The first farthingale was seen in the 1500's and universally acknowledged as the Spanish Farthingale or Vertingale which constituted of hoops made of wire, wood or whalebone, growing larger towards the bottom ot the skirt. Then the Elizabethan period of the 1600's saw the emergence of the French or the wheel farthingale. Shaped like the wheel with the woman standing right in the centre of it so an all round width was achieved. Then came the Italian one or also known as the bum roll farthingale wherein a sausage like roll was wrapped round the woman's waist with more cushioning at the back. This particular one had a shorter shelf life than the others because the exaggerated emphasis on the behind was considered... ahem.. vulgar. I suppose the tight corseted bosom was distraction enough! In the 1700's the hoops made a comeback only this time instead of the focus being on height, it was width that was considered the height of fashion. The basket like construction was focussed on creating a shape so wide that it was impossible for two women to walk through a door at once or share a couch. Then came on more debate on the indecency of wearing a bustle. Well, this arose largely because sitting down in a bustle would lead to the extreme see-saw like rise of a lady's petticoat. Thereafter which fashion began to take on a silhouette following the natural contours of the body.
That was until now, because the bustle/ farthingale/ hoops - whatever you may call it seems to have gotten a re-kindling by Balenciaga. For some reason it has a very avante garde feeling despite being based on strong historical elements. Probably because of the fabric, the bell pepper shape, the shorter lengths and the lesser layers of petticoats. I dont know but I wonder what happens when you sit in these?