Underwear is fashion's foundation. The majestic shapes of 18th century court dress, the distorted hourglass shapes of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, and Dior's cinched 'New Look' were all dependent upon elaborate corsetry, technologically complex petticoats, hoops, and padded underpinnings. This exhibition will look at the history of private and intimate clothing - from corsets to court mantuas and boudoir wear to bustles - exploring underwear's function in decorating and manipulating the body. Featuring highlights from the V&A's extensive collection of underwear, the objects will be displayed thematically, and shown alongside contextual images from the V&A's archives.
‘Colette’ corset, Christian Dior, 1950s. Museum no. T.140-2000
Corselette, Satin, coutil, boning and elastic, Portsmouth England, 1940’s, T.175-1998, © V&A Images/ Victoria and Albert Museum.
Slip petticoat, designer unknown, 1955-1964. Museum no. T.153-1998
Corset, designer unknown, early 1890s. Museum no. T.738-1974
Ensemble, Dolce and Gabbana, 2004. Museum no. T.2-2005
‘Thomson’s Empress A’ Cage Crinoline, W.S. & E.H. Thomson, 1865-1868. Museum no. T.51-1980
Negligée, designer unknown, 1930s. Museum no. T.308-1984
Short evening dress (robe du soir courte), Cristobal Balenciaga, 1958. Museum no. T.334-1997