No granny panties here! And forget the boring T-shirt bras. Count on curves ahead with a sizzling travelling exhibit entitled Lingerie Francaise, which retraces the evolution of intimate apparel over 100 years, from painful and practical to defining the ideal of feminine beauty.
But in this age of porn, sexting and immediate gratification, has lingerie lost its power? Is our love affair with lingerie over?
“Hardly, since blatant sexuality is just that, blatant. Lingerie brings mystery and the imagination into play, and what one imagines is emotionally stronger and far more appealing than what is actually seen,” says anthropologist Dr. David Givens, author of Love Signals.
“Anthropologists have found that the interaction of clothing and bodily shape is more appealing than body shape alone,” adds Givens.
Lingerie’s sex appeal can’t be denied, especially French lingerie.
“French lingerie is synonymous of a certain art de vivre, a certain way of life very far away from vulgarity,” says expert Catherine Ormen. “It has always been on the edge of fashion… listening to women’s dreams and desires.”
According to Ormen, it’s the first wrapping for the skin. “Lingerie means that you’re in-between, not totally naked but not yet dressed either. It is the first - or the last - protection in intimacy.”
Lingerie can light the fire, she says, and help women “to be more beautiful, to improve the appearance and so, to be more self-confident, and thus able to be a kind of conquistador!”
Ormen has a passion for the fashion history, specifically intimate masterpieces, and her touring French lingerie exhibit, in Toronto September 26 to October 13, chronicles the world’s everlasting love affair with intimate under things, giving exposure to 11 of France’s leading lingerie brands.
Featuring 125 alluring and glorious pieces - including one of the first bras to corsets, G-strings and garter belts, to racy lacy pushups – the retrospective traces the history of design, creation and, ultimately, the evolution of the feminine silhouette.
Lingerie dramatizes the natural appeal of soft, smooth, hairless feminine skin, says Givens. “It teases by alternately revealing and hiding the appeal of rounded feminine shapes of the calves, hips, breasts and shoulders.”
Lingerie has evolved from close-fitting, rigid Victorian corsets, which physically and painfully reinforced the hourglass figure, says Givens, to Victoria’s Secret-style lingerie, which idealizes the feminine form with softer, nonrestrictive, optical illusions.
He adds that today’s fashionable lingerie celebrates the “ballet” of love and courtship as art forms. “It cloaks the sheer physicality of the sex act itself with a gauzy veil of mystery, artistry and grace.”