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By Catherine Alice Michaelis
Shelton, Washington: May Day Press, 2007. Edition of 90.

4.5 x 10.25"; 26 gown-shaped pages. Patterning and decorative techniques include photopolymer, metal ornaments, and pressure prints letterpress printed. Paper: Arches Text Wove with Goudy Ornate and Deepdene. Handcolored Karakusa and Asahi supplements. Housed in patterned purple cloth clamshell box.

Organized in the main chronologically, this account of changes in style and fashion of women's underwear posits reasons for change — in the main, shifting power relationships and technological developments – from ancient times to the present.

Catherine Alice Michaelis: "[The book] has 5 prints inside - pressure prints of historical underwear I fashioned from Barbie clothes, altered clothes, and clothes I made for the book. It has 7 pages of professionally edited text. "

"A Revealing History of Women’s Underwear was inspired by a combination of seeing two items together. One was an altered book, its pages folded back from the corners, changing the shape of the pages (probably Roger Piottin’s work). Next to it was a print of a woman in Victorian dress, her hooped skirts echoing the 3-D shape of the altered book. I instantly saw a book that would be shaped like a dress that would open to reveal the underwear worn underneath.

"Researching the text brought me many surprises. One was that I had never given thought to most of our underwear history being above the waist, and not below. This immediately changed my ideas about the book shape. I was also surprised to learn that underclothes were worn to protect the outerclothes from the body, which was infrequently washed. It was very revealing to study the changes in modesty, less and more, back and forth, through the centuries. Most of the research for this book is European history, and the changes in the Royal Court, politics, and class can all be studied through the lens of underwear history. I was fascinated. It seems we are, after all, what we wear."


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