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Opening next week, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London will be showcasing the foundation to every winning outfit: underwear. From corsets and crinolines to Y-fronts and designer boxers, underwear is as diverse as it is essential. Influencing not only what we wear underneath, but also the clothes on top — the clothes we sleep in, exercise in, and party in have their design roots in underwear.
From its humble beginnings as practical coverings to elaborate and delicate pieces designed to only be worn for a few minutes, Undressed: a brief history of underwear covers the history of lingerie in 200 objects. Exploring the evolution of beauty ideals and body shapes, as well as the garments themselves, the exhibition shows how the body is sculpted and moulded to fit the standards of the time.
Controversial subjects such as health, hygiene and body image are debated as shifting attitudes to both beauty ideals and modesty influence trends in underwear style, while conventions are challenged by designers. Innovations in production and design technology have also shaped how these very personal garments have developed over the years.
For anyone that loves history and especially the history of fashion, 2016 has a great collection of iconic styles and trends that have shaped the fashion industry today. As we’ve seen in a previous post, no matter what you think about fashion including the people that ‘don’t do fashion’ or ‘don’t follow fashion’, everyone is influenced by it. The heritage and history of iconic looks is a part of modern fashion design including your bargain high street finds.
If you’re visiting the capital, be sure to go take a look.
Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear will be at the V&A museum in London from 16 April 2016 to 12 March 2017.
Words by: Siân Hunter