"The mechanics of undergarments" is an exhibition at the Arts Decoratifs Museum that sheds light on the evolution of the underwear through the centuries. Have you ever wondered how the crinolines, the paniers, the poufs or the bustles worked? Well this exhibition exposes the tricks of these artifices that were once, part of the everyday outfit. From the well-known corset to the technical crayfish tail, I realised how everything was well thought and had a purpose. In the Middle Age, according to popular belief, babies bodies were soft and without any bearing (quite ironic since swaddling them at birth probably didn't help them carry their head and use their bones and muscles, so basically they were making them soft to make them straight and strong later), which is why they were expected to wear tight structuring clothes. An other popular belief was that straight minds lived in straight bodies, which is why young women were given special attention: to shape their bodies but also protect their virtue. That's for the spiritual part. But there obviously is a sexual aspect in all of the decorum. The undergarments stress parts of the bodies that inevitably carry a sensual dimension (the shoulder or knees were never emphasised like the breasts, the bum or the scrotum... obviously).
The exhibition tells a history of fashion, bodies, and concept of beauty. I would absolutely recommend it. Click here for more information (exhibition runs until the 24th November 2013).
Once last thing: they recreated some of the undergarments so the public could experience the sensations, see the last photo of this post... Yours truly in a corset and crinoline. My new favourite outfit to go get the bread!
Amazing work. Not so practical to pass the doors though.
Presenting a masterwork of rigidity: the vertugadin.
The corsets. Oppressive but miracle workers on a feminine silhouette.
The mechanics of the crinoline.
Yours truly, experimenting the crinoline and corset. Quite heavy, no wonder the women were so elegant: every movement is slowed down by the weight and volume of the attire.