Revealed: Creating undergarments for a Gucci dress

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Peek-a-Boo evening dress, so called because of its revealing cut out feature and provocatively low neckline, was designed by Tom Ford for Gucci’s Autumn/Winter 2004/5 collection, Ford’s last collection for Gucci. The dress is made of white silk jersey and gathers the plunging neckline with the help of a round ornament with two dragon’s heads. The presentation of this piece on its mannequin might appear effortlessness, however, making it look the way it does was hard work.

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The mannequin had to be altered to fit by Proportion London, the mannequin makers, as the bust is high and too large to support the low cut neckline of the Gucci outfit. The arms of the mannequin also had to be slimmed down to fit the tight silk jersey.

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Fitting the dress on the mannequin after alterations have been made. The skin-coloured cover protects the dress from the mannequin.

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Creating the under garments and barrier layer between the Gucci dress and the mannequin.

Cotton jersey is used to stretch over the whole mannequin. The dress is then fitted on the mannequin and an outline of the dress is stitched into the jersey. The dress is then removed and the jersey is stitched and cut into shape to mirror the dress.

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Here you can see the cotton tape which is used to prevent the jersey from rolling up when it is cut to size.

The Gucci dress required the creation of one of the exhibition most complicated undergarments due to the dress’s revealing cut. The undergarment we created prevents the dress from actually touching the mannequin at any point, which also helped to protect the dress from the paint used on the mannequin. You can see how dress making skills are often required in a textile conservator’s job!

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Net skirts are made to support the skirts of the dress. These are then covered in silk to prevent abrasions on the object when it is dressed on the mannequin.

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The dress completed and mounted on the mannequin, and in its proper place by the side of a Tom Ford for Gucci men’s evening ensemble in the current exhibition ‘The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945 – 2014’.

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