Katharine Critchlow
September 24, 2008 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Secret Life of Syrian Lingerie

Current Status
In Season
Malu Halasa, Rana Salam
Nonfiction, Women's Studies

We gave it a B+

The most traditional Syrian women ?are shrouded in burkas when they shop in the souks, where they buy some of the most astonishing and beautiful underwear in the world. ? Journalist Malu Halasa and designer Rana Salam show Westerners the opulent bra-and-panty sets, which put red latex, plastic flowers, and toy cell phones in places where most women prefer breathable cotton. For some Middle Eastern wives, the over-the-top lingerie is a rare chance for sexual expression; ?for others, a desperate defense against straying husbands. Though the reporting fascinates, it’s The Secret Life of Syrian Lingerie‘s photos of spectacular skivvies that will spark ? debate on gender politics (and taste). B+

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