Fashion Foundations

Two exhibits trace the history of fashion as told through undergarments

Fashion trends have long been viewed as a social barometer: reflections of a society’s values and priorities. But the garments designed to be worn underneath will often have just as much to say. Two current exhibitions are taking a closer look at how our underthings have changed to reflect the outer world.

“La mécanique du dessous,” currently showing at Paris’s Musée des Arts Décoratifs, reviews the concept of historical shapewear – the Spanx and Wonderbras of the 1300s onwards. Focusing on changes in silhouette, the exhibit takes a “behind the scenes” angle to fashion history. A survey of the artificial means used to achieve the physical beauty ideals of the time covers corsets, panniers, crinolines, girdles, and even their male equivalents (waist-cinching belts and calf and fly padding). Shapes from the wide hips and wasp waists of the 1700s to avant-garde creations like Comme des Garçons’s notorious “Bump” dresses are analyzed in sociological terms: what did they mean, and why did we want to look like this?
 
A second exhibition poses the same questions of a particularly French specialty: lingerie. Eleven of the country’s most prominent manufacturers have contributed archival designs to create an overview of lingerie from the late 19th century to the present. Over 210 pieces, from ancient corsets and the first patented bra to today’s most futuristic prototypes, trace the ways in which lingerie has reflected changing attitudes about body image, morals, and sexuality. A life-size, holographic “trans-historical striptease” visualizes the evolution of styling and silhouette decade by decade. The exhibition touches down in New York’s Chelsea Market for a week after touring in Paris, London, Shanghai, Dubai, and Berlin this the past year. Dress code: it’s what’s inside that matters. 
 
“La mécanique du dessous” runs until November 24 at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. “Lingerie Française” runs through August 6 at Chelsea Market.


Photos by Patricia Canino for the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.
 

Matrixxman Mix

We first heard Matrixxman's kickdrums and skittering beats on Mykki Blanco's April 2013 hit "God Created the Beat," and that set us on a mission to find the man behind the track's addictive production for our own mix series. Charlie McCloud - formerly one half of UK garage duo 5kinAndBone5 - is a San Francisco native whose productions often nod to the Detroit techno and Chicago house scenes that inspire him. "God Created the Beat" wasn't the first time that McCloud had paired up with Mykki Blanco and, thankfully for us, it wasn't the last, either. The two joined forces again when Matrixxman produced "Feeling Special," from Mykki's Betty Rubble: The Initiation EP. A frequent collaborator with artists like Physical Therapy, Ill Life, Myler, Le1f, and Zebra Katz, his latest EP, The XX Files, was released under Fifth Wall last month.

Matrixxman's mix opens with an extended ambient intro courtesy of Maurice's "This is Acid," followed by classics from Kraftwerk and Planet Soul, and Matrixxman's own productions and remixes.

Photo by Molly Decoudreaux

Tracklist

This is Acid Maurice

Set U Free Planet Soul

Numbers Kraftwerk

Computer World Kraftwerk

Technicolor Model 500

It's My Life Da Posse

Nasty Girl Nuttin' Nyce

Almost Gone (Matrixxman's Underground Mix) Sinden

Angry Frogs Matrixxman P.O.L. Style & Vin Sol

House Countdown (89 Mix) Serge & Tyrell

Happy Birthday Tony (Zanzibar Edit) Matrixxman & DJ Haus

Say A Prayer Pt. II Motor City Drum Ensemble

Do Your Thang One Way feat. Al Hudson

Try It Out Gino Soccio

Essentials Updated Basics

This week's Essentials feature buffed leather high-tops from Raf Simons trimmed in metallic silver - a futuristic update on an old favorite. Riccardo Tisci is channeling Man Ray with an X-ray graphic on a black sweater. Maison Martin Margiela puts a new spin on their house signature Replica sneakers, offered this season in all-over geometric stud detailing. Hedi Slimane heralds the return of grunge by means of a striped loose-knit scarf and a sleeveless sweatshirt with zip closures at the chest. And Acne’s Ace jeans - arguably the perfect black skinny - come with a light coating ideal for summer evenings and the advent of fall.

See this week's men's essentials:

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