I was taking a break and turned on the TV; Funny Girl was on. It is a Barbra Streisand movie about and an early Broadway star, Fanny Brice. And so begins my Google searching! The movie took some liberties with the real life of Fanny Brice but Barbra Streisand depicted her fairly accurately. I was surprised how differently Fanny Brice could appear in photographs. I can definitely see the comedic actress but she wasn’t that ugly.
Next, I looked up the Ziegfeld Follies. They were put on by Florenz Ziegfeld and were around for around 25 years starting around 1910. I guess they were sort of a cross between more modern Broadway musicals and vaudeville. The chorus girls, or Ziegfeld Girls, were famous for being beautiful, but I was surprised at how risqué most of their pictures were. I guess they were the pinups of their time. Reading a bit more, I found out that many stars got their start as a Ziegfeld Girl (but I recognized more that were turned down by Flo Ziegfeld).
Lillian Lorraine was considered the most famous of the Ziegfeld Girls. Apparently, she had an affair with Flo Ziegfeld and he loved her even after their affair ended. I looked up her image and was surprised… I think she wasn’t that good looking.
Researching even more, I found out that the Ziegfeld Girls were preceded by the Floradora Girls. Floradora was the first of a series of musicals during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s that became really popular. These chorus girls were not nearly as risqué as the Ziegfeld Girls. Amazing what a difference about fifteen years can make!
And before the Floradora Girls were the Gibson Girls. I was expecting the Gibson Girls to be similar to the Floradora and Ziegfeld Girls. But, instead of being chorus girls on stage, they were a illustrations by an artist, Charles Dana Gibson. Not real. In fact, very not real. I know, that is not grammatically correct but I couldn't believe how unrealistic he depicted women. He combined two different standards of beauty into an impossible ideal; he wanted a “fragile lady” with the “voluptuous woman”. In order to reproduce the look of a Gibson Girl, women needed to lean forward and have a tightly cinched waist. In fact, in order to maintain such a ridiculous posture, a special corset was developed to allow women to depict this artist's ideal.
|Edwardian S-Curve Corset|