A recent book by London Arabs Rana Salam and Malu Halasa is opening the world’s eye to the kitch and wonderful world of Syrian lingerie. Ms. Salam told the BBC ‘The point of the book is to go beyond politics, to break stereotypes and celebrate Middle Eastern sexuality and pleasure. Call it kitsch, call it whatever you like, but I think this attire is superb, spontaneous, pure art’.
Alongside essays and interviews the book features a collection of images of underwear decorated with feathers, zips, sequins and most bizarrely mobile phones. The heritage of such kinky underwear comes from the tradition ‘for brides-to-be to be given a trousseau of exotic underwear - sometimes dozens of items - usually by girlfriends, aunties and cousins, to add spice to their wedding nights, honeymoons and beyond’.
To the west, viewing Islamic countries as viewed and covered, this overtly sexual element may come as a bit of a shock. However, within Islamic culture and, of course, a marriage, sex is there to be enjoyed. In fact the makers of these garments believe their job is an important public service, stating their ‘work is all about igniting the desires of a husband for his wife, so he doesn't go looking elsewhere. It's a good thing and there's nothing wrong it."