Having spoken online for many years, I first met blogger and researcher Lori Smith at the Agent Provocateur soiree to celebrate the launch of the V&A’s Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear exhibition in 2016. Having both turned up in matching leopard print outfits to a lingerie related event, it was clear from the start that we were destined to get along well – and as one quarter of The Underpinnings Museum team, its a privilege to work with such an inspiring and incredibly knowledgeable human. Last year, Lori booked herself in for a lingerie shoot inspired by a 1960s bra advert, and I’m so excited to be sharing these images with you today along with the interview below…
Name: Lori Smith
Occupation: University Administrator by day / Blogger & Fashion Researcher by night
How would your best friend describe you? I’ve got absolutely no idea! Sorry, that’s not a good start to the interview, is it?
Name three things that you always carry with you? I really can’t limit myself to three… which is the reason why my handbag is always so heavy!
What inspired you to book a photoshoot? My body confidence had taken a tumble and I wanted to face my demons head on, in a supportive environment. I knew it would be important to go with a photographer who would be able to help me enjoy getting back in front of the camera again, and I also wanted recreate a very silly pose from a 1960s bra advert as well as showing off some of my lingerie collection.
Who would play you in a movie of your life? My husband once suggested Helena Bonham Carter “because she’s like a drunk auntie” and, having recently watched Ocean’s 8, I’d have to agree!
You’re also a member of The Underpinnings Museum like myself! Can you tell everyone a little more about your involvement with the project? It all began when I went to visit Karolina for a bespoke fitting and she asked if I’d be interested in looking at some of her vintage lingerie collection. Seeing as I did my Master’s dissertation on the history of the bra, and had started a collection myself, the answer was yes! Several hours later we were discussing how sad it was that personal collections rarely get shared with a wider audience, and were trying to work out if photo or video content on a blog would be the best way to showcase the pieces. Two years later, Karolina was still thinking about it and tweeted that she wished an online museum was a thing. I replied with a link to a project which was doing just that and, before long, she was costing things out for a crowdfunding campaign and The Underpinnings Museum was born.
Tell us about one of the outfits you wore for your shoot – Who made it? Why do you love it? The bespoke set Karolina made for me (mentioned above) was one of the outfits I wore and is my absolute favourite set ever, but seeing as she’s no longer taking orders I’ll tell you about the utterly adorable leopard print babydoll. It was handmade by My Retro Closet from the most glorious chiffon (who doesn’t love a bit of leopard?), and I got to choose the colour of the trim. For the shoot, I paired it with crushed velvet high-waisted knickers from Blackbird Underpinnings and this is perhaps the most comfortable yet glamourous lingerie combination I own.
What song gets you on the dancefloor? Pretty much anything Madonna released in the 80s and 90s.
What are you most proud of in your career so far? Realising that the version of ‘ambition’ that I’d been taught was not the only one. It took a while, but I’m proud that I figured out how to do things my own way – which is earning money via a job that gives me enough time off to do the things I really love. I’ve been nailing work/life balance since day 1.
What is your top body confidence tip? Surround yourself with happy positive people who give compliments. There is no other single thing that will improve your mental health and body confidence than cutting toxic folk out of your life and being surrounded by positivity.
What will your autobiography be called? My Life in Bras
If you could be a model for any brand, which brand would it be and why? Playful Promises! I love their diverse choice of models (for both campaigns and product pages), their commitment to increasing their size range and, of course, their amazing designs. If they ever need a short UK size 16 woman in her 40s, I’m so there!
What exciting project are you working on right now? I’ve just finished two long articles that will be published online later this year. One is an academic piece based on my Master’s research which will be published in the Autumn 2018 issue of The Journal of Dress History. The other is a more personal article about my career journey so far, which will be published in The Fashion Studies Journal. Continuing in the spirit of The Underpinnings Museum, both are free online resources and I highly recommend you take a look at both.