Feature Friday: The Underpinnings Museum
Here at Redthreaded, we make no secret of our love of corsetry and all different types of structured and unstructured undergarments, and this month’s featured business is a kindred spirit! The Underpinnings Museum is an online museum “dedicated to the evolution of underwear through the ages” by “showcasing and documenting exquisite objects.” By making their research available on their website for free, the museum has created an invaluable resource for all antique and vintage lingerie lovers!
Founder and Director Karolin Laskowska elaborated on the museum’s mission:
“The museum's initial goal was to document my personal vintage/antique lingerie collection, offering contextual information and detailed images as a study resource. Since our founding in 2016 (following a successful crowdfunding campaign), we now endeavor to offer semi-regular digital exhibitions, and to expand our collections with new acquisitions, and occasional loans from other designers and collectors. Our digital collection now span from the late 1700s to the modern day, with over 500 objects available to browse, and many more to come. We endeavor to show elements of garments that aren't necessarily focused on in traditional museums (such as garment interiors, labels and close up details).”
In addition to modern lingerie pieces, their digital collection includes a huge range of historical corsetry! Just a few examples include this gorgeous 1910s silk corset by Lafayette:
Or this 1880s S&S corded corset:
This 1830s quilted corset:
Or these 18th century stays refashioned for 19th century fancy dress wear:
They also have a number of digitized corsetry ads and catalogues, like this French 100,000 Corsets catalogue, which are another great resource for the historical costumer and corset enthusiast.
The museum routinely curates beautiful online exhibitions from their collection and the latest, Incendiary: A History of Red Lingerie is no exception! It examines the “fashionability and societal perceptions of color red in European and American women’s lingerie.” Exploring this “through three time periods—the nineteenth century, mid-twentieth century, and contemporary lingerie” with 25 pieces from the museum’s collection.
The museum also has a range of digital patterns, featuring some of the more unique and exciting pieces in their collections, like this 1900s Midbust Edwardian 4 Panel Corset. You can find this pattern and more in their Esty shop.
This is just a taste of what the museum’s website has to offer, and they have exciting ideas for future additions. Karolina commented on the museum’s upcoming plans:
“We offer a few digital patterns taken from our archive, and are hoping to gradually expand the range, and are currently working on grading some of our most popular offerings (we're next hoping to release size grades for 1900s and 1860s corsets, the patterns are currently in the testing stage). Most of our team works on a voluntary basis alongside full time employment, so progress can be a little slower than we'd like! We do also have a number of new exhibitions in development, including an exploration of cyclical design trends over the 20th century, the history and influence of the Kestos lingerie brand, but can't say when these will be ready to publish.”
If you love the Underpinning Museum’s goal and want to keep access to the collection free for all, you can support them in a number of ways. The Museum has a Patreon, with membership starting at just $2 a month.
You can also follow them on social media for all the latest updates. They are active on both Instagram (@underpinningsmuseum) and Facebook.
Finally, browse the museum’s entire collection at underpinningsmuseum.com and be sure to check out more of their fabulous exhibitions!