Vogue Italia Avant-Garde September 2011 issue with Stella Tennant staring and styled weirdly, showing only 13 inches of her waist pays a tribute to Ethel Granger, a woman who has tightened herself into corsets and experimented with piercings and jewelry. Granger is in the Guinness Book of Records for her 33 cm waist. While many bloggers seem to love to see something new on the cover of a fashion mag such as Vogue for a change, for me it’s not too appealing.
I mean I have no problem with tight-lacing and whatnot cause tastes can really differ immensely, but something’s off for me in this one. It’s that thing you know, when something is not outright wrong but it still feels kinda…wrong? After all Granger’s husband had a fetish for thin waists and piercing and persuaded his wife to wear a corset during the body-emancipated flapper period, days and nights to keep her waist reducing. Would she start this body modification if it wasn’t for him?
It’s also a matter in question – to what extent one would go just for fashion? Because as we see it everyday there are things that many times come in conflict with the fashion fads and the main one is health. In the article on Ethel Granger Vogue Italia writes:
One cannot deny that William Arnold Granger was one of the harshest taskmasters in the history of fashion, on woman’s efforts for style he wrote: “if she can outshine other members of her sex in some way, this is a victory worth any amount of suffering”.
A taskmaster of fashion? Mr. Granger was an astronomer. What kind of suffering did he endure for fashion? It’s not that women should stop taking care of their looks but it’s literally impossible to outshine everyone. There is always someone younger, prettier or more stylish. Again we are not talking about keeping fit though healthy diets or something, it’s the squashing-your-intestines kind of fashion that’s gets…praised? Glamorized? You may like it or not be thrilled with it but praising Granger as a fashion taskmaster is a bit too much.
It would be inaccurate to see Ethel and William Granger’s story simply as the sadistic wishes of a demanding sexually perverse husband who wished to cripple his wife: they were a couple that expressed themselves and embraced a subculture that in that period, the late 20s, 30s and 40s, had magazines such as London Life as a point of reference.
What is the point here? Does Vogue Italia want to teach us that if some magazine is a point of reference for a fashion fad then it is okay to take it to extremes? They are right we don’t know what kind of family Grangers were. But this obsession with a certain fashion can be and is crippling youngsters and adults today. The fashion praised thin models girls were starving themselves literally to death, then fashion has coined a term plus-size and now obese people have an excuse not to shed weight. What are you encouraging now? Thin waist? Isn’t that a bit old?
My point is that Grangers may be notable for not going with the mainstream fashion that defied corsets and high heels. Although I can’t bear the thought of it being all his initiative not hers. But it did get extreme. And that should not be praised. Extreme fashion may be interesting as art but it is too easy to give an impressionable mind an idea that this is what beautiful.
Another thing I find controversial is that whenever a celeb tries on a Gothic outfit or makeup for an outing he or she is slammed by same fashion mags and blogs for lack of fashion sense that now praise the new Vogue Italia cover.
In case you are interested Stella Tennant is wearing a black Prada coat with a pink pointed collar while her waist is digitally cinched to imitate that of Ethel Granger’s. What do you think about it?
- ethel granger
- Stella Tennant