For that hourglass shape

THE CORSET is such a chameleon! It pinches the waist in and lends a mark of over-the-top feminity - the ever-wanted "S-bend" curve. This effortless "quick-fix" trick hits the fashion charts like never before.

Squeezing its way back, the corset is a descendant of the 15th century "bodice," which was stiffened by two pieces of linen pasted together. Derived from the French word "corps" which means `body', the corsets were constructed of whalebone pieces inserted as panelling. Worn under a dress, the corsets were laced tightly to thrust the bust forward.

Underwear as outerwear, a `look' made larger than life by Madonna in the 80s, revisits this season. Corsets are out of the closet with ounces of lacing, hook and eye fastenings and boning. Whether as the red leather vamp or a pretty pink Lolita, be prepared to be trussed up this summer. After Hollywood flicks like Titanic, Moulin Rouge and Chicago have hit the Indian screens, corsets have been kicking strong. Wide choice in material makes this item of clothing run all day long.

The original version is replaced by comfortable woven elastic material, which flattens the waist rather than drawing it in. Tortoise boning, transparent synthetic chords, under-wire insertions, panelling and layering techniques are being employed to sculpt this item of clothing.

Style concepts in denim are doing strong. Over-dyed, sand blasted four to seven ounce denim is just right for this season. Suede strings through rust proof aluminium eyelets compliment the contrast double top stitch lines, running into princess panels. Bow shaped bra concepts with Minnie Mouse bows bring in an air of girlie feminity. A functional must, the princess style line makes the corset flatter the Indian body. The corset is just right for a big build (broad shoulders, big chest and big waist) as it supports the bust, takes the eye off the shoulder and shrinks the waist in. It is as right for a petite frame as the corset gifts a cleavage effortlessly.

Apart from denim blues, the corsets take on the vibrant colours of summer (yellow, orange, red, green). Whites with powder tones of any hue make it an ideal daywear. Wear it under a shirt or even over a shirt! Hold them up without a topping if you can. The showstopper still continues to be the all time favourite black corset.

Design ideas talk of acres of lacing that can be tightly fastened in the front, back, either sides or both the sides. Also, hook and eye fastenings are carriers of high style and oomph! This season features ideas that have elasticised backs as much as it features non-elasticised versions (with zippers) sculpting flesh into "that" hourglass shape. For those who ignite style in a sporty way, squeeze into knit versions with interesting "Americana" chest prints.

For that hourglass shape

With a boom of surface design techniques this season, the corset is not behind. Embroidered, printed, encrusted, the corsets this season are funky and trendy as they are elegant and classy. Style pointers are block-printed, painted with Indian mythological characters embroidered on rich Indian traditional textiles. Chinese floral silk prints with rah-rah skirts are on top of the fashion tree.

Brocades and mesh in metallica are ruling the hearts of Indian designers. Also, the corset is offering something "else" for a sari blouse or the choli. The transparent spaghetti straps, staplers or short-sleeved versions - all are sailing strong.

Dresses with the same hints are a high this summer. Pointers indicate - stretch satin dresses laced all the way up the sides; cheongsam dresses with Chinese dragons snaking down the sides; floaty chiffon dresses with girdle waist fastenings.

Unlike the Victorian and Edwardian eras, the corset takes on a more versatile face. This ideal topping could be pulled with saris for formal dos, with pants for clubbing or with jeans or skirts for a luncheon.

During its inception, corsetry was tough against the skin. Today, it is a lot more flexible. From a costume it had deftly been engineered into a garment that does not show what you don't want to be seen and shows what you want to be seen. So, squeeze into this chameleon covering and get the right grip for the season.