Nov 18, 2011

What's in a Name, Leotard

In 1859, twenty one year old Jules Leotard, made a public appearance as the world’s first flying trapeze artist. He was first to turn a somersault in mid-air and the first to jump from one trapeze to the next. He died at 28, likely from smallpox, typhoid, or cholera.
He also designed the eponymous piece of apparel for men. He called it a maillot, and the name leotard did not come into being until years after his death. The original leotard design was a skintight, one-piece garment with the lower portion resembling tights. Current designs do not have legs, but may be worn with tights. Unitards cover the torso and legs.

Jules had been practicing since he was a little boy. He would swing from a trapeze hanging over the swimming pool in his father’s gymnasium. The leotard is still worn by acrobats, dancers, skaters, and exercise enthusiasts throughout the world.

In 1867 George Leybourne wrote lyrics to the song "The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze" about Leotard,