top of page


Before the Victorian period, nightwear was virtually non-existent, with people tending to sleep in their daytime undergarments. The popularity of eastern style and nightwear grew through the japonisme movement, when Japan opened to the West in 1853. Men who had travelled East returned with bedroom garments, and lavish gowns were soon created as a symbol of luxury and wealth.

In the 1920’s nightwear was starting to replicate daytime dresses, with negligees accompanying flapper dresses, to be worn exclusively in the bedroom. The popularization of the ‘pyjama’ also grew in the 20’s, with Vogue describing it as, ‘the pyjama, once a novelty, is now an established mode…here is a great field for the display of fantasy and individuality’ (American Vogue, 1925). The fantasy element of bedroom garments was explored by couturiers, as they created styles for lounging, sleeping, and entertaining.

The glamorous gown style continued into the 1930’s, under the influence of ‘Hollywood’ movie stars. Silk robes with feather trims, lace detailing, and bed jackets grew in popularity, with people wanting to feel luxurious in the privacy of their bedroom post-war.


The feminine, classic designs of the earlier decades went through a revolution in the 1960’s, as long gowns became short babydoll dresses, and nightwear garments became sexier and more revealing. Nightwear and bedroom clothing has been closely related to the ‘erotic’, as the garments themselves caress the body and touch naked skin. 

John Galliano – London Label Corset


In 1984 John Galliano lunched his own label, after graduating Central Saint Martins with a first class degree in 1983. This silk corset inspired piece has the iconic and rare ‘London Label’ found on Galliano pieces from the 1980’s. This quilted, cream corset uses clever stitching to manipulate the padded fabric, to appear as though it holds a rigid structure. The linear seams that push the fabric out allude to the ‘whalebones’ once used in 19th century corsets, however the addition of geometric patterns in the stitching roots the garment back into the 80’s.  

John Galliano - Silk Camisoles


The camisole originated form the traditional chemise, into a light, short garment to be worn over a corset as an undergarment in the 1800’s. The wearing of camisoles continued to grow in popularity during the 1900’s, due to its flattering quality on the figure. As the restricted Victorian figure fell out of fashion, camisoles were used to fit with the flat, boyish silhouette of the 1920’s. Throughout the 1940’s-50’s camisoles became popular as bedroom and sleepwear, which was boosted in the 1980’s as lingerie grew in popularity. Designers were now adding built in bra support to camisoles, making it a durable and multifunctional garment. Silk camisole tops with spaghetti straps, like these Galliano pieces, were commonly worn as outerwear from the 1990’s, creating a chic look that took the wearer from day to night and back again. 

Vivienne Westwood reimagined the constrictive Victorian ‘corset’ in the 1970’s, and transformed it into a female symbol of empowerment, aligned to the punk movement. It was a subversive creation, and has been an iconic statement piece ever since. The corset continued to be reinterpreted in the 1980’s, as John Galliano introduced this private bedroom garment to the public as sexy outerwear, in softer shapes and satin fabrics. 

Vivienne Westwood – Red Label Corset top


Vivienne Westwood’s ‘Red Label’ was created as a youthful sister line to the main Westwood collection, during 1999-2016. This piece evokes a youthful energy in the bustier shape and soft side panels. Between 1993-99 Westwood began to produce clothes as reinterpretations of the past, citing a range of influences from English heritage, Victorian dress, and Rococo art. Westwood championed underwear as outerwear, as seen in her ‘SEX’ boutique (1974-76), and it is now part of the mainstream in today’s fashion. 

Bedroom garments have a rich tactile and multisensory quality, as they conceal and protect, while also reveal and expose. Translucent, sheer garments can cover the body, but they also offer a glimpse of the skin underneath. This duality serves for both the privacy of the bedroom and the erotic connotations of it too. 


Sexual liberation reached new heights in the 1990’s and 2000’s, and brands such as Joseph Corré’s Agent Provacateur (1994) opened as an erotic alternative to simple undergarments. The bedroom holds place for functional garments that serves the wearer throughout the varying seasons, as well as more erotic and fetishistic accessories and lingerie that are visually appealing. Nightwear continuously references garments of previous decades, and often can be seen outside of the bedroom now, as pieces become subverted. 

bottom of page