The Underpinnings Museum - Of Space Suits and Lingerie

The Underpinnings Museum photography by Tigz Rice Studios
The Underpinnings Museum photography by Tigz Rice Studios

The Underpinnings Museum - no people in space without our underpinnings, who knew! It was the craftsmanship of lingerie seamstresses and company Playtex who built the first space suits. Didn't know that? Me neither - until I watched the video pitch for the super awesome kickstarter that started today: The Underpinnings Museum.

Their kickstarter describes it like this:

As frivolous as it may seem on the surface, underwear plays a pretty important role in people's lives. Documentation of lingerie in the larger world of fashion isn't as extensive as other areas, and it is important to document these beautiful objects for the future. These delicate garments are a finite resource that cannot last forever: in many instances, century old silk is already fragile and beginning to shatter. The online museum offers a perfect platform to record these items before they succumb to the ravages of time.

Why should you care?

SO MANY REASONS. This following list was my first draft that I wrote and I initially wanted to delete it but it kinda still says it all:

  1. historical stuff
  2. women's stuff - from a feminist perspective.
  3. frilly stuff
  4. pants
  5. throw moneys at awesome people

I think it goes without saying that I absolutely adore lingerie and underwear. What people who know me only from my blog might not know is that I'm also an amateur seamstress (as in, I don't know what I'm doing but I love doing it) and super interested in a lot of crafting. And especially interested in all the tiny details that go into our clothes, our musical instruments, whatever! An online museum detailing all those tiny things, showing the history of our underwear - especially from perspective often forgotten: women's view on women's stuff (who knew that would be a thing in the fifties? ;) )

1950s lace ruffle merry widow underpinnings museum photography by Tigz Rice Studios

So, who is behind this project?

Three of my favourite people in the lingerie world, each of whom with their own special view and expertise.

Karolina Laskowska - one of the best lingerie designers of our time in my opinion. Since she already won a ton of awards for her designs that might not be only my opinion ;) Also she knows stuff about historical lingerie that just takes my breath away. Collects old lingerie and gets a bit crazy about tap pants.

Lori Smith - BSc Textile Design and Design Management, and MA History and Culture of Fashion
You know her from her blog, her numerous witty tweets and, if you are located in the UK, have maybe already heard one of her talks about the history of underwear.

Tigz Rice - In the lingerie world mostly known for her amazing lingerie and boudoir photography. She's also a self confessed lingerie addict (aren't we all!).

What will the museum be like?

A resource for lingerie lovers around the world - since it is online, it is easily accessible for all of us around the world. and for free! The museum, once kickstarted, will be creating revenue from sponsors and selling merchandise. It will show awesome historical undies and help us find out not only about all the pretty stuff, but also really interesting things that are often forgotten in regular museums: Like, underwear and periods.

Why do they need our help?

An online museum needs great pictures, and great pictures need - manneqins. This is honestly something I did not think of before talking about this museum. But yes, you do need different silhouettes for displaying different garments of different periods - it's clear now! 
They have a great chart on how they plan to spend the kickstarter money - check it out.

I think this picture description is rather cute:

1920s slip, photographed on Karolina's bedroom floor and badly in need of professional photography to even begin to do this piece justice. Part of The Underpinnings Museum collection.
20s Slip

What is in it for you?

Starting at 3GBP I believe there are pledges suitable for everyone. Show your support by acquiring post cards, keychains or tote bags. If you have a bit more money to spare then why not order silk knickers with the "Underpinnings museum" logo on it? 
And, if, like me, you like to sew, there's absolutely no getting away of this awesome and non-expensive perk: The digi 1 pack will deliver THREE original patterns taken from garments out of the collection: a 1920s bandeau, a 1950s spiral stitch bullet bra and a 1950s cathedral boned bra. Plus high resolution pictures. I mean COME ON I NEED THIS.

During my stay in London this summer I had the absolute pleasure to meet Karolina Laskowska - and have her show me the V&A lingerie exhibition. It is AMAZING what this woman knows about lingerie. Did you know there was a specialty machine thing to do the flossing in Victorian Corsets? Or that Lingerie seamstresses helped sew NASA suits? Or that the spiral stitching on 50s bras was done with a specialty machine too? No? Me neither! Until I met her.
On the Underpinnings Museum facebook page there are already two live video talks (more to come!) where Karolina shows and talks about some of her items that will be displayed in the museum. You can re-watch the first one here on their page.

I asked the three initiators of the project about, if they could pick whatever they want, what would be the garment they would love to be able to showcase in the Museum:


I'd choose the bustier Madonna wore on the cover of Like a Virgin. I would love to see it up close, look at how it's made and compare it to corsetry from the 1950s.


The gold metal corset from Thierry Mugler's Fall 1995 catwalk


The Mr Pearl for Alexander McQueen corset from the Dante AW96/97 collection.

Now I'm swooning!

If this is of any interest to you then why not consider backing this project? The pledges are awesome, the whole idea is amazing. If you want to spend some money you can not only help this wonderful resource come to live but also get yourself some awesome stuff - and if you don't have any money to spare at the moment please consider sharing this project. Tell your friends, tell your peers, spread the word. 

Personally I opted for the calendar, the digi pak with three patterns, and a keyring. This really is a project close to my heart so I hope that a lot of people will feel the same way about this!


All pictures in this blog post are the property of the Underpinnings Museum.

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