Select pieces of Victoria Bartlett’s line — like these pictured — were featured in a serious exhibit in Milan
NPR reported at the end of last week that sales of men’s underwear in the UK remained brisk. Just last spring Alan Greenspan, the former head of the Federal Reserve, told the world that we truly don’t hit an economic downturn until men’s underwear takes a dip. In the USA, it did. But how do we judge a lauded expo of female underwear by designer Victoria Bartlett that drew crowds in Milan with another show planned for NYC in 2010? If you ask me, genius, since all women seem to be judged by the state of their undies as outies these days. (Consider them all from Lady Gaga and Britney Spears to hipster deejays wearing trashy black lace like pullovers.)
Bartlett, born in Gloucester, England (but now living in Brooklyn), adds a real sense of class and place to her original line, VPL (“visible panty line”) that gives underclothes a practical, utilitarian feel but still embraces the body in
peek-a-boo. The recent exhibit at Milan’s Dopolavoro Gallery, edited by filmmaker Douglas Keeve (“Unzipped”), exhibited photomontages of models in various poses wearing VPL. Some took on dancer Isadora Duncan’s planches or forward bends with leg held high. Others seemed not to notice the camera at all. Videos of the models played and the actual clothes were displayed as timepieces.
Unlike the American Apparel ads where barely pubescent girls perch themselves like nymphs open to violation, VPL’s girls possess a sense of self-knowing and freedom. Therein lies the art of marrying clothing with not only image but also essence. Can’t wait for the NYC show… the details are in the works.
VPL Exhibit, DOPOLAVORO Gallery, Milan