19 July – 26 October 2014
Undressed: 350 years of Underwear in Fashion, presents highlights from the Victoria and Albert Museum’s extensive collection of underwear. This exhibition will examine at the history of private and intimate clothing - from corsets to court mantuas and boudoir wear to bustles. It explores the manipulation of the body and the importance of foundation garments to the fashionable silhouette.
The role of underwear in fashion is pivotal. The majestic shapes of 18th century court dress, the distorted hourglass shapes of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, and Dior’s cinched ‘New Look’ were all dependent upon elaborate corsetry, technologically complex petticoats, hoops, and padded underpinnings. It is only since the 1960s that women have been expected to embody the fashionable ideal by way of diet and exercise and without the aid of foundation garments, so understanding underwear is fundamental to our appreciation of fashion history. It is also important for cultural and social historians, to whom it provides a symbol of changing social mores and attitudes to morality, sex, beauty and gender.
Undressed: 350 years of Underwear in Fashion contains more than 100 objects shown alongside contextual images from the V&A’s archives. The V&A’s collection of underwear dates from 1750 to the present day and includes many rare and never before displayed objects.
This exhibition is organised by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London