Undressed at the V&A

The Undressed exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum was useful in highlighting the cyclical nature of trends. It helped me to recognise that iconic, signature styles have longevity and will often come back into fashion if similar cultural themes are present.


The pieces shown in the exhibition pointed to several PESTEL factors. The most prominent were:

  • Economic – eg rationing during the war meant there was a lack of fabric
  • Social – gender & sexuality
  • Technological – innovations in fabrics, materials and manufacturing technologies
  • Environmental – sustainability, environmental consciousness

It was interesting to notice, for example, that undergarments such as the corset and crinolines were made to enhance certain aspects of the female form and situate the ‘female’ in society at that time. Positioned next to more exhibitionist underwear such as fetishwear, signifying sexual liberation, it provided an interesting point of comparison in relation to social and political factors of different eras.


V&A, 2016

It reemphasises the idea that the social zeitgeist has an effect on what consumers will eventually adopt as fashion trends.

The trend of underwear as fashion further recognises elements of femininity and liberation, which are social and political factors shown to enter consumer fashion choices. For example, the lilac lace gown below is an Elie Saab Couture (Spring 2011) dress worn by Mila Kunis to the Academy Awards.


V&A, 2016

The dress was very directional and inspired a huge insurgence of lace to the mainstream market in later seasons, showing in a ‘trickle down’ effect.


Hollywood Reporter, 2011

What is interesting is the rise in the attraction of the corset today, where endorsement by celebrities and evidence on the catwalk has reignited the desire to wear it. However, in our day and age it is a fashion statement rather than a social requirement.

L: Kylie Jenner

R: Prada

Practicing understanding the relevant PESTEL elements has given me a solid understanding of how to analyse this in terms of current trend research.




Hawthorne & Heaney at the V&A’s Undressed Exhibition





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