I am quickly learning that going to fashion museums is becoming a bit of a fascination of mine-- a hobby, perhaps! Today I checked out The Museum at FIT and it's most recent exhibit, Exposed: A History of Lingerie.
Unfortunately, the people at FIT do not mess around, so I was unable to get many pictures of the pieces in exhibit. But I can at least tell you a little bit about what I learned and saw!
Now I don't know about you, but when I think about lingerie, I instantly get a vision of a certain little pink striped bag of the largest intimate apparel brands in the U.S. However, Roy Raymond did not create Victoria's Secret until the 1970's....... So the question is: what did women wear before that?
Again, when I think about lingerie, certain adjectives come to mind. Sexy. Intimate. Erotic. You get the idea. Now this museum exhibit displayed lingerie from as far back as the eighteenth century to present day. When walking through and comparing the old to the new, the difference is laughable! Let's compare.
Below are two pictures, A and B. Picture A represents what typical lingerie looked like in the eighteenth century, and Picture B is a photo of one of our lovely Victoria's Secret models sporting a lace bra and matching panties that are typical of lingerie today. Now I don't believe the adjectives associated with the word "lingerie" have changed over centuries, but the meanings and the standards of these words certainly have. Tell me boys, could I turn you on wearing a tan corset over a cotton nightgown that goes all the way down to my ankles?
This is what made the exhibit so interesting! The relationship between dress and the body has been SO redefined over time. During the eighteenth century, decorative corsets and petticoats were worn as an essential part of a woman's dress! Not to mention all of their undergarments were boring neutral colors until people finally discovered some creativity with color in the late 1890's! Nowadays, you can get different styles of lingerie in the brightest of colors-- that is IF you are wearing any lingerie at all. After all, like Betsey Johnson once said, "If girls dressed for boys, they'd just walk around naked at all times."
Anyway, BACK to the exhibit! Even after the introduction of colored intimate apparel, there were pieces in the exhibit that did not even look like lingerie to me! For example, in the 1900's (and even before then too), women wore full on gowns to bed-- gowns that, to me, looked as if they could be worn during the day (at least during that time period). Suddenly I feel a little less classy in my baggy t-shirt and yoga pants.
The museum is located on West 27th Street and 9th Avenue. Admission is free so definitely check it out for yourself! I learned so much about the history of lingerie, and also the construction of it! This specific exhibit will be here until November 15th, so you have plenty of time to see it! Here's there website for more details:
Even though the construction and design of lingerie has changed immensely over the centuries, Vogue DID report something in 1912 that still holds true today:
"No dainty woman wishes to appear untidy or unlovely at any hour of the day."
Until next time,