Victoria & Albert Museum's upcoming exhibit will leave you hot and bothered

Pretty little things

Victoria & Albert Museum's upcoming exhibit will leave you hot and bothered
'Undressed: 350 Years of Underwear in Fashion', charts underwear as fashion's foundation from its early days in the 18th century to now. Here are five things to look forward to

1.     Corsets, both good and bad

We've all seen period pieces (here's looking at you, Keira Knightley) and how damaging a corset can be to the woman's form. In fact, there's always that one scene where a maid inflicts pain onto a privileged, pretty little thing who's wishing she's out in the "real world" instead. But did you know that there were corsets that improved medical conditions and posture? And that there once existed a corset made entirely from paper during World War One? You'll see these and more, alongside X-rays and illustrations of the garment's effects on the body.

Silk satin, lace and whalebone corset, 1890s

2.     The development of the bra

From its early days as a solution to enable support amid movement and mobility, the bra has evolved from its humble beginnings to a weapon of seduction — think Agent Provocateur and La Perla. Also noteworthy is the showcase on the arrival of the push-up in the '90s.

‘Tamila’ lingerie set from the Agent Provocateur Soirée collection, 2015

3.     Lovers of loungewear

From a silk evening dress by Paul Poiret in 1911 to a Juicy Couture tracksuit in 2004 — that, ladies and gentlemen, is how we've evolved. The changing idea of comfort at home is illustrated through chemise dresses, dressing gowns, kaftans and pyjamas that are etched in past and present collections.

Y-front pants, 1950s

4.     Manscaping

The men aren't totally ignored. When it comes to what lies beneath, they've seen their fair share of action in the bedroom — from aussieBum's briefs that enhance genitals and Brynje of Norway's red string briefs to the David Beckham-endorsed pair from H&M, the exhibition charts men's needs as well.

Brixton Boyz, 2001

5.     Who's who in undies

Do you really need to see the long cotton drawers worn by Queen Victoria's mother? Yes — to understand how British royals have always been setting trends, way before Prince George's reign. You'll also be looking back at the sheer dress by Liza Bruce famously worn by Kate Moss, as well as other style notes that illustrate designers' ideas about what's private and public — think: Antonio Beradi's dress from 2009 worn by Gwyneth Paltrow with a trompe l'oeil corset revealing what's beneath.

© Sipa Press/ REX Shutterstock

'Undressed: 350 Years of Underwear in Fashion' will be shown at the V&A Fashion Gallery from 16 April 2016 to 12 March 2017. For more details, click here.

Text: Adibah Isa

  • Image:
    Victoria and Albert Museum,
    London; cheekfrills
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