I always found it difficult  to design just the outside of things. As a jewellery undergraduate, I found myself drawn to lockets, pocket watches, brooches with purses attached; pieces that had functions, often secret, other than as adornment, designs that were limited by clasps, hinges and hidden compartments. One of my tutors pointed out that function was obviously important to me, and I realised that, although I'd always wanted to work in fashion (perhaps due to a childhood of handmedowns and strict you can't wear red with pink dress codes), I had actually started engaging with it on a lower level- always questioning; what do these garments/trinkets/objects do? Why do we need them? How can they be more useful? How can the user get more out of them? Which isn't to say that I don't want the things I make to be beautiful, I do, I want them to be really beautiful, but I want my beautiful objects to do their job properly, and vice versa I want my functional objects to be completely great to look at.


And this is the part where I start geeking out about pants, why do we wear pants? They sit quite comfortably in the necessary items drawer, and yet they're function isn't often purely utilitarian. They straddle an interesting boundary between personal hygiene and social sexual conduct. They are the curtains and cradle for the most fetishised part of the human body they conceal and protect an ancient female mystery, and yet many frequently worn pairs are grey with holes in.


Lets start at the beggining; Knickers as we know them didn't start to be commonly worn til the 1950s, before that women wore loose tap pants, or french knicker style undergarments. Before Victorian times nothing was worn between a womans legs at all. In the 19th century women started wearing a long cotton or wool short, but it was open through the crotch and attached at the waist, they thought it was unhygienic to wear anything closed around the woman bits, and everything I've read seems to support that. I feel as though the correct hygiene protocol for the lady parts has been dreamt up by a donald draper charachter to sell us ever more shaming prioducts- ideally we would let the air get to our nethers, which is why, for a lot of people, breathable natural fabrics are really important. As with a lot of changes in fashion, it was technology that led aesthetics. The invention of stretch fabrics- fine knitted nylons and lycra, made a tight fitting knicker possible, and as trousers, then jeans, then super tight jeans, gained in popularity, it became the more practical option. It is still recommended that women wear a loose knicker/ or no knickers at night, then you can still wear your 60 deniers or drain pipe jeans all day but your bits are getting a regular airing which promotes a healthy habitat. So, although hygiene is commonly assosciated with the wearing of knickers, it's by no means a sensible explanation.


TBC