Barcelona Cultura

Dressing the body


Dressing the body proposes a tour of the history of garments, covering five centuries, from 1550 to 2000 – a game of fascinating parallelisms between the morphology of the human body, socio-cultural events and historic styles. Since ancient times, men and women have altered the form and appearance of their body through hairstyles, jewellery, tattoos and, above all, garments. Each period’s way of dressing has to do with moral, social and aesthetic codes.

Fashion imposes ideals of beauty. Silhouettes and volumes are altered – nature gives way to artifice. The exhibition, Dressing the body, depicts the transformations the body has undergone, prompted by changes in clothing involving five different actions, which tend to either confine or liberate it.

– Enlarge: Creating volume through stiff, bulky structures or fabrics that separate the body from the garment – petticoats, crinolines and bustles.
– Reduce: Diminishing the body’s natural forms, particularly the torso and waist – corsets, bras, girdles and bodices.
– Lengthen: Stretching one’s image to make the body appear taller – high-heeled and platform shoes, hairstyles, hats and dresses with tails.
– Outline: Contouring body forms and etching one’s silhouette – stockings, gloves and elastic-fabric or woollen corselettes.
– Reveal: Insinuating one’s shape, baring flesh and arms and showing skin – see-through fabrics, short dresses, sleeveless or with a deep plunge.

Based on these five concepts, Dressing the body proposes an unprecedented walk through the history of dress, against the backdrop of the Museu Tèxtil i d’Indumentària de Barcelona’s collection of garments and accessories and a selection of graphic media – period photographs and prints – accompanied by explanatory texts on the workings of fashion.

Dressing the body has been nominated as one of the 116 Touristic Icons of Catalunya, an initiative that identifies the most significant symbols and manifestations that represent the Catalan visual identity. The collection was prepared by the Agència Catalana de Turisme, the Direcció General de Turisme and Artesania Catalunya of CCAM, the Foment de les Arts i el Disseny (FAD), the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC) and the Institut d'Estudis Catalans (IEC). Explore 116 Touristic icons from Catalunya (The Dressed Body, number 86, page 352)

Restoration & Mannequinage: Carmen Lebrón
Cardboard Mannequin Assemblage: Carmen Lucini
Spatial Design: Julia Schulz-Dornburg, collaborator – Eugenia Troncoso
Installation Coordinator: Carmina Borbonet
Production: Grop
Lighting: Antoni Rueda
Graphic Design: Studio laVista
Audiovisual Design: Digit
Photography: La Fotogràfica



Teresa Bastardes, Sílvia Ventosa



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Ajuntament de Barcelona