Extreme Beauty

The Body Transformed

Harold Koda

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Over time and across cultures, extraordinary manipulations of the body have occurred in a continuing evolution of the concept of beauty. Fashion can be seen as the practice of some of the most extreme strategies to conform to shifting concepts of the physical ideal. Various zones of the body—the neck, the shoulders, the bust, the waist, the hips, and the feet—have been constricted, padded, truncated, or extended through subtle visual adjustments of proportion, less subtle prosthesis, and, often, deliberate physical deformation.

This stunning book shows that an undeniable if uncanny beauty abides in the bundled cylindricality of a geisha tottering on raised geta or clogs; the tea-tray supporting bustle of an 1880s French visiting dress; the double-door expanse of eighteenth-century panniered court gowns; the bound feet and caged nails of aristocratic Manchu women; the neck-extending chokers of the Masai, of Edwardian beauties, and of John Galliano’s designs for Dior; or the waist suppression of the sixteenth-century iron corsets and the cinches of early-nineteenth-century dandies. The photographs of fashion are augmented by paintings, prints, and drawings, including caricatures by Gilray, Cruikshank, Daumier, and Vernet.

Harold Koda is Curator of The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Received Second place in the Popular Culture category given by ForeWord Magazine

“Enlightening and very readable. . . . This book is essential for costume collections.”—Library Journal

Extreme Beauty explores how different cultures defined beauty and gives examples of fashions stimulated by their customs.”—Gemma Hayward, The Independent (London)

“[This] well-produced, heavily illustrated volume makes costume history accessible and, indeed, entertaining.”—Colin McDowell, The Sunday Times

“This story of fashion’s language presents a fascinating and parallel glimpse into human history. Koda’s collection in Extreme Beauty is a landmark study of human customs and foibles in remarkable photos and intriguing text that show us what is and has been ‘in’ around the world.”—Susan Swartout, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley

ISBN: 9780300103120
Publication Date: February 9, 2004
Publishing Partner: Published in association with The Metropolitan Museum of Art
192 pages, 9 x 12
228 color illus.
100 Dresses

The Costume Institute / The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Preface by Harold Koda

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100 Shoes

The Costume Institute / The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Edited by Harold Koda; With an introduction by Sarah Jessic

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Charles James

Beyond Fashion

Harold Koda and Jan Glier Reeder; With a preface by Ralph R

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Metropolitan Museum of Art Series
Echoing Images

Couples in African Sculpture

Alisa LaGamma

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Christo and Jeanne-Claude

On the Way to The Gates, Central Park, New York City

Jonathan Fineberg; Photographs by Wolfgang Volz

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