Victoria & Albert Museum is set to host an exhibition titled Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear, which addresses the practicalities of underwear and its role in the fashionable wardrobe whilst highlighting its sensual, sexual appeal.

This exhibition will address the practicalities of underwear and its role in the fashionable wardrobe whilst highlighting its sensual, sexual appeal. One of underwear’s primary roles is to support, firm and shape the body to create the ideal body shape and substructure for the latest fashions. The exhibition will explore dress reformers and designers such as Paul Poiret, who argued for the beauty of the natural body, as well as entrepreneurs, inventors and innovators who have played a critical role in the development of increasingly more effective and comfortable underwear. On display will be over 200 objects for men and women together with fashion plates, photographs and film, advertisements and packaging to introduce changing concepts of the ideal body.

Both culturally emblematic and the most everyday of objects, underwear attracts interest, debate, and sometimes controversy. Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear will display more than 200 examples of men’s and women’s underwear from about 1750 to the present day. In particular, it will investigate how underwear design combines the practical and personal with the sensory and fashionable, in the process both protecting and enhancing the body. The exhibition will map developments in underwear design and explore the ways in which fashion designers have transformed underwear into outerwear.

Highlights include an 1890s 19-inch-waist whalebone corset, cotton drawers worn by Queen Victoria’s mother and an 1842 man’s wedding waist belt, shown alongside more modern items such as Liza Bruce’s sheer dress worn by Kate Moss, skin-coloured leggings by Vivienne Westwood, plus designer pieces by Stella McCartney, La Perla and Paul Smith.

The exhibition also examines the works of major players and influencers in the world of underwear, such as Paul Poiret and his uncorseted dress designs, and inventors who worked towards making underwear more practical.

 

The exhibition, Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear, will be on display at the V&A from 16th April 2016 to 12th March 2017.