Home / Lingerie and Literature: Lonely Hearts’ Stirring ‘Freedom’ Project
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The most evocative lingerie photo campaign we’ve seen this spring doesn’t come from a glossy lookbook or runway show or magazine editorial.

It’s the Freedom Project, an online photo and video exploration inspired by two apparently unrelated sources: the iconoclastic New Zealand clothing label Lonely Hearts and U.S. author Jonathan Franzen’s 2010 novel Freedom.

The images below are just a small part of the Freedom Project, which launched with an exhibition in Dunedin, NZ, last week but is intended to be a web-based series. You can find lots more at, the NZ online artists showcase that commissioned and art-directed the project.

The creative team behind the project were photographer Sara Orme and videographer Megan Christiansen. Writer Kat Patrick provides a companion essay here that attempts to trace the cultural and intellectual fragments that connect Franzen’s book and the photoshoot it inspired.

The real ‘stars’ of the shoot are the natural landscape of New Zealand’s verdant Coromandel peninsula, one of those last-great-unspoiled and bloody-hard-to-get-to corners of the world; and the manmade creations of Lonely Hearts, whose clothing and lingerie collections celebrate personal freedom and individual expression as authentically as any label we know.

How the three — undies, book and landscape — fit together is open to some interpretation.

Franzen’s celebrated novel explores the erosion of personal and political freedoms through the experiences of a disintegrating U.S family and their numerous internal and social battles. It’s a difficult book but a vital and timely subject; there’s a reason Oprah picked it.

The Freedom Project, on the other hand, takes a pair of young girls and tosses them onto a remote shore ringed by wilderness. At the risk of reducing the whole project to a book-jacket quip, it’s clear from this series that freedom is a private and intimate experience, best discovered outside of society, and a joyous thing when shared.

And the clothing? Here’s Kat Parker on the subject:

There is still a vintage, lacy, hand-stitched silver lining to the cloud. Take self-expression, for example. For the Western world it has certainly never been so simple. The disappearance of significant sub-culture is evidence alone that there is officially a trend for all. Without getting too philosophically French, how we choose to dress is bundled up in fundamental projection of self; letting the world know how we’d like to be judged. Sometimes it is freeing to let clothes do the talking. If that weren’t true, why did anyone bother inventing slogan tees?

The Freedom Project has the feel of a silent documentary, but one with a rich, if oblique, narrative. More installments are promised. If you are moved by it, by all means drop its creators a line to let them know. They’ll appreciate that.

The photos below are not in the same order as in the original exhibit, and there are many more there. To learn more about Lonely Hearts, look back at some of our earlier articles here.

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2 Responses to “Lingerie and Literature: Lonely Hearts’ Stirring ‘Freedom’ Project”

  1. Michelle says:

    Brilliant pics, makes a change from the usual bedroom shots (not that there is anything wrong woth them either) :)

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