Over time, lingerie has helped to shape our society’s notion of beauty while, at the same time, telling us a lot about cultural issues and revealing our ideas of power, status and sexuality.

Lingerie fashion has a history of flipping between the painful and practical, to favoring boyishness or exuberant femininity. Bras were designed to flatten when the skinny flapper dresses of the 20’s required a deflated chest and in the 1500’s corsets caused women to faint in order to accentuate child-bearing attributes.

Lingerie has come a long way, now with a dizzying selection of undergarments that pad, tighten, contort, control or reveal the feature of choice. But there is always something beautiful about the mystery of what is hidden, and the lady who is classically covered. After decades of g-strings and push-ups we’re seeing the sensual, burlesque trend emerge and once again reconsidering our notion of beauty.

Above (clockwise from top left): Vanity Fair lingerie photographed by Mark Shaw // Picture via La Princesse Endormie // Elizabeth Taylor on the set of Giant wearing bustier No 2. Photo by Frank Worth, 1955, via Artnet // Burlesque star Dita von Teese // Corset by Horst P Horst, Paris 1939 — More about Horst P Horst here // Agent Provocateur Bridal Lingerie via Trendhunter.
Above (clockwise from top left): Greg Kadel photo via Frou Frou Fashionista // Vintage lingerie via Ruby Press // Corset via Comme des Fuck Down // Andres Sardá Spring/Summer 2010 Lingerie Lookbook via This is Glamorous // Corset by Ellen Von Unworth via Staley Wise Gallery // Dita von Teese via Flickr.
Above: Picture from Miss Unkon’s Spring/Summer lookbook via Art Pixie.