects, Madame, the corsetieré gave the world to her assistants to proceed with lacing the sides of the inner belt, the laces of which were fastened to the steel cords; click, click, and the cords strained, the model again took hold of the grips on the lacing bar, which was hoisted a few inches and which stretched the little model’s body to the utmost. Madame examined the waist and soon the steady, slow click, click was heard, and gradually five inches of the poor little waist was being forced into a smaller circumference. All the time the model was urging the attendants to “keep it up,” “tighter tighter,” and “don’t stop.” The clicking continued, the laces were almost close, the pressure was tremendous, a pained expression seemed to pass over the little models face. Inquiries from those witnessing the demonstration only brought “Go on!”; “Don’t stop!”; “It’s lovely!”; “I can stand it!”. The clicking continued, the waist was getting smaller and smaller and perfectly unyielding to the touch. The knowledge that only the smallest fraction of an inch remained between her and the possession of the most marvellous “Pipe Stem” waist that had ever been developed, enabled her strand the continuous terrific compression.
The Perfect “Pipe Stem” Waist.
Mind triumphed over matter. The belt had been laced to the limit, the assistants could not tighten it further. Madame placed the tape measure around the “stem” again and announced thirteen-and-a-half inches at all points. She was lowered to the floor on which she could barely stand, and her face seemed very pale, even through the generous application of rouge and powder. Her body below the waist was numb and insensible. She clasped her two little hands around the dainty “stem.” It was smaller on this occasion than it had ever been before by three-quarters of an inch. This made her feel very happy. She tried to walk towards the long mirror but could not without the support of one of the maids. Her body swayed from side to side with each step. As she stood in front of the long mirror her two tiny hands clasping the “stem” as she moved then up and down over the entire length of the “stem.”
A Living Hour Glass.
Oh, how tiny it seemed! She was a living hour glass, a human wasp. The greatest admiration came from the guests present, many of whom were proud possessors of extremely small waists, but none so small, so drastic and cruelly laces as this wonderful little model.
Madame now brought the corset proper which was to fit over the inner belt. It was a dainty garment of black silk trimmed in yellow, boned throughout above and below the “stem,” but at the “stem” there was absolutely no stiffening and none was needed. The assistants placed the corset around the mode’s figure and the final lacing was given, producing a beautiful taper above the stem and very pronounced and beautifully rounded hips, careful measurements were taken which Madame V–––– recorded. These were: – “Stem” over corset, 14 ins. for the entire width of the belt; hips at widest part 32 ins. and bust 34 ins.
The Perfection of Scientific Waist Training.
When she was completely corsetted the model seemed to be at much greater ease, she walked about the chatted with all present. Madame announced the demonstration as the perfection of scientific waist training. To all the guests it was a demonstration of life behind the scenes, what the smiling corset model endured for a dainty waist.
The model was a little French Miss and one of Madame’s most successful models. She was very attractive, not quite eighteen years old, and weighed about 100lb. Her waist was unusually pliable, she had been in the establishment about two years. Her smallest corsets were thirteen inches and it was only during the last six months she had worn “pipe stem” corsets for training and demonstration purposes.