John Singer Sargent’s Portrait of Madame X caused a scandal in its day. The frisson ripples on through John Galliano’s new haute couture creations for Dior. Take a look on France 24. And glimpse Giorgio Armani’s latest bid for fashionista transparency.
The prattle behind the prance? Madame X’s plunging neckline is more plausible than Galliano’s menswear inspiration -– the silhouettes of Henry VIII and Richard III.
The strap, by the way, was down when Sargent first exhibited his painting in 1884. Did it promise further revelation? “One more struggle”, wrote a critic in Le Figaro, “and the lady will be free.” Allure, maybe, but wardrobe malfunction was unlikely. As Wikipedia duly notes, Madame X’s bodice was constructed over a metal and whalebone foundation. The jeweled shoulder straps were strictly ornamental.