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I have just come back from two very exciting weeks up in London on a design placement with the wonderful Zandra Rhodes. As part of the placement we got to go to the Fashion and Textile Museum which is in the same building as the studio. Their current exhibition Undercover – the evolution of underwear was very glamorous, typified by this retro dressing table which I am inspired to recreate for when I find a new pad down in Brighton:

fabulous dressing table

 My faviourite piece was this wedding (!) dress designed from black lacy knickers and bras. Titled ‘I AM wearing underwear “it is a honeymoon ball gown constructed from 200 embroidered lace knickers and 85 bras.” Designed by Vin and Omi, the brief was to “use only underwear; no other fabric. A second multicoloured gown was also made for the bride to change into mid-honeymoon”.

underwear dress

I also feel in love with these reform corsets with all their button detailing and pin tucking:

reform corset

This deconstruction of a bra also demonstrated the amount of work in making underwear, and the number of pattern pieces involved:

deconstructed bra

There was also a display of designer lingerie and corsets imaginatively suspended from the ceiling.


For those who want to know more, here is the description from the museum website:

The FTM’s exciting new exhibition Undercover traces the evolution of underwear from health garment, shape definer to fashion ‘must have’. It explores a number of themes such as boudoir to everyday glamour – ‘Stars and their bras’ looking at celebrity branding; research and innovation’s impact on the types of underwear we wear; and how the changing face of underwear advertising and marketing meshes with social and cultural changes.

The exhibition presents a visual demonstration of how female underwear has evolved as women’s role in society changed. It encompasses the changing trends from the ‘flatten it’ to the ‘push it up’ to the ‘let it all hang out’! Undercover contains some exquisite pieces from a wide range of private and public collections that  read like the Who’s Who of underwear; M&S, Triumph, La Perla, Christian Dior, Elle Macpherson, Myla and Wonderbra – to name just a few.

From the risqué to the radical, pieces include an original Merry Widow corset inspired by Lana Turner in the film of the same name; renowned burlesque artiste Immodesty Blaize’s corset; a spectacular gown made from bras and briefs by designers Vin & Omi and a La Perla bra encrusted with Swarovski crystals.