Undressed: a brief history of underwear is an exhibition in V&A museum from 16 April 2016 until Sunday 12 March 2017, so you have plenty of time to check it out! The exhibition is positioned over two floors at Fashion Temporary Exhibition Space. The exhibition is sponsored by Agent Provocateur and Revlon and is only free for members.
Over 200 pieces of both men and women underwear starting from 18th century until present day. Underwear represents cleanness, comfort and modesty, closest thing to our body. It is personal and therefore erotic.
Through exhibition you can see how purpose and outlook of the underwear transformed over time. Long time ago the underwear was used purely to keep the body clean and over 200 years it became an erotic part of the outfit and an element of sexual play.
Women underwear is designed to highlight and exaggerate parts of the body. Corsets are designed to make the waist slimmer and bras are made for support.
On the X-ray you can see how rib cage is tighten to fit in the corset. Nowadays corsets are not the part of everyday wear and considered to be an erotic thing rather than part of the outfit. However in 1890s it was a regular underwear and the average waists were under 48 centimetres (comparing to 71 cm in 21st century).
Bust supporter – the very first model of bra – was patented in 1863. Bras shaped women’s bodies according to fashion of the time. There were periods when breasts were suppressed – in relation to the image of aristocracy, other times bigger breasts were more preferable so push up was integrated in bras. There is always the connection between underwear and fashion, underwear shapes women silhouette.
What’s the purpose of garter? Apart from throwing it on your wedding day.. In the 19th century garters were used to support stockings. Nowadays stockings have a silicon band and stick to the body and garters are no longer needed. So they stay in the culture purely as tradition and decoration.
Lingerie is a definition of who we are, our character. Model, fabrics, colour all have different moods and perceptions. Cotton is comfortable, silk is sexy, lace is erotic. Female readers will know – when you put on beautiful lingerie even if no one sees it, you feel more confident.
Exhibition consists mostly from mannequins with different types of underwear, however, there is also a video interview with key designers of lingerie brands such as FiFi, La Perla and Agent Provocateur.