Undressed

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.

Curating an exhibition is a process built on collaboration, between conservators, researchers, designers and other specialists. Our blog will allow you to experience some of their work through their own words. Our posts will also give us the chance to delve a little deeper into some of the themes, objects and personalities of Undressed.
We hope that you’ll enjoy it. Please check back for new content on Fridays.

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

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Riveting Rivets

Left to right: rivet, rivet plate, riveter

A good blog should be a riveting read, but this is a blog about riveting… Over the last week this fanciful tool has become a trusted friend as I face the challenge of ensuring our mannequins are going to keep their bits together for the Undressed exhibition and subsequent tour. Forget the saucy underwear – this is what gets me […]

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A Chemise for Clean Comfort

T.148-1961

Chemise

Unknown
possibly Great Britain
1851
Linen, trimmed at the neck with muslin frill

In a meeting late last week, a colleague was talking about the importance of caring for your clothes, and loving and enjoying a garment for something other than its newness. In Japan, certain traditions fold around their cultural idea that material (and so, by association, clothing) grows more beautiful with age and wear. There is […]

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Filming Fifi

Fifi Chachnil holds up a pair of her classic bloomers during filming © Bridget Veal

AV (= Audio Visual – so, this tends to mean film) material has become an expected feature in exhibition design. While we don’t want this material to distract from the objects themselves, film and sound can be a great way to further engage with visitors and add to the exhibition’s mood and atmosphere. With the […]

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When there’s too much to say…

T.114-1939 Riding Corset

As the Curator of Undressed I have spent much of the past month writing the exhibition text. There are 160 object labels, and ten 150 word pieces for the panels which introduce the exhibition and each of its nine sections. Every object in the exhibition has to work hard to justify its presence: it needs […]

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Trying Out Tights

Textiles & Fashion storage at the Clothworkers' Centre, Blythe House  © V&A Collection

It’s been a very busy week full of developments in the design and text for the exhibition. Some of the team spent Thursday morning at the Clothworkers’ Centre at Blythe House. This is where we store our Textiles and Fashion collection, which holds over 104,000 objects. It’s also a brilliant study space in which you […]

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Too Petite for Petite: Mounting a 19th Century Corset for Undressed

Marking out the position of the breasts using coloured pins

Costume mounting is the topsy-turvy task of making a mannequin fit a particular object, a job that can often make you feel more like plastic surgeon than a museum employee, as the following post explains… First up on the Undressed costume mounting schedule is this charming cotton corset dating from 1825-35. Don’t be deceived by its […]

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Introducing the Textile Conservation and Mounting team

A silk dressing gown from 1875 (T.193-1984) being assessed © V&A Collection

Hello from the Textile Conservation and Mounting team. If you followed the “Wedding Dress” and “Fabric of India” blogs then you will have met some of us before and you will know all about the Textile Conservation Section here at the V&A. For The “Undressed” Exhibition we have one Textile Conservator, Albertina Cogram, who is […]

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Welcome to the Undressed blog

T.18-1958 Underbust Satin Ribbon Corset, c.1895 © V&A Collection

Welcome to our blog for the V&A’s forthcoming exhibition Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear. As we reach the six month mark in the run up to the exhibition’s opening in April 2016, our team’s preparations are already in full swing. A chance to show some treasures, over 200 objects will be going on display. […]

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