The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences Presents Fashion's secret History with a New Exhibition, Undressed: 350 Years of Underwear in Fashion

The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences is revealing fashion's secret history with a new exhibition, Undressed: 350 years of underwear in fashion, opening on Saturday 28 March.

Organised by the world's leading museum of art and design, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, the exhibition features more than 80 garments from the V&A's extensive collection of underwear, many which have never before been on public display.

"The V&A holds one of the most important and extensive collections of fashionable dress in the world, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase these examples of significant, rare and beautiful historical underwear," says Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences' Senior Curator Roger Leong.

The entire exhibition explores underwear's function in decorating and manipulating the body. From corsets and petticoats, brassieres and boudoir wear to bustles, the exhibition spans 350 years of fashion history, bringing together the garments that secretly and privately reduced, lifted, padded, adorned, revealed and concealed the body.

Highlights include Queen Victoria's undergarments, one of the earliest known bras, and many rare, delicate and beautifully detailed items worn by some of the world's most glamorous women. Men's underclothes will also be shown, as will everyday essentials by major retailers such as Marks & Spencer. From the dramatic engineering of a 17th century iron corset through to the satin revolution of the Wonderbra, see striking pieces by world famous fashion designers, Calvin Klein, Christian Dior, to the avant-garde freedom of Gianni Versace, Jean Paul Gaultier and Vivienne Westwood.

Undressed's core themes include modesty and practicality; decoration and seduction; control and corsetry; volume, curves, bustles and petticoats; support, uplift and the bra; high fashion and underwear as outerwear; and body image.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated V&A publication, Underwear: Fashion in Detail, by the exhibition curator Eleri Lynn, containing extraordinarily detailed illustrations of the objects in the show.

Complementing the Victoria and Albert Museum's travelling exhibition will be RECOLLECT - a project that ensures greater public access to the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences' own rich collection. RECOLLECT: Underwear will feature some naughty and nice highlights from the MAAS collection of underwear. The display will feature objects and archival material from three distinctive Australian underwear brands ranging from the ladylike foundation garments and revolutionary anthropomorphic survey of Berlei to Bond's classic Chesty Bond vest and no-nonsense underpants. The display will also devote a section to the fetish corsets and fur trimmed whimsy of dominatrix and artist Madame Lash (Gretel Pinniger).

Undressed: 350 years of underwear in fashion, an exhibition organised by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and RECOLLECT: Underwear will be on display from Saturday 28 March at Powerhouse Museum.Powerhouse Museum, alongside Sydney Observatory and Discovery Centre, is part of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS), Australia's contemporary museum for excellence and innovation in applied arts and sciences. The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences has a vast and diverse collection of over 500,000 objects.

The V&A is the world's leading museum of art and design with collections unrivalled in their scope and diversity. It was established to make works of art available to all and to inspire British designers and manufacturers. Today, the V&A's collections, which span over 2000 years of human creativity in virtually every medium and from many parts of the world, continue to intrigue, inspire and inform.

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