Leotards

   A leotard is a tight-fitting elastic garment that worn by ballet dancers, and covers the entire torso. The romantic story behind this garment deals with its use by daredevil circus aerialists and goes back more than a hundred years.
   Jules Leotard (1842-1870), born in Toulouse, France, was an aerialist almost from birth, according to his Memoirs. This small volume stated that his parents could control his crying only by hanging him upside down from a trapeze.
   When Leotard grew to manhood, he became the star attraction in Paris's Cirque Napoleon, at which he introduced his exciting innovation: the flying trapeze. Such acrobatics had never been seen before, and the audience was amazed. Then he gave them reason for more amazement: Performing on a taut wire high above the ground, he performed an aerial somersault, the first of its kind.
   Leotard's name persists, however, not because he was Europe's most famous and colorful acrobatic circus performer, but because in an 1859 circus act in Paris, he wore an audacious one-piece, skin-tight bodysuit that revealed every curve and rippling muscle in his body. This garb, designed by this great performer, has borne the name leotard ever since. Though the leotard has been well-received the advice he offered men in his Memoirs was not. "Do you want to be adored by the ladies?" he wrote. "A trapeze is not required, but instead of draping yourself in unflattering clothes, invented by ladies and which give us the air of ridiculous manikins, put on a more natural garb, which does not hide your best features" (italics supplied). And what garb was meant? Of course the leotard.

Dictionary of eponyms. . 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

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