Sir, where did you get that silhouette? Back in time, if you saw a knight wearing armor or a noble prancing around in tights, you would have noticed a discreet bulge between his legs. Until November 24, La mécanique des dessous, une histoire indiscrète de la silhouette (“Mechanical undergarments, an indiscreet history of the silhouette”) explores this ‘underworld’.
The Musée des Arts Décoratifs displays female and male undergarments fashioned to artificially attain an ideal of beauty and a desirable silhouette through mechanical under garments. The exhibition covers the fourteenth century until today.
Some of the artificial undergarments presented in the exhibition are the fly, the pannier, the corset, the crinoline, the bustle, the pouf, the stomach belt, the bra and other vestimentary devices fashioning the body by means of whalebones, hoops and cushions according to the changing dictates of fashion.
The exhibition includes videos of advertisements, movie excerpts of women dressing in the mechanical garments, a dress-up room with cages, bustles, bustiers and a plastic surgeon’s body-sculpting video. Torso Mannequins close out the exhibit reflecting each specific period in the history of fashion. Men and women are subject to the current “cultural body” rather than the “natural body”.