The choice of which underwear to put on in the morning is one of the most intimate decisions a woman makes on a daily basis. It’s the first thing she puts on before selecting her outfit and facing the world. Underwear has the power to make a woman feel uplifted and sexy without giving too much away. It’s used as a tool in the temptations of lust and in the late 60’s it was thrown away or burnt as a symbol protest by feminists.

Yes, underwear is a lot more than just a pretty lace necessity and the new exhibition at the V&A titled Undressed: A brief history of underwear is set to show you why. The exhibition is curated by Edwina Ehrman, curator of Textiles and Fashion at the V&A, with sponsorship coming from cosmetic company Revlon and lingerie heavyweights Agent Provocateur.

Undressed charts the history of underwear from the 18th century to today through corsets, crinolines, boxers and bras to pyjamas and underwear revealing fashion (there are also displays of men’s underwear). It is set to be the largest exhibition of underwear to ever go on display, with the V&A acquiring more than 60 individual pieces for their permanent collection. Many fashion designers are fascinated with the relationship of underwear and outerwear and it continues to be a trend that crops up every few seasons, they are constantly challenging the conventional ideas about private and public, gender, sex and nudity. You can expect to see stunning pieces from the likes of Vivienne Westwood, John Galliano, Dolce and Gabbana, Calvin Klein, Jean Paul Gaultier, Antonio Beradi, Ellie Saab and Alexander McQueen.

Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear is open until March 12th 2017 tickets are £12 (concessions are available) V&A members go free.

Written by and images © Michaela Hoyte.

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