“Your frocks cannot hang perfectly unless your lingerie is cut to fit you perfectly underneath. Lovely lingerie is the basis for good dressing.”

Christian Dior

Toronto’s Design Exchange hosts Lingerie Française, a retrospective covering over 100 years of French lingerie  from eleven renowned French lingerie manufacturers — Aubade, Barbara, Chantelle, Empreinte, Implicite, Lise Charmel, Lou, Maison Lejaby, Passionata, Princesse tam.tam and Simone Pérèle. Presented chronologially, the exhibit includes 125 artifacts of luxurious lingerie from corsets to matched bras and pantysets.

This travelling exhibition, which has included stops in Paris, London, Shanghai, Dubai, Berlin and New York, is intended to convey  the influence lingerie products have been exerting on society from the late nineteenth century up to the present day. The exhibition is sponsored by French association PROMINCOR and Défi-La Mode de France.

 Catherine Orman examining the Balmain gown
(That’s my hand and hair just visible on the left)
Photo by Robert Ott, 2013

Yesterday, I had the great pleasure of having the curator of this exhibit Catherine Orman come to visit the Ryerson Fashion Research Collection. Although I was so tired (from several very late nights working on my book proposal) that I was barely coherent, we chatted about two recent corset acquisitions for the Collection, as well as some of my favourite gowns, including a Pierre Balmain couture gown called Marie Antoinette from 1955-1959 as well as a Lanvin wedding gown from c.1925-35.

The exhibit at the Design Exchange is on now until October 13, 2013. Admission is free. 


Design Exchange, 234 Bay Street, Toronto.