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DressUnddress: To Conceal or To Reveal?

Start Date 26 February 2022
End Date 20 November 2022
Venue ModeMuseum
Location Hasselt, Belgium
Curator Murielle Scherre
A black dress, playsuit and lingerie worn on white mannequins in a display case.
Three black outfits on mannequins are set against purple material dividing the space. Behind the mannequin on the right is a black and white duster with plumes of feathers.
Sculptures of three nude torsos sit on purple plinths

Revealing the (naked) body is again permissible. That has been amply proven by recent fashion weeks: naked dresses, miniskirts and crop tops are all the rage. Some celebrities, nevertheless, favour outfits that cover them from head to toe. What are your own beauty ideals? How do you reflect your norms and values in your outfit? And above all: what influences you in that choice?

For centuries fashion has been alternating between concealing and revealing. What is acceptable in fashion today was unacceptable yesterday and vice versa. In the one era a glimpse of a bare ankle is shocking, but in another it is a naked back… What triggers this ebb and flow? How have designers past and present responded to it? In the exhibition DressUndress Hasselt Fashion Museum searches for answers to these fascinating questions.

A quick glance at fashion history reveals that this tension between concealing and revealing is influenced by time-specific values and norms. An era’s prevailing ideas about gender, physicality, beauty, sexuality, modesty and decency are therefore reflected in its fashion. How? By either concealing the body – or parts of it – or by emphasising and highlighting it.