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Women's underwear revealed at the "Secrets" exhibition

Back in their heyday, corsets literally took a woman's breath away. More than a century later, they're doing it again as beholders gasp at their exquisite beauty.

In a revealing new exhibition, the Textile Museum of St Gallen explores the history and significance of ladies' underwear.

"Secrets – the Lure of Lingerie" is the creative child of Parisian designer Chantal Thomass and Belgian scenographer Bob Verhelst. As guest curator, Thomass was in town on opening day to help with some final touches on the exhibit.

"It was a lot of fun and a lot of work, too!" said Thomass. In addition to having her own line, she has designed lingerie for Wolford, Kenzo and Victoria's Secret.

Spread over three floors, the exhibition covers the time period from 1890 to the present day. Embroidered corsets, delicate slips, silk chemises and ruffled bloomers grace the display cases, along with some no-nonsense girdles.

Brassieres and bustiers in all shapes and sizes are the stars of the show. Complete with sweat stains, a few items were clearly old favourites. In contrast, some pieces are so current that they aren't even in the shops yet.


"Secrets – the Lure of Lingerie" runs until December 30, 2008.

Open daily from 10am-5pm; check online for guided tour schedule.

During the EURO 08 football championships in June, a fashion show featuring men's underwear is planned for football "widows".

The Swiss film "Late Bloomers" (Die Herbstzeitlosen) provides a humorous take on underwear. It tells the story of an 80-year-old widow who opens a lingerie shop, much to the shock of her neighbours.

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