A unique exhibition looks beneath the bustle and the girdle


‘The mechanics underneath: An indiscreet history of the silhouette’ is a fascinating exhibition displaying the panniers, corsets, bustles and other mechanical devices we have invented to improve our figures through the centuries.

This exhibition explores the artifices used by women and men from the 14th century to the present day to redraw their silhouettes. This original project can be seen as a long history of the metamorphosis of the body as it is subjected to the dictates of successive fashion tendencies and/or moral codes. What are the mechanisms that have constrained women’s bodies in order to obtain a figure tightened to the point of producing fainting – uplifted bras offsetting buttocks raised to the extreme, extended hips or flattened breasts and bellies?

How have men, too, accentuated their manhood by artificially bulging torsos, adding shape to their calves or adding a codpiece? All these structures are made of whalebone, hoop padding, but also lacing, hinges, zippers, springs or elasticized tissues hidden under the clothes. French designer Constance Guisset has imagined a setting for some two hundred silhouettes, bringing together under one roof side hoops, crinolines, stomach belts, bustles, girdles and all manner of ‘push ups’ from public and private collections in France and beyond, allowing for the first time a global peek ‘underneath’.


The mechanics ‘underneath’: An indiscreet history of the silhouette

Until 24 November 2013

Les Arts Décoratifs – Mode et textile
107 rue de Rivoli
75001 Paris
Tél. : 01 44 55 57 50

Métro : Palais-Royal, Pyramides ou Tuileries
Bus : 21, 27, 39, 48, 68, 69, 72, 81, 95