Tern de Sant Valeri Dalmatic
Iberic Peninsule
Teixit de les rosasses: silk and gold pseudolampas, with tapestry in breast ornament.
Sleeves: teixit de les aus fènix, silk and gold lampàs, 14th century Central Asia
Purchase, 1932
MTIB 5.203


Permanent exposition
Rather than merely presenting the collection of clothing from the 16th century to the present, whether by chronological order or by designer, this exhibition explores the relationship between clothes and the body, a relationship has not always remained the same over the centuries. From the 16th century to the present, clothes have alternately compressed or freed, stylised or conferred volume. 

Posted 26 June 2018

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The Clothed Body illustrates how far the dictates of fashion can impose conditions of servitude or slavery. In 2017, the exhibition was revised and extended to include outstanding designs illustrating contemporary Spanish fashion from the 1990s to the present. The new additions include 12 dresses, as well as works by seven designers recently inducted into the Museum collections. More articles by designers already represented, such as Sibylla, Ailanto and Miriam Ponsa, were also added, as well as pieces by Lydia Delgado, CarlotaOms, Isometric, Emilio de la Morena, Krizia Robustella, Brain&Beast, Celia Vela and Armand Basi. A new edition of the catalogue has also been published. 

Content: Clothing and fashion collections
Area: 657 m2
Number of pieces: 173
Duration: 5 years
Curators: Teresa Bastardes and Sílvia Ventosa.
Exhibition design : Julia Schulz-Dornburg, in cooperation with Eugenia Troncoso
Graphic design: AAAA. Pere Canals and Daniel Pujal 3
173 dresses and frames, from the 16th century to present day creators, explain how clothes model the body 

Silk cannalé and damask, silk ribbons
Fabric made in Valencia
Donated by Manuel Rocamora, 1969
MTIB 88006 

Silk taffeta and satin, silk velvet ribbon
Donated by Manuel Rocamora, 1969
MTIB 88073

Dressing the Body unravels the fashion system
Dressing the Body. Silhouettes and Fashion (1550-2015) is an exhibition on the development of forms and how clothing models the body. It has the rigour of the exposition of a thesis, the spectacle of a great scenic mise en scene and its own tone which allows the visitor to plunge into the history of clothes and the ideas behind outlines, which change with the times. The basis of the historical collection is the extraordinary donation of dresses by Manuel Rocamora (1969), heritage of the city of Barcelona, from which we can see 58 exhibits. The collection has been updated in recent years to include the works of the latest creators and the latest fashion tendencies. Despite the years and centuries since they were put together, the 111 dresses and 62 inner frames we can see in the exhibition shine as if they were new. A meticulous restoration has recuperated and made visible colours and patterns. Sílvia Ventosa and Teresa Bastardes have curated this exhibition. Assembly was carried out under Julia Schulz-Dornburg, with the collaboration of Eugenia Troncoso. A series of audiovisuals by PROXI.ME. Christian Schärmer and Rein Steger, help explain concepts related to each era in simple, concise and educational language.

The beginning of the exhibition explains five basic actions which have been used to modify the body’s appearance throughout the history of the dress: to widen (through frilly necks, exaggerated busts, pumpkin culottes and puffed out frontispieces, frills and bows), to reduce (through tight bodices and corsets), to lengthen (with wigs and ornaments, top hats or platform shoes) and to profile (with leggings and tights which create a filiform outline, singlet or fishnet); and a fifth action, to reveal (through transparencies and minimal pieces of clothing), corresponding to times of freedom which break with conventions and artifice in clothing: the French Revolution, for example, the twenties and thirties, and the sixties in the 20th century.
In each era, depending on the fashion, these five actions model the body through clothing. There are multiple readings connecting forms and fashion with the aspirations of men and women, with the ever-changing canon of beauty, with forms of social representation and moral conventions, which evolve with western history. The exhibition invites the spectator to take a fascinating journey through the history of culture, with dress, forms and the body as protagonists 

Anita Monrós (1882-1959)
Silk crepe georgette and gauze, fringes, embroidered with beads, sequins and silver thread
Donated by Manuel Rocamora, 1969
MTIB 88165 

Silk brocaded cannalé with gold thread, stays
Donated by Manuel Rocamora, 1935
MTIB 21959

Each time has its own forms
This journey comprises large glass cases organized into ten historical eras: from the world of the courtesans of the 16th and 17th centuries to present day designers. They explain the evolution of fashion, from the superposition of the five actions described at the very beginning: after the world of the courtesans came the revolution, the return to order of the Restoration, the apotheosis of the bourgeois life style, the triumph of industrialization, Modernism, the twenties and thirties, the golden age of haute couture, ready to wear clothes, and globalization.
One example: Modernist clothes reflect a taste for curves, the whiplash, which applied to a woman’s dress gives an S shape: frills and flounces puff out sleeves and skirts. The arms and bust form a single volume pushing forward. The corset constrains the bust and the waist. They get to be so long that they impede movement and even cause serious health problems because since they constrain the body they change the position of the internal organs. The British tailor John Redfern creates the jacket and dress for greater comfort. Towards 1900 the figure becomes more svelte and skirts with corolla take on the shape of a flower. The dress cannot be separated from the other arts: it reflects the same idealized and decorative taste. 

Another example: between 1919 and 1930 the dress shows the body, which is displayed or insinuated. Women show their legs for the first time in history. Corsets disappear and the body is unchained. Outlines become straight and simple; gowns are not a suit of armour but rather a comfortable functional piece. Taking the waters is considered a healthy activity and people begin to go to the beach. The elegance of the dress is freedom to move. This stage has three proper names: Paul Poiret, who by observing the freedom of gesture of dancers creates a new way of dressing without the constraint of the corset; Marià Fortuny, who takes Greek statues as a model and creates the Delphos pleated silk gown, and Gabrielle Chanel, who conceives a simplified outline for women, using comfortable fabrics —woollen goods— and adds trousers.

Ensemble of shirt and trousers
Esteve Pila (1937-1968)
Shirt of machine lace, wool gabardine trousers
Donated by Esteve Pila through the Cercle d’Escriptors de la Moda, 1982
MTIB 143144

Autumn-winter collection 1956-57
Cristóbal Balenciaga (1895-1972)
Bodice of draped silk tulle skirt, silk taffeta flower, skirt of silk satin
Label: Balenciaga Avenue Georges V. Paris
Donated by the Asociación Española de Productoras de Fibras Químicas, Sra. Aguirre de Azañón, 1981
MTIB 109904 

A spectacular and savvy show
Each of the large glass cases contains fixed elements. A mannequin with mobile parts allows a description of the actions performed on the body. A reproduction of a painting from the time (with a lenticular screen to simulate movement) or, in modern times a projection, show the cultural context of the clothes. A golden mannequin standing out among all the others presents a contemporary dress, echoing historical forms and adapting certain aspects of them. This helps show the connection between the work of today’s creators and the history of fashion, understood as a great collection of ideas, concepts and forms. Finally, the dresses, splendid, well-lit and arranged in theatrical manner; a selection of the best from each era, unique pieces, preserved over the centuries and restored for this exhibition. Over and above the discourse proposed by the exhibition, the visitor can dwell on other aspects: colours, embroideries or patterns.

The collection grows and arrives at the present day
The glass cases form a central architectonic body which gives form to the room. Around them is a timeline on the history of the dress, with illustrations, animations and in more recent times, film. The exhibition closes spectacularly with a space dedicated to the 20th century, where dresses and film join together in an installation conceived as a play with mirrors. Lastly, the latest fashion contributions: the Museu del Disseny has come to an agreement with 080 Barcelona Fashion to gradually increase its assets with dresses by new creators. A series of important acquisitions has also been made to update and round off the collection.

Ensemble of body, corset and culottes
La Marthe (Marta Esteban, 1971)
Body of knitted polyester and elastane fabric, ribbon of cotton twill, undercorset of cotton twill, plastic stays, ribbon of satin polyester and cotton twill, culottes of cotton organza, knitted polyester and elastane, plastic stays, ribbon of cotton twill
Label: La Marthe
First Prize, International Apparel Federation, Taipei, 2006
Donated by La Marthe
MTIB 4231/14

Hard Edge collection, autumn-winter 2013-2014
Amaya Arzuaga (1970)
Cape of wool felt. T-shirt of knitted cotton and synthetic fibres. Merino wool crepe trousers
Label: AMAYA Arzuaga
Donated by Amaya Arzuaga, 2014

Ensemble: dress and jacket
Dead Bird or El Cuervo collection, autumn-winter 2007-2008
José Castro (1971)
Cotton voile, leather gloves belt
Donated by Jose Castro, 2014
MTIB 4222/14 

Blouse and skirt ensemble
Marina Pujadas (1983)
L’infinit collection
Silk organza blouse, polyester mikado skirt
MTIB 4211/14
Donated by Marina Pujadas, 2014 

Dressing the Boddy –Silhouettes and fashion, 1550-2015
Teresa Bastardes Mestre and Sílvia Ventosa Muñoz
Museu del Disseny de Barcelona. Institut de Cultura. Ajuntament de Barcelona
Publication year 2014
ISBN 978-84-9850-608-2
Number of pages 170
Size 165 mm x 230mm
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Institut de Cultura
 Pl. de les Glòries Catalanes, 37-38
08018 – Barcelona, Spain
+43 (0)93-256 68 00

Txell Miras (1976)
Ensemble: blouse, skirt and shorts
Framing collection, autumn-winter 2009-2010
Terrassa (Barcelona)
Blouse of viscose fibre and cotton taffeta, wool twill skirt with wood frame, cotton twill shorts, two coins with inscription
Label: Txell Miras
Donated by Txell Miras, 2014
MTIB 4228/14 

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