Corset sales are up, even in lockdown, as the nation binge-watches glossy costume dramas. But even in the 18th century, the cantilevered look could be fraught
Can cleavage ever be a plot device? The 18th-century Russian court, as visualised in The Great, a bonkers new satire from Hulu and Channel 4, is a hotbed of moral iniquity, vodka and bears. But, like most costume dramas, it is also about breasts.
Take Lady Svenska, a courtier hellbent on ousting Catherine the Great. We know from her decolletage that she’s a baddie long before she calls Catherine “a bitch” for refusing a biscuit. Then there’s Georgina Dymov, the mistress of Catherine’s husband, Peter III, whose libidinal interests are crystallised by the gold-plated pendant pointing directly towards her bosom.