Barcelona Cultura

Dressing the body in 5 pieces

We know that visiting the four exhibitions at the Museu del Disseny is not a one-day job. And more so the case of the exhibition «Dressing the body», where one could spend hours admiring every detail of fashion from the 16th century to the latest additions from young designers. That's why we present 5 outstanding pieces from the exhibition that you shouldn’t miss!

The knight and the courtier

Life in any of the European courts of early modern times could be very tough. And even more so if you had to wear the French fashions of the 18th century, which went for a rather theatrical effect: this is the case with the 1760 French court dress you can see at the beginning of the exhibition, creating volume that was completely artificial and which will surely remind you of the painting, Las Meninas by Velázquez.

Dress and revolution

The changes brought about by the French Revolution were reflected in fashion. Napoleon even prohibited some of the aristocratic symbols, such as the corset, by decree. Thus, the dress becomes simplified, and rather reminds one of Greek statues, completely liberating the female body. If you look at this cotton dress and white embroidery (1790-1810), you will see why they were called «shirt dresses»!

Dressing up the bourgeoisie

Another revolution, the industrial, transformed the way of making fabrics. This fact has influenced the changes to the wardrobes of the new class that had just emerged, the bourgeoisie: torsos and waists become compressed, and wide skirts return like the one designed by Charles Frederick Worth in the mid-nineteenth century. The dresses become so exaggerated that they make it difficult to sit down or even pass through a door!

Haute couture

Balenciaga, Pedro Rodríguez and Asunción Bastida are some of the representatives of our own haute couture. Bastida in particular, a designer with fashion houses in Barcelona and Madrid, shows in this black suit from 1956, how the shapes of the breasts and the hips are emphasised, without many ornaments or additions.

Designers versus globalisation

It is difficult to summarise the last 25 years of fashion with just one piece: men and women modify their bodies with piercings, tattoos, and young people introduce different canons of beauty, applying innovative fabrics and high technology. This is what this dress shows with rhinestones and silk taffeta, the creation of Markus Lupfer in 2009 for the Armand Basi brand.

There are just 5 dresses that serve to offer us a little taster of the history of fashion, but there are many more that we encourage you to discover in the exhibition «El Cos Vestit. Siluetes i moda (1550-2015)» (Dressing The Body. Silhouettes and fashion (1550-2015)).

Ajuntament de Barcelona