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The Lingerie Project: Naked Truths from Real, Real Women
Posted by richard | September 20, 2011

The most overdone trend in lingerie marketing is the use of “average women” to lend a veneer of everyday realism to a brand’s carefully packaged fantasies.

When done sensitively, these campaigns can give consumers a useful reference point. But they can also come across as exploitative: in almost all such cases the volunteer models aren’t paid, their “average” figures are given a Photoshop brush-up, and their personal stories must pass through the filter of the marketing agency that packaged the pitch.

The people behind these campaigns could learn a lot from Lorna Laurentino, a lingerie design student at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology who has created a remarkable archive of what real, real women think about — and look like in — their undies.

Lorna’s photo blog, The Lingerie Project, focuses on ordinary girls and women from all backgrounds and invites them to a) pose in their favorite intimates; and b) talk about love, sex, identity and fashion … and how all those subjects intersect. (TLP is one section of Lorna’s personal blog, lornalaurentino.com.)

So far there are about two dozen individual profile-portraits in The Lingerie Project, and Lorna says she will be starting the series up again with a new batch this fall. Each of the profiles includes several professional-quality (and un-airbrushed) photo portraits and often-lengthy interviews.

Here’s what she has to say about her project:

Having grown up in a family made up completely of women, I’ve always felt a strong connection with the female body and knew this was the creative medium I was made for.

The Lingerie Project is not only about lingerie, but also about the woman in her lingerie. I like to explore the idea of what is sexy through a somewhat feminist approach, by addressing issues concerning body image and women’s status in society. 

The project showcases the everyday woman with the strength to bare herself in her favorite undergarments. She takes the opportunity to have her voice heard on a public forum, discussing why the undergarments are her favorite, things that make her feel sexy, what makes her feel uncomfortable, her relationships with men, women, and society.  The images are never photoshopped in any way, because every curve and dimple about a woman is beautiful.

Lorna’s subjects in The Lingerie Project offer exceptionally candid confessions as they talk about past and current loves and how their self-image has evolved as their bodies change. They come across as fearless, articulate and very self-aware.

Lorna’s gallery skews toward younger women, but the range is broad and diverse: from virgins to the sexually adventurous; women in love and those wounded by love; gay, straight and every other color of the rainbow; Victoria’s Secret fans and luxury label fanatics.

Once you’ve read a few profiles, The Lingerie Project begins to feel like an anthropological study of contemporary women — there’s a lot of depth here.

In one truly fascinating profile — the only one in which the subject’s identity is concealed by a pseudonym — a woman poses in her favorite lacy underthings while describing in heart-wrenching detail how she found personal freedom after a double mastectomy.

For Lorna, lingerie becomes a lens through which women can see and understand themselves more clearly. And her subjects will never be more naked than they are when discussing their deepest feelings in their favorite intimate apparel.

Below, we’ve reprinted some individual images and brief snippets of what the women in the photos say about themselves. If you’re like me, though, you’ll want to keep checking The Lingerie Project to see the latest instalment.

This isn’t just a cool blog, it’s terrific journalism.

Giovanna
“I’m a princess. I get what I want and I do what I want. That sounds really bad, but it’s true. Say I want a girl; I figure out her little quirks and what she likes and I play off of that. I act like I’m the shit and I seduce them. Because that’s really what you have to do; act like you’re royalty.”

Jessica
“I always go back to the vintage thing. I love the idea of diving into your innermost personality; having another part of your personality under your clothes that you don’t always show to everyone.”

Hannah
“If a guy is checking you out on the subway or in the supermarket, there’s nothing wrong with dropping your number on his lap.”

Fatima
“I try and love all of me, but the things that I don’t necessarily love I work with. Sometimes I don’t like my stomach, so I go for the high waist panties and corsets… I wish I could go through life always wearing a corset.”

Amanda
“It’s usually a roller-coaster in my skin. You have good weeks and bad weeks. I try and do things to help my body. But I do it for me, not for anyone else. And that feels great to have that independence again. It’s liberating  to be beautiful only for myself again.”

Belinda
“I think the industry is lacking a good moderate priced intimate designer. If you want beautiful lingerie, you have to buy Kiki de Montparnasse or Agent Provocateur, and who can really spend that much on lingerie? Elle Macphearson has the right idea. Her lingerie isn’t cheap but you’re not only buying a name, you’re buying a design.”

Halima
“Women of status from 600-630 in the Middle East did not breast-feed their children. They always had a wet nurse, and the one to the man that would become the prophet, her name was Halima. Halima translates to the feminine of ‘dreamer’. I picked that pseudonym because the irony runs very thick within it for myself.  She was the woman that breast-fed the prophet. I have had a double mastectomy and will never have the ability to breast-feed.”

Lorna
“When I was little I thought breasts were so intriguing. When my sisters started developing I became so fascinated; I wanted to learn more about how they worked and what they were for. I would even ask if I could take showers with them, and I’d try to feel them up in the shower. I just wanted to understand them … but I never got them. I always wanted boobs, but I never got them.  It’s kind of a running joke in my family.”

Lora
“I’ve had people tell me the idea of sleeping around is creepy or disgusting, but I personally think it’s perfectly natural for humans to be together, regardless if you know them or not. That’s what the human body is made for.”

Chelsea
“I have been through so many trust issues with girls… I put so much into all of my friendships and I just always felt like I would get screwed over…but through it all I’ve met so many real people and I’ve realized that girls aren’t always like that. I’ve formed great relationships… and I’ve come to realize that there’s people that you keep in your life for a reason, and if they’re not gonna treat you right then they aren’t worth having in your life.”

Alex
“I’m really passionate about being comfortable with one’s sexuality. I happen to have been with men and women… Regarding my orientation, I like to answer to people lately that I am a ‘wonderful question mark of love’. I don’t like labels and I don’t see why I couldn’t be with either an amazing guy or girl.”

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One Response to “The Lingerie Project: Naked Truths from Real, Real Women”

  1. Genny says:

    What an amazing project!

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