Sunday, July 13, 2014

A History of Lingerie Exhibit at the Museum atFIT




I my be wrong on this, but...

Kinda weird for me to apologize in the intro, isn't it?  

I may have missed the point of this exhibit, or maybe I just think differently when it comes to the subject of lingerie.  While I find it hard to articulate my feelings about this event, as always at FIT, it is still absolutely a worthwhile visit.  Exploring the developments in intimate apparel from the 1800's until the present day, this display of items is an interesting assemblage of pieces, with a solid range of "flavors".   What I feel this exhibit of unmentionables leaves unmentioned, is that so much of lingerie is structural, technical, about supporting the self esteem of the wearer, and/or reshaping/re-sculpting parts of the body, and, while beautiful, is often specifically not fashion oriented.

I recognize that there have been trends in lingerie ("Wonderbra", anyone?), of course, but from this exhibit, the major unifying theme I saw, was that they were all represented as pieces specifically meant to be worn on bare flesh. Is lingerie really defined by ease of "access" to what it adorns?

Maybe we each have our own definition of lingerie?

Whenever I visit an exhibit at the Museum at FIT, I discover a very specific reason for my specific experience there.  Something always jumps out at me, grabs my heart, inspires me, and holds me transfixed by its artistry, wrapping me up in its magic.  This time, it was a beautiful Fortuny pleated cascade of a slip dress that was absolutely magical.  If I were to translate this dress into an experience, the scene would be a figure in silhouette, pouring a glass of burgundy around midnight, poised on a a chaise lounge, poolside, beneath a candle-lit chandelier adorned with tiny grey Tahitian pearls and onyx. 

I would say this exhibit had a more commercial feel than most, as if it had been done with the goal of attracting a particular type of audience. I can certainly appreciate that I am not the target market for every show, and that I may be missing the goal here, but having worked in this industry specifically, I think this particular topic merits a significantly larger and deeper exploration. You may find more information on this particular exhibit here.


2 comments:

Texas Urban said...

In fact, your take is correct, per Dictionay.com
lin·ge·rie [lahn-zhuh-rey, lan-zhuh-ree, -juh-; French lanzhuh-ree]
noun: 1.underwear, sleepwear, and other items of intimate apparel worn by women. 2.Archaic. linen goods in general.
adjective: 3.having the qualities of lingerie; lacy or frilly.
Origin: 1825–35; < French, equivalent to Middle French linge linen (< Latin l─źneus of flax; see line1 ) + -erie -ery

As defined, lingerie includes sleepwear as well as undies.
The negligees worn in movies up through the 1970's are examples of what I think about when "lingerie" in mentioned, as well as matching sets of slips, bras, panties etc. But not too many of those ladies "sweated" (on purpose at least) and it is tough to see sports bras and performance undies in general in the same catergory. Sleepwear to most today is an ensemble of tee shirts and lounge pants-- it is not surprising that the items exhibited as current era lingerie would be edgy and provocative.

Mimi Jackson said...

Thank you so much for that comment! I feel so much better knowing I'm not overthinking it!