Undressed

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.

IMG_1613

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.

Botticelli Reimagined

There is another great exhibition in Victoria and Albert museum: Botticelli Reimagined and this exhibition is on until 3rd of July 2016. Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510) is an important figure in Early Renaissance Art and inspired many artist throughout the history. The concept of the exhibition is to show artworks that were influenced by Botticelli’s works. There are different types of artworks: video arts, sculptures, paintings, photographs, fashion costumes as well as movie episodes. In some pieces the reference and inspiration were more obvious than in others. Inspiration and reference mostly cam from Botticelli’s most famous paintings: The Birth of Venus and Primavera. However these two painting can never leave Florence there are more than 50 original works as well as works by Botticelli’s workshop and immediate followers.

There are three sections of the exhibitions and the artworks were organised historically backwards. First section is dark, with contemporary works, the second section with older works in a beige tones and fully lit. Final section was completely white showcasing Botticelli and his workshop. White space is an unusual choice for old masters but it looks great!

The Fabric of India

V&A India Festival, which is now coming to an end, presented many exhibitions, displays, and events to explore culture of South Asia. Victoria and Albert museum showcased exhibition “The Fabric of India” as a highlight of V&A India Festival. The exhibition was on display from 3rd of October until 10th of January.

Exhibition hall had dimmed lights which helped visitors to concentrate on the objects, the sound effect also helped to relax and fully explore the world of textiles. When you enter the exhibition you can see large floor spread. It was used in a Mughal palace in summer time to cover the sitting area inside the palace. Flower pattern created indoor garden for people who were sitting inside. This is a great piece to open the exhibition as it grabs attention with its size and pattern. Each letter of the title of the show “The Fabrics of India” connects to the opposite wall by red threads.  It created depth and perspective and goes well with the concept of exhibition.

IMG_1545The exhibition covers not only India but South Asian region. This region included Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. It was well-explained how different climate zones and geographical regions enable masters to access different variety of plant fibre. Some regions are famous in particular type of textile: Assam – golden silk, Bengal – fine cottons, the red dyes of south-east India. It is very helpful that each object has a dot on the map where it was created; it provides a better understanding of the subject.

The textiles were explained from different perspectives: technical side, how it is all manufactures, and cultural side, how the textiles were applied. There was a display with different dyes and explanation of how the colour was reached. For example, if indigo plant was left at the sun longer the plant gives paler blue colour than the one that flown on the shadow.

IMG_1543Overall it is very informative exhibition, describing the history of textiles, how the trade began between India and European countries, how machine mass production of textiles and tariffs affected the industry. From the curatorial point of view, the exhibition was very well put together and was very engaging. Information was delivered through short video clips, as well as description of each subject. There were also some samples of silk, cotton and other textiles, which were accessible to public.