Ask Morgana 048: Fashion’s hinterland

I promise that I am not going to do this very often. However, I still do attract some comments via email from people who think I regard the ‘Belle Époque’ through rose-tinted glasses. Though it is the images of beauty, both conventional and unconventional, that I wish to portray in these posts, I am all too aware of what lay behind the finished product. So in this post I intend to drill down, in four photographs, and uncover a small handful of truths.

The first photograph is an interior shot from the fashion house of Callot Soeurs in Paris 1910. The second, from the same year, is of a fashion workshop. The third is of a child working in a textile mill. The fourth is of an overseer, workers, and children in a cotton field in West Point, Mississippi, in 1908. The latter scene, part of a bigger picture, can hardly have changed since emancipation, little more than forty years before. That last picture raises an interesting side-issue. From time to time I am asked how anyone in the Dominance/submission lifestyle can justify making the institution of slavery into a personal plaything. It is an interesting question and not one that can be answered in brief, so I shall return to it another day.

In the mean time, my next post will return to the subject of beauty.

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