i remember seeing something like one of these at a flea market when i was really young, maybe 11 or so and i really didn't know what it was for. the one i had seen was made of metal strips and was semi-adjustable. it seemed like the remains of some fancy ladies dress from hundreds of years ago as if all the fabric had slowly decayed off of it and all that as the cage that supported the structure.
looking around at the time i realised women don't look too much like this in shape and idea came to me that a woman needs to start to wear it a a very young age to shape her so.
i went back and never saw it again and its haunted me for several years afterwords. wondering about being put into one and having it force me to grow into a doll-esque shape.
i really hadn't thought about it all these years untill i found one when looking for mannequins on ebay. so maybe thats where all of this comes from? or part of it anyway.
another thing thats sort of similiar and was about the same time was seeing and old horror film (hammer maybe?) where a woman is put into an iron madien. again a finely dressed woman of extreme shape being put into a cast iron container which had considerable detailing and beautiful in its own way. something like a food mold. how would she come out? re-shaped and remade?