LACMA’s “Fashioning Fashion” exhibition shows how the dandies and ladies of Europe would have dressed from 1700 to 1915.
Looking at the pieces, one can only marvel. Visitors were surprised to see “feminine” articles for men, such as frocks and vests with removable chest pads. The most interesting pieces in the collection however, are the undergarments — hoop skirts, bustiers, corsets, garters, stomachers, panniers and the first bra ever are all on display.
If one feels that people today spend too much time thinking and molding their bodies into some ideal image, one should remember that it is not half as bad as what people went through in the Victorian era.
From the collection, one can see that obsessing over body image is not a new phenomenon. Men wore codpieces over their genitals to accentuate their bulge in the 15thand 16th centuries.
The collection also shows how European style was heavily influenced by India and the Far East starting in the late 17th century. European fashion embraced the new colors, patterns, textiles and fabrics that came with the East India Trading Company.
Through these articles of clothing, one can see how the changes in history are reflected in fashion.
If you are interested in the history of sexuality, colonialization, class, politics, gender or of people in general — take a look at the clothes of the past.