The Victoria & Albert Museum has announced the full details of its forthcoming exhibition that will explore the history of underwear.
Lingerie Insight reported in September that the V&A will host Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear from April 2016 to February 2017.
Since then, organisers have remained tight lipped over the themes of the exhibition and the pieces that will go on display, until today.
The V&A will tell the story of underwear design from the 18th century to the present day, considering the practical and personal, sensory and fashionable and exploring underwear’s roles of protecting and enhancing the body.
Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear will display more than 200 examples of underwear for men and women, highlighting the enduring themes of innovation and luxury, from the custom-made, such as a rare example of home-made ‘stays’ worn by a working woman in England in the 18th century, to pieces by designers including Stella McCartney, La Perla, Rigby & Peller and Paul Smith.
The exhibition will explore the relationship between underwear and fashion, notions of the ideal body, and the ways that cut, fit, fabric and decoration can reveal issues of gender, sex and morality.
It will consider health and hygiene and address the design and technological advances central to the development of underwear.
On display will be corsets, crinolines, boxer shorts, bras, hosiery, lingerie and loungewear alongside contextual fashion plates, photographs, advertisements, display figures and packaging.
Highlights will include long cotton drawers worn by Queen Victoria’s mother; an 1842 man’s waist belt used on the wearer’s wedding day; a 1960s Mary Quant body stocking; a pair of gender neutral briefs by Acne; a sheer dress by Liza Bruce famously worn by Kate Moss; and flesh-coloured leggings decorated with a mirrored glass fig leaf by Vivienne Westwood.
Undressed will also explore the vigorous debate about the practicality of corsets. A restrictive 1890s whalebone and cotton corset with a waist under 19 inches in circumference will be displayed alongside x-rays and illustrations revealing the dramatic impact on the body of wearing such a garment.
An austerity corset made from paper during World War One and a waist-training corset – a slimming tool endorsed by celebrity figures such as Kim Kardashian – will also be on display.