The Underpinnings Museum

The Underpinnings Museum
The Underpinnings Museum
Photography by Tigz Rice Studios

I hope that people will benefit from the museum by not only learning about the history of these garments, but also being inspired by these beautiful objects.

It’s not uncommon to see fashion museums and exhibitions around the globe. They offer plenty of information for those wanting to study more about the history of fashion and, consequently, the history of the world. Through the clothes worn, the changes our society faced during the years can be seen and comprehended. And if the clothes are the door to perceiving history, underwear is definitely the foundation of it all.

Karolina Laskowska is one of the founders of the Underpinnings Museum, a project for an online museum focused on vintage and modern undergarments – professional photography and period-appropriate mannequins are a part of this incredible project that is being funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign. She talked about the project in an interview for The Lingerie Journal, explaining everything involved:

The Underpinnings Museum
The Underpinnings Museum
Photography by Tigz Rice Studios

Interview with Karolina Laskowska, from The Underpinnings Museum:

1. Karolina, could you explain us the Underpinnings Museum project and the people involved in it?

The history of lingerie is an important part of the history of women’s changing role in society, yet it is rarely given the attention it deserves. The Underpinnings Museum is a radical innovation in showcasing and documenting exquisite objects, dedicated to the evolution of underwear through the ages.

Whilst high profile exhibitions on the history of lingerie hit the headlines in Paris, New York, Sydney and now London, and brands seek to celebrate their heritage by looking to their archives for inspiration, lingerie lovers can struggle to find in depth information and analysis of garments. The Underpinnings Museum aims to satisfy this desire by offering free access to all, with high-quality photography capturing the garments in exquisite detail. Each object is accompanied by extensive technical and historical contextual information.

The museum creates an invaluable community resource: whether it’s for lingerie lovers, fashion students, historians or home sewers, permanent items and regular exhibitions offer an unparalleled depth of insight and fresh perspectives on the world of undergarments through the ages and across the globe.

The museum is an ongoing project, constantly updating and expanding its collections. Beginning by documenting the extensive vintage collection a founding member (dating between 1880-1960), the project will add crucial historical pieces to the archive and explore contemporary design controversies.

The motivating drive behind the museum is the precocious and prodigious talent of lingerie designer, writer and academic, Karolina Laskowska. With a first in BA Contour Fashion at De Montfort University and numerous awards for her design work, she has been writing for The Lingerie Addict (the premier consumer-focused lingerie website in the world) since 2011.

Joining her is Lori Smith, colloquially known in the lingerie community as “The Bra Master” due to her unique academic research on twentieth and twenty-first century underwear. With an Masters in the History and Culture of Fashion from the London College of Fashion (UAL), she is a regular speaker in academia on the topic of lingerie, including at the Costume Society, the Association of Dress Historians, the M&S Company Archive and the Victoria and Albert Museum. She has been blogging since 2002.

Tigz Rice is a photographer specialising in lingerie and boudoir with a vintage aesthetic. An Adobe Community Professional and a Wacom Influencer, she originally trained in Illustration at Westminster University, before her work naturally progressed into the world of digital imaging and retouching. With a client list that includes Cosmopolitan Magazine, Westfield London and St Germain Liqueur, her work has dominated the European burlesque scene since 2009 and Tigz has been twice listed as one of the global top 10 burlesque women non-performing professionals!

The Underpinnings Museum
The Underpinnings Museum
Photography by Tigz Rice Studios

2. How did it start? What drove you to organize, research and display your vintage collection?

I’ve always had a tendency to collect things that I consider beautiful. Not far from where I lived during my time at university was an excellent vintage shop, and I inevitably started collecting lingerie there to study for my own design work. In the years that followed, the collection inevitably grew and I took a greater academic interest in lingerie and its history. I love that many of these garments have such rich stories to tell and it’s always seemed a shame for me to keep them locked away in storage. Eventually I came to the conclusion that they needed to be treated with great care, as a museum would.

3. Your kickstarter campaign just begun and it’s already a success! Did you expect so much support and interest on the museum in so little time?

I absolutely didn’t expect to see this much support so early on. It’s so lovely to see the museum resonate with this many people, and it makes me feel very optimistic about the museum’s future!

The Underpinnings Museum
The Underpinnings Museum
Photography by Tigz Rice Studios

4. Why do you think this project is so important? How would people benefit from the Museum?

I feel that the museum is important because lingerie just doesn’t get the same level of attention as other areas of fashion, despite its huge importance: the history of lingerie runs parallel with social change and design. There are few other areas of fashion that you see such levels of craftsmanship and innovation. I hope that people will benefit from the museum by not only learning about the history of these garments, but also being inspired by these beautiful objects.

5. One of your objectives with the Kickstarter campaign is to acquire period-appropriate mannequins. Could you tell us a bit more about the importance of those mannequins on the museum?

The acquisition of period-appropriate mannequins is important because it will help us to showcase the museum collections as accurately as possible: allowing us to replicate the garment fit as it would have been intended when those garments were made. This can be challenging, if not impossible, with modern mannequins as they’re representative only of the current ‘ideal’ body shape, and their hard frames don’t exactly allow for much adjustability. It’s about doing these beautiful garments justice, rather than just making do with how they’re displayed.

6. What are your objectives with the Underpinnings Museum in the future? Do you plan on working along with companies or collectors to make the Museum collection even bigger?

Our initial plan is to document the current collection but we definitely want to expand on this in the future: bringing in more vintage styles (and a greater representation of each era). We have had offers of donations from multiple people so far which is incredibly exciting and touching! We also hope in the future to showcase contemporary designs, which would entail working with companies and designers.

The Underpinnings Museum
The Underpinnings Museum
Photography by Tigz Rice Studios

7. What has been the most difficult part of the project? And the most fun?

The most difficult part of the museum has definitely been funding. My day job of lingerie design isn’t exactly been well paying, so there’s been a lot of scrimping and saving to get the museum to its current stage. Setting up the Kickstarter was also quite a challenge, with a lot of work involved in the logistics and costings. I’d say the most fun part so far has been seeing the images from our first photoshoot: they definitely helped to cement the idea that this is a project worth pursuing!

8. What is your favorite piece from the collection?

That’s an impossible question, I don’t have a single favourite piece; I think I’d even struggle to narrow it down to ten! From our first photoshoot, which will be the first objects to go up on the website, I’d say that my favourite piece is a pair of 1930s sheer black tap pants with intricate lace appliqué on them. They’re just utterly incredible, both in design and construction techniques.

The Underpinnings Museum
The Underpinnings Museum
Photography by Tigz Rice Studios

9. And finally, how can everyone help you make this project come true?

Honestly, right now the best way to help is to support our Kickstarter campaign: whether it’s through pledging to the campaign (in exchange for some gorgeous rewards such as lingerie printed calendars and vintage garment patterns) or through simply sharing the campaign and helping to get the word out about the project. We’re relying on the Kickstarter to help bring the museum to life!

The Underpinnings Museum
The Underpinnings Museum
Photography by Tigz Rice Studios

Discover more about the Underpinnings Museum:

Website: underpinningsmuseum.com
E-mail: info@underpinningsmuseum.com

Comments are closed.

Find TLJ on Social Media

Archives