From Publishers Weekly
This intriguing if superficial catalogue for an exhibit at the Metropolitan's Costume Institute investigates the cultural meaning of undergarments as "intimate signifiers" and illustrates its themes with photographs and paintings. Brief chapters cover the movement of lingerie from the private to the public arena, a change that dates back to a 1783 painting of Marie Antoinette in a cotton shift; the use of undergarments such as corsets to manipulate body shape; the growing popularity of decorative lingerie; and "deconstruction in contemporary costume," such as slashed T-shirts and visible briefs (as illustrated by Marky Mark's familiar Calvin Klein elastic waistband peeking over the top of his jeans). Other illustrations include Christian Francis Roth's 1991 "hobo suit" with its oversized, colorful patches and Edouard Manet's painting of Nana in her slip. At times an academic tone obscures rather than enlightens with phrases like "the greenhouse-forced cultivation of the decorative" to describe the 19th-century taste for fancy clothing, and there is little discussion of men's underwear. Martin and Koda are curator and associate curator, respectively, of the Costume Institute.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.