Peek Beneath: Zagreb to Host Exhibition of Traditional and Vintage Lingerie

Total Croatia News

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What’s hiding beneath the ruffled folk skirts?

Six months ago, we reported about an interesting ethnographic exhibition that took place in Moslavina Museum in Kutina. Titled ‘Peek beneath: underwear and hygiene’, the collection on display featured various traditional undergarments once worn in continental parts of Croatia. The exhibition was dedicated to a somewhat sensitive topic when it comes to the more traditional, rural communities; back in the day, underwear and personal hygiene weren’t exactly often discussed in public.

The exhibition was thus a rare opportunity to learn more about this peculiar part of folklore, one you otherwise wouldn’t get to discover. And yet, the location might have proved a bit problematic for some. Even though Kutina and Moslavina Museum are definitely worth a visit, it’s fair to say they’re a bit out of reach and would require planning at least a half-day trip from Zagreb or any other bigger urban hotspot. Quite a good idea on its own, but what if you only have an hour to spare, and want to take a quick look at the exhibition anyway?

This is why we were happy to hear that ‘Peek Beneath’ is going on a tour of northern and eastern Croatia, first making a stop in the capital. Starting from Thursday, April 5, the Etno Art Gallery in Zagreb will host the fascinating collection, allowing a wider audience to quite literally peek beneath the skirts on display.

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Etno Art galerija Facebook

For the next three weeks, the project devised by Moslavina Museum will be a guest of the capital, the visit organised in collaboration with the Cultural and Artistic Centre Travno from Zagreb. Here’s an overview of the exhibition in case you want to refresh your memory:

“Underwear, in the sense the word implies today, wasn’t introduced in Croatia before the end of the 19th century, and it did not use to be a part of traditional costumes. Ruffled petticoats and summer underpants lined with lace were brought to these parts by women from other parts of Europe, such as Slovakia and Hungary; women used to wear multiple petticoats at a time, ranging from short and tight as the base and layered with rich, starched long skirts tightened around the waist. Croatian women thus started following the fashion – during housework or any other kind of daily activities, when the outside skirts and dresses raised a bit, a lacy petticoat had to peek out from beneath. 

Traditional female undergarments such as bras, corsets and pants weren’t worn at all, apart from when women were on their period – when they had ‘those things’, as the then-sensitive issue used to be referred to back in the day. Men, on the other hand, used to wear multiple underpants at once, especially in winter, under thick linen or plush trousers. When it comes to modern garments, linen bras, as well as silk or linen slips and babydolls, came into fashion only in the second half of the 20th century.

When you think of it, whatever was hidden underneath people’s clothes, be it underwear or anything regarding personal hygiene and private lives, didn’t become a subject of public debate until later in the 20th century. ‘Peek beneath’ is a rare window into life as it used to be, presenting a fascinating display of our ancestors’ intimate matters.”


Etno Art Galerija, Ulica Baruna Trenka 1, 10000 Zagreb
Working hours: Mon – Fri 10:00 – 18:00, Sat 10:00 – 13:00



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