(This is the sixth in a series of posts on eponyms.)
Leotards, a tight-fitting one-piece garment, are worn by various types of athletes and performers, for example, acrobats, dancers, figure skaters, and gymnasts. By the latter part of the 1900s, leotards had also become common attire for exercise. Other types of garments strongly influenced by leotards include one-piece bathing suits, biketards, and unitards.
The leotard was made popular by Jules Léotard (1838/1842-1870). To make sense of that statement, we need a little background that relies on his father’s business:
Part of his father’s gymnasium was a swimming pool which had skylights in the roof and young Leotard was tasked with the job of opening and closing them using their long ropes. He began swinging from rope to rope over the pool. He then started practicing on a swinging bar and developed such grace and skill that his antics drew comments of admiration from his father’s customers.
Before long, Léotard was invited to take his flying trapeze act to a circus in Paris, which necessitated that he be properly outfitted. He insisted on the design of the tight-fitting garment (the original was apparently made of velvet!) that eventually became known by his name, although not until after his death. (Incidentally, Léotard himself referred to the garment as a “maillot,” a term fashion designers still use in reference to a woman’s one-piece swimsuit.) For more on Léotard, see the PBS and Victoria and Albert Museum articles.
commercial technology 687.16
home economics 646.3
home sewing 646.47
The interdisciplinary number for activewear is 796 Athletic and outdoor sports and games—the clothing for an activity going with the activity—where a work like The sports bible: encyclopedia for activewear, outerwear, streetwear & sports fashion is classed. (Notation T1—03 Dictionaries, encyclopedias, concordances is not added, because activewear/clothing does not approximate the whole of 796.) Works on specific aspects of activewear would be classed in the other numbers; for example, Sewing active wear is classed in 646.47 Construction of garments for special purposes, with its including note, “Including activewear (clothing for athletic and outdoor sports, . . .”
And what about the comprehensive biography number for Léotard? The ubiquity of leotards aside, Léotard’s most significant contribution—and the basis of his comprehensive biography number—is his creation of the flying trapeze act. His comprehensive biography number, used for works like La course aux trapèzes volants: l'exploit de Jules Léotard! [The flying trapeze race: the feat of Jules Léotard!] and Pirouettes et collants blancs: mémoires de Jules Léotard, le premier des trapézistes (1860) [Pirouettes and white tights: memoires of Jules Léotard, the first trapeze artist (1860)] is therefore 791.34092 Acrobatics and trapeze work—Biography, built from 791.34 (Circuses) Acrobatics and trapeze work, plus T1—092 Biography. By the way, the number for “The Daring Young Man on The Flying Trapeze,” a song written about Léotard, is 782.42164 Western popular songs, built with 782.42 (Secular) Songs, plus 164 from 781.64 Western popular music, following the instructions at 782.1-782.4 Vocal forms.