The Victoria & Albert museum will explore underwear’s relation to sex and gender in a series of late-night activities next week.
In celebration of the current exhibition, Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear, Friday Late: Brief Encounters will play host to an intimate fashion show, knicker-making workshops, an exotic garden party and a number of stimulating debates on the role of underwear through the ages.
Samantha Roddick, artist, activist and founder of luxury lingerie emporium Coco de Mer, will appear as a guest speaker in the National Art Library, discussing how underwear shapes our sexuality and perceptions of gender.
The Lecture Theatre will host a panel discussion on Men’s Unmentionables, with fashion historian Shaun Cole and representatives from key contemporary brand Sunspel talking about designing for men, and the often less-debated ideals of male beauty offered in the underwear market.
Meanwhile, the marble staircase in the V&A’s grand entrance will provide the setting for Grand Soir de Babyloo: an intimate fashion show styled with the latest lingerie from Parisian designer Fifi Chachnil.
In the Dorothy and Michael Hintze Galleries, models from feminist lingerie brand Neon Moon will pose alongside classical sculptures as muses for an alternative life drawing workshop encouraging body positivity.
Throughout Friday Late, visitors will be able to drop in and join a ‘Knit–a–tit’ workshop led by Knitted Knockers, a unique charitable initiative to create and donate handmade breast prosthesis for women who have undergone mastectomies. At the end of the night, participants can choose to keep or donate their ‘knitted tit’ to a good cause.
Elsewhere, visitors will be able to try their hand at designing their own pair of original pants in workshops led by designer Cicely Travers of lingerie brand Isosceles.
Cicely will demonstrate how techno fabrics offer an alternative way of constructing figure-flattering lingerie shapes.
In addition, Kunza Corsetiere, who formerly trained at Vivienne Westwood and whose designs have been featured in The Duchess and Downton Abbey, will be introducing the art and influence of bespoke corsetry, whilst leather designer Melissa Tofton will talk about the concept and craft behind her unique fetish bodywear and accessories.
David TG, co-founder, director and resident DJ of the world’s largest fetish and body art club, Torture Garden, will bring a flavour of the notorious establishment to the V&A’s John Madejski Garden for the night, spinning an eclectic set ranging from atmospheric exotica, burlesque and swing to mash-up electro.
Meanwhile, in the Grand Entrance, pop artist and musician Wild Cat Will (William Blanchard) will be playing psychedelic and rock’n’roll records that reference the Parisian cabaret culture of the Folies Bergère, a music-hall well known for its sensual allures. This will be followed by a battle between DJs of the club concept Yes/No Disco to play the best underwear themed tunes.
Friday Late: Brief Encounters will take place on June 24 from 18:30 to 22:00. Adminission is free, but some events may be ticketed.