A brief history

“Undressed”: Museum exhibit puts spotlight on undergarments

A bra, corset, stockings and thong by Robin Archer for House of Harlot at "Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear". (LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)

Call it the great underwear comeback of 2016. As top designers, stores, and even art museums take an interest in women’s lingerie, those clothing items relegated to “undergarments” are now out in the open. London’s Victoria and Albert Museum unveiled its “Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear” exhibit on Saturday, showcasing 250 objects including corsets, bras, briefs, and boxer shorts along with film clips, packaging, and old advertisements tracing underwear from the mid-1900s to now.

“It is serendipitous that we are opening right at a moment where underwear, and its ongoing transition from a deeply private to provocatively public garment, continues to be a major creative and commercial trend,” Edwina Ehrman, curator of the exhibit told The New York Times.

The resurging interest in underwear has come on the heels of the athleisure craze that has seen loungewear and pajamas come out from the home and into women’s everyday wardrobes, Ehreman noted. The exhibit coincides with the unveiling of a new 37,000-square-foot space devoted to everyday wear including leisure and lounge at Selfridge’s, and lingerie displays by such high-end retailers as Givenchy and Balenciaga, according to the Times.

But there is at least some historical precedent for underwear-as-outerwear. The exhibit shows off a 1920s pajama playsuit worn for cocktails and an evening slip from 1911, and explores how form and function have shaped underwear and outerwear for more than a century.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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