Exposed: A History of Lingerie

Walter Van Beirendonck, man’s ensemble, raffia, white organdy, orange cotton, and multicolor embroidery, Summer 2006, Belgium, gift of Walter Van Beirendonck.

Exhibition, The Museum at FIT, New York, USA, until 15 November.
As the final barrier to the nude body, lingerie is simultaneously modest and erotic – and it remains a subject of enduring fascination. The design of lingerie enhances its allure: it strategically reveals, conceals, and highlights the wearer’s form. The exhibition traces developments in intimate apparel from the 18th century to the present. There are two types of lingerie, hard and soft. Hard lingerie includes corsets, bustles, and structured bras, while soft lingerie consists of unstructured garments, such as slips, nightgowns, and panties. As the relationship between dress and the body has been redefined over time, so too have the function and appearance of lingerie.