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   (2012-05-14 00:00:00)

London, May 14: Earlier, achieving the perfect wasp waist required a painful corset or an equally painful exercise regime, but now Marks and Spencer has come up with a rather more comfortable alternative in the shape of lightweight corset-style lingerie that doesn't force the wearer to hold her breath.

Women are desperate to copy the hourglass figures of stars such as ' Mad Men' actress Christina Hendricks that one of the items is sold every three minutes.

The soaring demand for waist-sculpting underwear comes as hectic lifestyles leave women struggling to find time to stay in shape.

Designers at M and S have combined vintage techniques such as panelling and boning with new fabric bonding technology to create their Waist Sculpt range.

The garments replicate the effects of a traditional corset but are light enough to move with the wearer, allowing women to sit down or bend without having to hold their breath.

"We all have waist envy," the Daily Mail quoted Soozie Jenkinson, head of lingerie design at M and S as saying.Red carpet celebs have championed the return to the curvaceous, wasp waistline.

"But few of us have the time to put in extra hours in the gym, so to achieve those killer curves, we created Waist Sculpt.

"It is corsetry for the 21st century. Gone are the days of uncomfortable boning and heavy fabrics," Jenkinson said.

The range, launched four weeks ago, includes waist-cinching knickers for 19 pounds and a body-sculpting slip for 29.50 pounds.