At first I thought Vogue Italia was kidding…their cover must have been a joke. I took a peak at the Avant-Garde September 2011 issue with cover model, Stella Tennant striking an eerie cold pose. Tennant appears to be freakishly styled in an old pilgrims funeral outfit, decorated with savage body piercings and holding a pair of scissors.
Stella wore her strange costume with conviction but this didn’t overshadow her shockingly small waist line for a minute.Her core looked sucked in and cartoonish, like, about the circumference of an orange. The supermodel should have skipped this shoot with Steven Miesel and gone to lunch instead. I wondered how long the assignment took? How many times did she faint? Was she on her way to her own funeral? I wanted to call her up and say, “Girlfriend, you gotta get off the baby food diet and eat a cheeseburger!”
It turns out that Tennant was playing out the impression of iconic, Ethel Granger, who was clearly avant guard, but in my opinion, not at all stylish. Ethel claimed her fame by making it into the Guinness Book of World Records for her 33 cm waist. Early into Ethel’s marriage with her overbearing husband, William, he talked her into training her figure to look like a wasp. Her hour-glass frame was unnaturally achieved with a ritual of tightly tying her into corsets…day and night. William was a man with a fetish…and Ethal seemed to get a kink out of his attention.
…At the onset of the Grangers marriage, William lacked interest in his wife’s perfectly lovely, womanly figure. He eventually manipulated Ethel into into reducing her waist into a grotesque, circus freak torso. He was also into piercings and would place a finger into the large hooped ring nestled in her nose, pull her forward and give her a kiss. Her piercings seemed to be like a leash. He decorated his own body with self inflicted piercings. She seemed happy to comply with his pleasure…I speculate from mental illness.
I hardly think of this torturous way to treat the body as a fashion statement, or anything that a lady with all her faculties in place would consider. It’s been documented that Ethel chose to eat cat food in the later stages of her life. I can imagine her having a grand old lunch at Gray Gardens with Edie Beale. I would love to be a fly on the wall at that party!
It is true that the Grangers self mutilation practice wasn’t isolated to their estate. The popular magazine Londen Times, documents in letters and stories all sorts of wild tales involving corsets. No, the corset and piercing ritual wasn’t viewed as necessarily being wrong. In a story that William Granger writes about his life with Ethal, he frequently cites conversations about people admiring the”wasp” figure. However, I believe back then, people were much more polite. Or just fuckin’ freaky.
I wonder if the editors of Vogue considered the negative effects of corsets and that fashionista’s will probably ignore warnings like:
A tight corset can also affect the internal organs if it’s worn consistently over a period of time. The stomach, liver and intestines can become misshapen, and the corset can have an adverse effect on digestion and also cause heartburn. If a corset is low-waisted, it can also put pressure on the bladder, causing bladder infections. The pressure on the intestines can result in constipation. In the 19th century, some women had trouble bearing children due to the compression of the organs.
It also makes it hard to breathe and I would imagine, rather gassy.
I get that this is Vogue’s Avant garde issue. But their statement seems insulting and archaic…nothing to celebrate! What’ll be next, a models dipped in latex? Next year, maybe the model should be eating a baby zombie and patting her belly in delight!