The Museum at FIT, New York are currently hosting an exhibition that chronicles the history of lingerie through more than seventy pieces from their archive, many of them having not been on display before.
Lingerie is functional, beautiful and alluring and the Exposed exhibition presents a selection of pieces that display a motive of purpose or pleasure, highlighting the modest and hygienic necessitation of lingerie as well as addressing the desire for its erotic allure.
The exhibition is curated chronologically and narrates history’s changes in fashionable silhouettes, notions of propriety and technological advancements through the dishabille. It’s earliest piece on display is a pair of 1770 stays and the exhibition closes with pieces from contemporary lingerie brands such as Wonderbra and Agent Provocateur.
Exposed also has a concentrated focus on the trend for underwear as outerwear and pairs several items of lingerie alongside a piece of everyday clothing with relation in design. Though the underwear as outerwear trend is closely associated with the 80s, the exhibition uses pieces and pairings from a variety of past decades to highlight lingerie’s role in influencing fashion; a Peter Soronen corsetted bodice evening dress from 2007 is placed beside a pair of 19th Century coloured corsets and a 50s Iris night gown is beside a Claire McCardell evening dress, also from the 50s.
The exhibition is a wonderful display of the female body and the changing attitudes towards its desirable silhouette. The exhibit exposes more than the pieces themselves, through the craftmanship and advancing technological changes evident in the pieces, one can trace a history of a particular time’s desirable silhouette for the body, thus exposing history.
The exhibition runs until November 15th at the Fashion and Textile History Gallery at The Museum at FIT. More information can be found here.