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Bustle - The New Phantom

The New Phantom

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain, Uk (designed)

  • Date:

    ca. 1884 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (production)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Steel wires and cotton tapes

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Miss Mary Montefiore

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Fashion, room 40, case X14

The bustle had first appeared in the late 1860s. It was then part of the 'crinolette', in which excess fabric left over from the once bell-shaped skirts was draped over the hips and bunched up behind. By the 1870s, the bustle had become a separate undergarment in its own right. The new form of bustle was known as a 'tournure' or 'dress-improver', as the word 'bustle' was considered vulgar by Victorian ladies.

Bustles were made in a variety of fabrics, including silk, cashmere, flannel, brightly printed cottons and horsehair. They were often trimmed with lace. Some were constructed almost entirely of steel, others resembled colourful cushions. They could be stuffed with horsehair, down and even straw to achieve the desired fullness.

The bustle was secured to the body by tapes, which were tied around the waist and hips, over the petticoat, and often under the bottom. These tapes were normally adjustable and could be pulled to achieve a different shape or vary the size of the bustle.

Many manufacturers named their bustle designs after popular figures of the time. This bustle is similar to the 'Lillie Langtry', named after the well known actress. The steel wires are attached to a pivot, so they folded in on themselves when the wearer sat down and sprang back when she rose. A novelty bustle made to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee contained a musical box which played 'God Save the Queen' each time the wearer sat down.

Place of Origin

Great Britain, Uk (designed)


ca. 1884 (designed)


Unknown (production)

Materials and Techniques

Steel wires and cotton tapes

Marks and inscriptions

'The New Phantom. Beware of spurious imitations. See that every bustle bears the Trade Mark 'Phantom'

Exhibition History

Undressed: 350 Years of Underwear in Fashion (Victoria & Albert Museum Gallery 40 Fashion 16/04/2016-05/02/2017)

Labels and date

Registered designs

New designs for undergarments were often named and registered. This prevented copying and encouraged customers to buy the latest styles.

Brown's "Dermathistic" corset, of 1883, featured leather-faced bones and steels. The company claimed that these made the corset stronger and more durable.

Stapley & Smith's 'New Phantom' collapsible bustle frame was a simplified version of its 'Keelapso' bustle, registered this year before in 1887.

The corset and bustle are displayed with combinations, which were widely worn from the mid 1870s. [16/04/2016-12/03/2017]

Production Note

The New Phantom Rebd. No. 72855 Patent Applied for.


Fashion; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection code


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