The V&A’s Underwear Exhibition Explores The Changing Attitudes Towards Fashion

Fashion can provide us with an amazing insight into our culture, politics and gender. The way we dress has the ability to send a powerful message about who we are and the world we are living in. In reflecting on the ways that fashion has evolved over the course of time, we are also forced to respond to the way that society itself has changed. It is something that constantly informs our own designs at Charlotte Zimbehl as we aim to reflect the aspirations of modern women.

This particular theme is something that is currently being explored in an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. However, while our designs are focussed on outwear, their brand new exhibition will focus on somewhat the opposite: underwear. Inside The Undressed: A Brief History Of Underwear features over 200 different garments ranging from 18th century corsets to contemporary underwear like those made for Agent Provocateur’s Soiree collection. It aims to show the progression of this one particular kind of clothing as both society and our attitudes to fashion have transformed.

Underwear was originally designed for purely function purposes. 18th century lingerie, for instance, was commonly used to contort a woman’s shape via painful and crushing corsets. However, particularly in the 1960s with the youth and sexual revolutions, it evolved into a fashion statement and became an appropriate metaphor for female empowerment. The designs became stylish, bold and sometimes controversial. It was, of course, used as a political prop during the Miss America protests when feminist activists burned their bras.

Today, underwear, similar in a sense to outerwear, is not specifically focussed on comfort, practicality and hygiene – although these are still things taken into serious consideration. Contemporary underwear can now represent our modern attitudes towards femininity, sexuality and the relationships we have with our bodies. The V&A’s Inside The Undressed: A Brief History Of Underwear exhibition is sure to challenge us to think about these concepts, as well as the way we perceive fashion as a whole.

The exhibition will run from now until March 12th 2017. It is located in Room 40 of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Tickets cost £12.


Photo credits:

Title: Installation view of Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear – courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Title: Advertising poster designed by Hans Schleger for the Charnaux Patent Corset Co. Ltd – courtesy of the Hans Schleger Estate

Title: Cage crinoline, the ‘Princess Louise Jupon Patent’ – courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London

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