Going undercover

December 11, 2014 at 8:07 am Leave a comment

Amongst all the busy-ness of preparing for the Christmas markets, stringing out my birthday festival for as long as I could and all the other social activities that come with the silly season, I made it along to yet another exhibition – this time it was the Undressed: 350 Years of Underwear in Fashion show at the Queensland Museum.

On tour from the V&A Museum, this exhibition has a definite bias towards European and in particular British fashion, but it’s quite an eye-opening showcase of undergarments. Or should that be eye-watering?! Some of the corsets have such tiny waists that it makes you involuntarily wince – they would surely have caused internal injuries to the wearer!

It was interesting to note as well how much the ‘ideal’ shape has changed over time. Thankfully the wasp waist wasn’t always in vogue – for example, voluptuousness became desirable when it was associated with being rich and of a higher social status…

Undressed exhibition poster

There’s a nod to our neck of the woods too, with an example of Sarah Jenyns’ corsetry near the beginning of the exhibition. In the early 1900s, Jenyns turned her ingenuity into a formidable business empire when her husband’s preaching was not paying the bills.

While the example below looks more like a torture device to me, the mother of seven children set out to design corsets to support women’s spines and ease back pain. Unlike the products of some of her competitors, corsets from the House of Jenyns were designed for 12 different figure types and she also developed a new style of lacing which meant the woman could put the corset on themselves. Love hearing the story of a great independent woman!

Sarah Jenyns corsetry

Image courtesy of the Queensland Times.

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Entry filed under: Clothes, Places I like to visit. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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