The Secret Life of Syrian Lingerie: Intimacy and Design, by Malu Halasa and Rana Salam, is a collection of photos & essays about lingerie & Syrian culture:
Syrian lingerie is racy attire little-known in the west. Manufactured in Syria and exported throughout the Middle East, it blinks, sings, vibrates, and flashes lights, and is adorned with everything from faux fir to artificial flowers and feathered birds to colourful plastic toy cell phones. This sort of lingerie is well known and accepted in Syrian culture, and is openly displayed in the markets and souks – it forms an important part of the longstanding folk traditions around weddings and marriage. Brides-to-be are given it as gifts by their mothers, or buy it themselves; husbands buy it for wives. “The Secret Life of Syrian Lingerie” gathers together text and photo essays that introduce and celebrate some of the most outrageous undergarments in the world, and challenge our perceived notions of women, sex, and humour in the Muslim world.
According to Sally Bland at the Jordan Times:
Alluring undergarments are no secret in Syria. A fully covered woman lifting her face veil to peer at a revealing negligee is a common sight in the markets of Damascus. It is the context of this seemingly paradoxical sight that is little known except to Syrians themselves.
Playing on this and other paradoxes, journalist Malu Halasa and graphic designer Rana Salam have compiled a book of essays, photos, poetry and interviews that takes the reader on a journey into the secret life of Syrian lingerie to encounter those who design, sew, sell and buy these garments.
They began simply by visiting Souq Al Hamidiyeh and the surroundings old markets, taking photos and engaging customers and merchants in conversation. Eventually, they were invited into homes and design rooms where women and men shared their thoughts.
Peeking through the lens of lingerie, the book reveals a lot about Syrians’ everyday life, as well as their dreams, frustrations and sense of humour. The result will jolt a lot of preconceptions people have about Syria, particularly in the West.
Readers of A Slip Of A Girl likely will not be so surprised because I’ve covered lingerie in the Middle East quite a bit — and because, as Bland notes, “interviews with producers and buyers alike confirm that they see no inconsistency, since the sexy underwear is intended for married couples, and keeping things interesting at home should prevent men from wandering or taking a second wife.”
Some things borders, beliefs and culture do not change; we are all sexual beings & lingerie is a part of that.
Which is why I’m putting this book on my holiday wish list. *wink*