No, the smile isn‘t a thing. Women are never fully ready and dressed without the lingerie that suits them right. What‘s underneath, what clings to their frame can either make or break an outfit. And for the fearless ones, lingerie went from underwear to outwear. It all started with one and only Madonna (so really a while ago) and the movement has been widely accepted by every daring teenager around.
Once seen as the forbidden fruit, lingerie was sacred and meant only for the eyes of one‘s husband (we presume at least). Fast-forward to present times – the stunning bodies of Candice Swanepoel and Lily Aldridge bathing in bejeweled, Miracle bras and cheeky shorts. They are making their way to your mail boxes and TVs and they are here for every husband of the world to admire and feast their eyes on!
Before the angels of Victoria‘s Secret rocked the runways, guys in the 1950s were hollering Joan Crawford and her soft lace chemise. Quite a lot has changed in the past few decades. For Keni Valenti from Wynwood‘s Museum of Fashion (Miami, FL) the history and evolution of lingerie if well worth mentioning. The exhibition in the museum, opened on 9th August is dedicated only to lingerie and its styles and is called Boudoir. “They call me the Wizard of Wynwood”, Valenti says. And he is! His closet is full of antique goodies.
Valenti is quite a vintage junkie, and in the past 40 years has collected a couture collection of over 20.000 pieces. In July, he hosted an Indian-inspired show in June and Best of New York exhibition featuring Max Wilson from Parsons School of Design as a guest curator. For Boudoir, Valenti brought in Cristina Forestieri, a local vintage lingerie collector and local prop stylist, to strip the blue, bald-headed mannequins all the way. Forestieri believes that Keni‘s collection is second to none and there‘s no way to compete, even though she has contributed almost a half of the exhibition‘s pieces.
Since lingerie wasn‘t exactly a crucial piece of the wardrobe until the 1920s, Valenti and Forestieri introduced lingerie‘s beginning with the time of 1930s, when the Great Depression was still running strong. Valenti shows two beautifully made, floor-length gowns that were the nightgowns of 1930s. Lavish in silks, coated with lace techniques and completely handmade. Even though the gowns supposedly provide quite enough coverage to be seen as something any woman could wear, they were still seen as a kind of honeymoon negligees.
And the decades moved on, the fabric and virginal innocence shrunk as well. Short sleeves from the 1930s have disappeared in time. Lighter, sheerer fabrics and styles took their place, revealing the female anatomy more and more. The 1950s were the times the things got spicy: introduction of the modern-day bra, as well as the girdle. However, the ones displayed in the exhibition were cone-shaped and somewhat reminded of the ones worn during Magde‘s Blonde Ambition Tour.
Early years of the next decade had playful babydolls inspired by Doris Day while the late 1960s – form-fitting Dior girdles.
Psychedelic, bold hues, label whores and the revolution of nylon were the things that shaped the lingerie of the 1970s. And of course Emilio Pucci was involved in all of those aforementioned things. It just wouldn‘t be right if it were any different. Valenti says that in the early ’70s Emilio Pucci jumped on the bandwagon with Formfit Rogers. Actually, if you look close on a signature Pucci gown, you can actually see E.P.F.R. in very finely printed letters. Signature patterns were trending pretty heavily in the ’70s, and so were the signature logos by the new big houses such as Dior, Gucci and even Givenchy. Those were the first steps for the label-whore society.
Sadly, the exhibition ends with the ’70s that, according to Valenti, mark the end of the nightgown era. The 1980s started a whole new era for lingerie.
The question stays, does that mean half-nude girls part deux will be a part at next month‘s exhibition? Sadly, the answer is negative. Instead of that, Valenti and his college friend Bridget Baker will be curating Asian-inspired show My Secret Life in Hong Kong.
However, until then Boudoir will continue to run its course until the 5th of September, educating us on a distant time. According to Keni “mink stoles, lingerie, and chocolate” were the essential things to keep a woman happy. Maybe not much has changed after all.