Exhibition: Extreme Beauty: The Body Transformed

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

It's easy to laugh at such follies as the 1903 ad for "Men's Corsets, An Absolute Necessity," or the male stockings with fake calf muscles, but many of the body-distorting items in this exhibition are recent fashion misstatements. Categorized by anatomy--feet, waist, chest--this show is most surprising not when comparing Victorian support garments to the 2000 Issey Miyake bustier (above) but in its cross-cultural references. The Mongo women of Zaire, for example, wore a belt that looks like the tail of a Playboy Bunny.

--By Belinda Luscombe

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