A Collection of Photos featuring the Incredibly Tightlaced Entertainer Polaire

Polaire (“Pole Star”), (real name Pauline Emilie-Marie Bouchard ) was Born in Algeria in 1874. She was a French music hall singer, dancer and actress. Her most successful period professionally was from the mid-1890s to the beginning of the First World War.

In France she had quickly made a name for herself and Toulouse-Lautrec portrayed her on a magazine cover in 1895. She then briefly tried her luck in New York, but without achieving major success. On her return to Paris she extended her range and went on to act in serious theatre. In 1909 she started to appear in silent films. In 1910 she returned to the musical stage and began a second tour of the United States, after which she appeared at the London Coliseum.

She struggled to find stage or screen roles as she aged. She returned to films in 1922, but in the declining years of her career had to be content with lesser parts. Her last was in 1935. She passed away in 1939, at age sixty-five, in Champigny-sur-Marne, Val-de-Marne, France. Her body was buried at the Cimetière du Centre, in the eastern Paris suburb of Champigny-sur-Marne.

Throughout her career Polaire was skilled in using her appearance to attract attention. In her early days as a café singer in the 1890s she wore very short skirts and also cropped her hair, fashions that did not become common in the rest of society until the 1920s. A brunette, she wore unusually heavy eye makeup, deliberately evocative of the Arab world. At a time when tightlacing among women was in vogue, she was famous for her tiny, corsetted waist, which was reported to have a circumference no greater than 16 inches (410 mm).  This accentuated her large bust, which was said to measure 38 inches (970 mm). She stood 5 feet 3 inches (1.60 m) tall. Her striking appearance, both on and off stage, contributed to her celebrity. For her 1910 supposed “debut” in New York she provocatively allowed herself to be billed in the advance publicity as “the ugliest woman in the world” and departing on a transatlantic liner she was apparently accompanied by a “black slave”. Returning to America in 1913, she brought a diamond-collared pet pig, Mimi, and wore a nose-ring. Talk of her figure and her lavish overdressing in fur coats and dazzling jewels preceded her appearances wherever she went.

Polaire showing of her waist, 1900

Polaire pretending to read via

Carte F.C & Cie – Cliché Boyer & Bert – Vers 1905

Polaire wearing a trademark coat

Polaire dans Le Friquet – Octobre 1904

Polaron on stage, 1904 via

Polaire with her “Black Slave” via

Amazing Photos of Style Icon & Gibson Girl Camille Clifford (1885 – 1971)

Camilla Antoinette Clifford (1885 – 1971) was a Belgian-born stage actress and the most famous model for the “Gibson Girl” illustrations. Her towering coiffure and hourglass figure defined the Gibson Girl style.

Clifford was born on 29 June 1885 in Antwerp, Belgium to Reynold Clifford and Matilda Ottersen. Camille was raised in Sweden, Norway and Boston. In the early 1900s she won US$2000 in a magazine contest sponsored by illustrator Charles Dana Gibson to find a living version of his Gibson Girl drawings: his ideal woman.Clifford became an actress, performing in the United States from 1902 and in England from 1904. She returned from London to Boston on 3 July 1906.While only playing walk-on, non-speaking roles, Clifford became famous nonetheless: not for her talent, but for her beauty. Her trademark style was a long, elegant gown wrapped around her tightly corseted, eighteen-inch wasp waist.

Photographs of her taken by Lizzie Caswall Smith in 1905 often appear in historical fashion books and on websites to illustrate the Edwardian style.

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Camille Clifford via

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Camille Clifford via

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Camille Clifford via

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Camille Clifford via

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Camille Clifford via

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Camille Clifford via

A Collection of Turn of the Century Fashion Photographs

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Otto Sarony, Portrait of Evelyn Nesbit, 1900s via

Tightlaced Gibson Girl, Camille Clifford, showing her ideal La Belle Époque figure via

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Edwardian lady wearing Redfern, who among other things popularised high-waisted Grecian style dresses after 1908 via

Dress for the races by J. Dukes, photo by Reutlinger, Les Modes, May 1912 via

A fashionable woman at the races in 1909. Scanned from the book “The Mechanical Smile” by Caroline Evans via

Gorgeous Edwardian dresses, hats and parasols. Toilettes vues aux Grand Prix. Irlande et linon brodé de la grande Maison de Dentelles, 1906. Belle epoque fashion.

Gorgeous Edwardian dresses, hats and parasols, 1906. Belle epoque fashion via

Lily Elsie...can't help but think how pretty she looked.

Actress Lily Elsie in an Ewdardian gown via

Raoul Dufy textile design on velvet for Paul Poiret cape 1911 via The Humanities Exchange, Montreal, Canada

Raoul Dufy was one of the great innovators of 20th century textile design here is an example on velvet for a Paul Poiret cape 1911 via

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Woman wearing French fashion. ca. 1905 via

Fashion, ca. 1914 via

Antique photo postcard of Edwardian beauty with a large hat and a snowfox stole around her shoulders via