RetroRama celebrates intimates' past

Each year, RetroRama celebrates fashions of the past while giving event-goers an excuse to put on their best retro fashions. This Thursday, it returns to the Minnesota History Center with a fashion show, vintage boutiques, activities, music, and food. But this year, there's a twist.

Coinciding with the History Center exhibit "Underwear: A Brief History," which opened last Saturday, RetroRama 2011 will focus on the more intimate layers of our dressing past--underwear.

In particular the Minnesota-based undergarment company of yore, Munsingwear, is a source of inspiration for much of the event. The fashion show (which features local designers Christopher Straub, Danielle Everine, Samantha Rei, Heather Luca, and Sarah White) will include "underwear-inspired" pieces that function as outerwear, as well as select vintage undergarments.

According to Aleah Vinick, the coordinator of RetroRama, the designs will be "classy and elegant, while also reflect[ing] the spirit of Munsingwear." Which, she added, "was classy and elegant."

Vinick predicts a particular highlight of the show will be former Project Runway contestant Christopher Straub's collection, as it was inspired by an antique knitting machine used by Munsingwear.

Susan Marks will also be on hand to sign copies of her book In the Mood for Munsingwear, which examines the history of company and its role in the undergarment industry.

Even the activities will be underwear-themed, including a station for decorating men's boxers (if you are more of a briefs kind of guy -- or gal, there will be spectacles to bedazzle as well).

In addition to taking home memento boxers or glasses, attendees can peruse boutiques by Blacklist Vintage, the Spectacle Shoppe, and Girl Creations, and pick up vintage items that suit their fancy.

The evening will also include cocktail demos by Iron Bartender Jasmine Poland, baking demos by Michelle Gayer of Salty Tart, bar games hosted by Drinking With Ian's Ian Rans, and music by Southside Aces and DJ Jake Rudh.

Which brings us to the question that many RetroRama fans are no doubt pondering--how does one dress for an underwear-inspired vintage fashion event?

While past RetroRama attendees favored vintage cocktail dresses, chances are that one will see a lot of lace and sheer fabrics at this year's event. Even if it is more of a challenge than picking out a fabulous dress, Vinick hopes that "people attend to their foundation garments," as much as their outerwear. No doubt this will make for some interesting outfits (and subsequent people watching), which is perhaps the true highlight of the event.

Let's hope for nice weather or people will be shaking in their skivvies.

RetroRama takes place Thursday, May 12, from 7 to 10 p.m. For more information and tickets, visit the Minnesota History Center's website.

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