Exhibition view, Corset, 1890-1895
© Victoria & Albert Museum, London
In 200 articles, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London resumes three centuries of underwear: from the corsets and crinolines of the 18th century to the titillating lingerie sold at Agent Provocateur, from the under garments of the 19th century to exceptional pieces by Jean Paul Gaultier and men's underpants designed by Paul Smith.
“Fashion and underwear are intrinsically linked, a bit like the chicken and the egg (…) and we wanted to explore just that” explains Susanna Cordner, one of the curators of the exhibition. The event pedagogically retraces our evolving relationship with our bodies and the history of the standards that have shaped it.
And so we learn that the jock strap, men's pants that expose the buttocks completely and are particularly popular in gay pornography, was invented in 1887 in the USA for cyclists. And that 18th century women didn't even wear knickers or boxers, but diaphanous shirts against their bare skin.
A host of photos, publicity campaigns and fashion archives complete the exhibition.
Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear
Victoria & Albert Museum
Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL
Until March 12th 2017