The Underpinnings Museum Tigz Rice Karolina Laskowska Lori Smith Vintage Lingerie

The Underpinnings Museum: Vintage Lingerie

Sep 29, 2016 | Lingerie

The Underpinnings Museum

Introducing The Underpinnings Museum: the first extensive online museum dedicated to all things lingerie.

When lingerie designer Karolina Laskowska approached me earlier in the year about a new project, The Underpinnings Museum, I knew straight away it was something I wanted to be involved with. I’d call myself a collector of lingerie, but my overflowing wardrobe is no match for the extensive collection of lingerie owned by Karolina. Not only does her collection of womenswear span wardrobes, crates and even rooms, it also spans centuries with carefully selected items from the late 19th century through to the late 1950s, primarily European and American design.

Through the wonders of the internet, the aim of The Underpinnings Museum is create a glorious online tribute to the wonderful world of underthings: comprehensive and freely accessible to all, regardless of geographical location. The museum will be an incredible resource for all lovers of fashion. For students, home sewers, costumers, lingerie designers and many others who just love to look at pretty things.

As frivolous as lingerie may seem on the surface, underwear plays an important role in people’s lives. Documentation of lingerie in the larger world of fashion isn’t as extensive as other areas, and it is important to document these beautiful objects for the future. These delicate garments are a finite resource that cannot last forever: in many instances, century old silk is already fragile and beginning to shatter. The Underpinnings Museum will offer a perfect platform to preserve these items before they succumb to the ravages of time.

Initially, we hope to document the majority of Karolina’s personal vintage lingerie collection in the form a online catalogue. All objects will be professionally photographed to ensure that all are accurately represented to a high standard. Where possible, each garment will be photographed on a period-appropriate mannequin to give an accurate representation of fit. The garments will also be photographed to show interiors and all relevant construction details. Each exhibit will also be accompanied by relevant contextual information. For example: the garment origin, fabrics used, construction methods, historical significance and much more.

All of this will be supplemented with specially curated exhibitions, blog posts and constant new additions. In short, the closest digital thing to the experience you’d get in an actual museum, and even a bit extra.

If the museum proves a success, we hope to not only expand on these historical collections but to also move into underwear of different cultural backgrounds and to introduce a contemporary gallery to offer an insight into beautiful modern design. In time, we also hope to curate exhibitions exploring numerous valuable themes in the world of intimates, as well as to introduce guest curators to bring in new perspectives and knowledge.

The Underpinnings Museum Tigz Rice Karolina Laskowska Lori Smith Vintage Lingerie

Who is involved?

Karolina Laskowska – founder/director/general underwear wrangler. Karolina is a lingerie designer and vintage underthings aficionado. She studied BA Contour Fashion at De Montfort University and has won numerous awards for her design work. She has been writing for The Lingerie Addict since 2011. This museum was born of her desire to share her love of underwear with the world and to provide an invaluable study resource on the topic.

Lori Smith – blogger and researcher with a focus on twentieth and twenty-first century underwear. She studied MA History and Culture of Fashion at London College of Fashion (UAL) and has spoken about her research at the Costume Society’s study day, the Association of Dress Historians conference, the M&S Company Archive and the, Victoria and Albert Museum. She has been blogging since 2002.

Tigz Rice – thats me! Most of you know all about me already, but if not, you can check out the About Tigz page and get all the gossip.

The Underpinnings Museum Tigz Rice Karolina Laskowska Lori Smith Vintage Lingerie

What is the plan and how can I help?

Currently, the groundwork for The Underpinnings Museum is already set. The website is in the process of being built and tweaked and an initial selection of objects have already been photographed for the museum. During the process of the campaign, we will be documenting and researching further objects for the collections.

We are not in a position to self-fund the entirety of this project, so with this in mind we have set up a Kickstarter project in the hope that The Underpinnings Museum will strike a chord with enough people that want to make this project a reality.

Once funds have been raised, the first plan of action is to order period-specific mannequins for the majority of garments to be displayed on. Alongside the contemporary sample size mannequin for modern garments that Karolina already owns, we hope to acquire a generic ‘vintage’ figure in smaller proportions than contemporary sample size (to suit the majority of the collection), a Victorian corset body, an Edwardian corset body and a 1930s slimline figure. These mannequins are made to order and turnaround time is estimated at approximately one month, so we anticipate this being one of the more time-consuming elements of the process. Once mannequins have been acquired then photography sessions can be booked in to populate the site, as well as fulfil rewards for our wonderful pledgers. During these periods of waiting for imagery, there will be much behind-the-scenes work in building exhibitions, researching and writing up contextual information and so on. After the initial website ‘grand opening’, we hope to update the site with new objects every few months.

We’d love it if you could help make The Underpinnings Museum a reality by donating to the Kickstarter campaign here. Please also feel free to share the project on social media and help us reach a much greater audience of lingerie lovers.

Additionally, if you have any of your own historical knowledge or vintage garments in your personal collection, we’d love to hear from you! We would especially love to include undergarments from non-Western cultures on The Underpinnings Museum. To get in touch please contact The Underpinnings Museum team here.


  1. Tony Davies

    I have recently bought a vintage suspender corset made by St Michael . If I were to give you the number from the label , would you be able to tell me the year of manufactùre of the garment ?
    I wonder if you are able to help . Many thanks
    Tony Davies .

    • Tigz Rice

      Hi Tony! I wouldn’t be able to, BUT Lori from the Underpinnings Museum knows a lot about M&S lingerie history and she would probably be your woman! Perhaps try reaching out to her via @theUPmuseum on Twitter?

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