An excerpt from a recent book by Special Collections associate April Calahan ’09

PLATE 129: La France élégante, c. 1885.
G. Gonin (artist).

PLATE CAPTION: La France élégante et Paris élégante réunis. Offices: 3, rue du Quatre Septembre, Paris. Ensembles by Madame Pepouey, 6, rue de Provence. Trimmings and embellishments by the House of J. Toche, 45, rue Turbigo. Perfume from Oriza L. Legrand, supplier to the Court of Russia, 207, rue St. Honoré.

With so many options available, bustle manufacturers used strategic marketing techniques to distinguish their product from the myriad of others in the marketplace. One bustle in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, dating to the period of the plate seen here, was given the name “The New Phantom,” and the woven cotton twill tapes that wrap around the waist have been printed with the phrase “The New Phantom. Beware of spurious imitations.
See that every bustle bears the Trade Mark ‘Phantom.’ ”1 Other manufacturers played the celebrity card, naming their bustles after famous actresses and celebrities of the day. One novelty bustle produced in 1887 commemorated Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, the fiftieth year of her reign, with the insertion of a music box that played “God Save the Queen” each time the wearer took a seat.

1. Victoria and Albert Museum, “The New Phantom.”

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PLATE 141: Journal des demoiselles, 1895.

PLATE CAPTION: No. 5028. Journal des demoiselles et petit courrier des dames réunis. Fashions of Paris. 14, rue Drouot. Ensembles by Mesdames Forgillon, 165, rue St. Honoré (place du Théâtre Français). Corsets by Madame Emma Guelle, 3, place du Théâtre Français. Fabrics from the House of Roullier Brothers, 27, rue du Quatre Septembre. Perfume, Houbigant, 19, rue du Faubourg St. Honoré.

There is nothing novel about women’s desire for a fuller bust. To create the appearance of a larger bosom, women of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries utilized what were known as “bust improvers.” Comprising a vast array of devices or “tricks,” bust improvers ranged from simple padding to linings with interior ruffles that created extra volume at the chest, as well as wire-and-whalebone contraptions that masqueraded as lingerie by concealing their rigid understructures with lace and ribbon. A design popular in the 1890s was the “Lemon Cup” model, which contained coiled springs hidden within its horsehair padding. When sandwiched between form-fitting exterior garments and the breasts, the lemon cup’s coils forced the padding outward, amplifying a woman’s natural curves.