By MIKA ROSS-SOUTHALL
On Thursday night I watched Brian May emerge from underneath a woman’s skirt. Being on stage, commanding an audience – it’s nothing new for Queen’s lead guitarist. What is new is his focus on Victorian crinolines or, to be more precise, stereoscopic photographs of them.
The craze for these undergarments in the mid-nineteenth century coincided with the invention of the stereoscope, May told us last week at the launch of his new book, Crinoline: Fashion’s most magnificent disaster, co-written with Denis Pellerin (they call it a “disaster” because the undergarment was a significant fire hazard: there were around 300 deaths a year from fire accidents during the crinoline’s peak). Stereoscopic cards, dubbed by the press as the “Poor man’s picture gallery”, presented scenes, such as the Egyptian pyramids and crocodiles, in life-like 3-D to a public that had never seen or experienced anything quite like it before.