The Fashion Archives and Museum’s latest exhibit, (Re)Shaping the Body is now open to the public through November 21, 2023. The exhibit explores body modifying underwear and optical illusion tailoring to alter the shape of the human body to match the fashion ideal of different decades.
Corsets, bustles, cages and more will be on display, as well as fully mounted garments to showcase how the body was built up, altered or reduced over different centuries. Organized by body part, the objects chosen for the exhibit considers the human body literally from head to toe. The oldest item on display is a set of stays dating to ca. 1755-1765.
The director, Dr. Karin J. Bohleke, comments that “Christian Dior famously stated that without foundation, there is no fashion. The history of men’s and women’s fashions is indeed the story of the foundation garments essential to creating the appearance of a specific body type or attribute that rarely matches most potential wearers. This explores the hidden layers and tailoring efforts that literally engineer the body into a different shape. Corsetry, for example, is alive and well, only today we call it “shapewear,” or, more specifically, “Spanx.”
The exhibit will be open on Friday, June 2, from 12:30 to 2:30 for additional special hours beyond the established schedule.