erotic engineering

Porte-jarretelles, known in the US as a garter belt and in the UK as a suspender belt, is a machine of modest dimensions, designed to hold up women’s stockings. Suspended from a belt that runs around the waist are four strips of elastic fabric that reach out to grab both stockings by the cuff.

For a secure connection to be made, however, an intermediary connective device had to be invented, one that could hold a soft, fragile fabric that was sensitive to strong tensile forces. The problem was complex and multifaceted. Stockings made of silk were extremely delicate and would fare badly if attached to a rigid device. Additionally, there is much stretching and friction in that particular region of the human body, not to mention the considerable strain caused by the independent movement of the legs.

The resulting device consisted of a bottom plate covered with elastic cloth; at the tip of this plate sat a small button, over the top of which would slide a gynomorphic steel-wire clasp. The cloth for the clasp came in three colors: white, black, and pink. In deluxe models, a satin ribbon was folded over the mechanism, mainly for aesthetic reasons, but also to prevent overlaying clothing from getting entangled.

This solution was a piece of engineering so brilliant that later connoisseurs of fashion and historians of engineering and technology reasoned that only the greatest engineer of them all—Gustave Eiffel—could have been its inventor. Therefore a story, as unimaginative as it was apocryphal, began to circulate: that Eiffel’s wife suffered from sagging stockings and that the great man, in a moment of marital understanding, sat down at the kitchen table and drew a sketch of a new device—a garter belt designed around the famous slip-clasp.

I found the above information about my favourite lingerie item after typing “Erotic Engineering” into google. It’s an intriguing phrase also encountered here in an article written by John Ryle and published in the Guardian in 1998

The RuPaul lookalike in a lace microskirt plying his trade on the Avenida Augusto Severo in downtown Rio is one of the wonders of the world. His eyelashes are like spider’s webs; his hair, straightened and dyed, tumbles to his shoulders; his decolletage would put Pamela Anderson to shame. And there are others. They are wearing satin hot-pants, leather bikinis and denim cut-offs, carmine lipstick and six-inch heels: all the dress-sense of international hookerdom.

Ru Paul found here

During carnival in Rio, men en travesti are highly visible, on the street, in the pages of glossy magazines, and on the floats of some minor samba schools. There are even carnival groups that parade entirely in drag. These are mostly amateurs, though, out for the day. They would not want to be called travestis, a word that, in Brazilian Portuguese, normally implies a sex worker. For professional travestis the partial inversion of social order that is one of the features of carnival – and the unrestrained pursuit of pleasure that accompanies it – are a year-round phenomenon.

Travesti found here

Hormones and injections of silicone simulate female secondary characteristics. Nips and tucks do the rest. What travestis do not go in for are sex-change operations. Such operations are illegal anyway in Brazil, despite its reputation as the world capital of cosmetic surgery. But this is not why travestis don’t go the whole way; it is because, by their account – and there is no other available source of information – their clients are looking for a sexual partner who is neither male nor female, but a paradoxical combination of the two, a sexual chimera, a fantasy of polymorphous perversity, with the look and feel of the feminine and the penetrative capacity of the male.

image found here

There’s a book about this, just published in Brazil, called Erotic Engineering, an assemblage of photographs and interviews with travestis – and one or two of their mothers. I was sitting on the plane home reading it. It’s a curious book, halfway between a medical text and a chat-show transcript, with pictures to make your eyebrow stud rattle. It certainly kept my neighbour’s elbow off the armrest.

image found here

you look like a fabulous chicken

In 1962, writer Liz Smith had dreams of being discovered as a newer sexier version of Estelle Parsons. Hanging out with her friends Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton gave her plenty to write about…..

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“While we wait for Elizabeth to have Alexandre do her hair, I overhear a secretary ordering lingerie from Henri Bendel. Someone is always ordering lingerie around the Burtons. You visualize a world of hotel suites with lovely once-worn panties, bras, slips and body stockings left behind and delighted maids exclaiming over the windfall. Richard, on the other hand, claims to have only six sets of drawers to his name. He declares either he or his wife washes out a pair nightly.

lingerie made from discarded cans

Elizabeth is wearing a coffee-colored suede coat trimmed with a dramatic flounce of fox at the bottom and a matching explosion at the top. Richard is very Southern Californian in a white cardigan and wraparound sunglasses. Alexandre has on something by Cardin, and there’s a bodyguard who is neither introduced, nor distinguished by tailoring. We pile into a robin’s-egg-blue Rolls to go two blocks. All in all, we are as likely to escape notice as an orange tie on St. Patrick’s Day.

nurse’s uniforms by Pierre Cardin

Grand entrance into David Webb’s jewelry emporium on 57th Street. ”I am omniscient and triprescient,” Richard murmurs, as the place dissolves into elegant pandemonium. People are springing to attention as if we were wearing stocking masks.

Elizabeth says to the salesman: ”Well, look, Andrew, what will these three pieces be with my spectacular discount?” She indicates leopard, zebra and serpent rings. ”Never mind — send them to the hotel, and these, too.” She points to a $2,500 lighter and a $29,000 shell purse…..

Zebra Handbag $4995.00

Weeks later she accompanies them to a party in Paris.

The Burtons enter in a crush. Elizabeth is wearing glittering emeralds and white egret feathers worked into her hair with diamonds. As she wedges her way past, I whisper, ”You look like a fabulous chicken.”

She blows a feather out of her face: ”You mean I look like a chicken’s behind.”

Elizabeth

She wiggles her fingers and says, ”Bye, bye,” as she goes down the hall like a delicious snowdrift on legs……

Want to eat like the Burton’s did? Here’s their recipe for Chipped Beef a la Krupp Diamond:

Chipped beef

Flour

Butter

Milk

Curry powder

Hard-boiled eggs.

Shred the chipped beef, dredge in flour. Saute in melted butter in a hot skillet. In a saucepan, make a white cream sauce using three tablespoons of flour and a little milk. Add several pinches of curry powder to this. Serve over the beef. Add a few hard-boiled eggs to dip in sauce, or slice them and place on top. (Elizabeth’s verdict: ”We eat this at high noon; 11 a.m. if it’s ready!”

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Published in: on July 25, 2010 at 7:17 am  Comments (36)  
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corset friday France part 3

Location: Le Chateau de Bruzac, Dordogne, France

Lingerie: purchased by The King (a.k.a “That man from the market”)

Photographer: The King

Permission granted by: QueenWilly

This is the final part in the French series. Just a reminder that next week is T shirt Friday again, so you’ve got 7 days to take a photo of yourself wearing a T shirt, then post it on your blog on June 30th for a link back. Thanks to daisyfae for suggesting the sepia treatment this week and thanks to queenwilly for being so obliging.

Published in: on July 23, 2010 at 8:10 am  Comments (44)  
Tags: , , , ,

corset friday France part 2

Location: Le Chateau de Bruzac, Dordogne, France

Lingerie: purchased by The King (a.k.a “That man from the market”)

Photographer: The King

Permission granted by: QueenWilly

Published in: on July 16, 2010 at 8:10 am  Comments (33)  
Tags: , , , , ,