Stories

Revealing the iron corset

Iron corsets began to appear from the 16th century onwards, and historians still dispute the purpose and function of these rare and curious garments. There are approximately 15 iron corsets in museum collections around the world, including two in Wellcome Collection and as Elizabeth McFadden discovered, these intriguing objects still hold clues about who would have worn them and for what purpose.  

Words by Elizabeth McFadden

  • In pictures

About the author

Photograph of Elizabeth McFadden

Elizabeth McFadden

Dr Elizabeth McFadden earned her PhD at the University of California, Berkeley, where she wrote her dissertation on the iconographic and cultural history of fur dress in English and Dutch portraiture. She was a Kress Fellow at the Courtauld Institute of Art and has interned at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.