Frenchwomen ditch G-string for comfy pants

Men may find it the ultimate turn-on, but the G-string is on its way out in France, a study showed on Thursday. But unlike Bridget Jones, Frenchwomen are insisting on sexy replacements.

Frenchwomen ditch G-string for comfy pants

“Back in the 1990s, the G-string was the key lingerie item for French women, but it’s star has faded,” said Cecile Guerin, exhibition director for the International Lingerie Fair taking place in Paris next week.

But today only one in four French women – among the world’s top spenders on lingerie – own a G-string, down from 30 percent in 2008, according to a survey commissioned ahead of the fair.

While 45 percent of women still acknowledge that a G-string can be sexy, a quarter see it as “tacky.” Only one in five see it as fashionable and one in 10 as practical.

Sign of the changing times, there were hardly any G-strings among the slinky outfits on display ahead of the fair, intended as a snapshot of industry trends.

“You won’t find any in the women’s magazines either,” said Guerin.

For the bare truth, she said, is that most women’s bodies are “absolutely not” suited to the G-string. “It wedges up into your bottom, and does nothing at all for the figure.”

But the decline of the G-string doesn’t mean Frenchwomen have done a Bridget Jones, the fictional British diarist who eschewed her G-string for a pair of sturdy, stomach-restricting knickers. The modern Frenchwoman’s underwear is still required to be sexy, Guerin says.

In the past decade, Guerin says brands have come a long way with “products that offer the assets of the G-string – ie to be sexy, with no visible panty line – but that are still comfortable.”

“Today you have boxers and body-sculpting knickers that are invisible and seamless with lace and glitter. You feel completely fashionable – and you can still look yourself in the mirror.”

Amandine Calvas, head of marketing for Simone Perele’s glamour lingerie brand Implicite, said his firm has seen a “sharp fall in sales of G-strings.”

For long slim women, said Calvas, better to opt for a boxer short, which have become a “staple” even as the G-string’s appeal wanes.

More voluptuous types can go for tanga briefs – half way between a G-string and pair of high-cut panties – which flatter by elongating the silhouette.

So are the days of G-string numbered?

As more comfortable new styles trickle down to the retail chains, where most women still shop for their lingerie, Guerin predicts the G-string’s share of the market will crumble further.

And while men still give the G-string an overwhelming vote of confidence, with 54 percent saying it ticks the right boxes in the sexiness department.

“That is a question of education,” Guerin said. “They can be made to understand that other things are pretty too.”

“You can be sexy with a bit of humour thrown in,” said Calvas. “You can be sexy with transparencies, with colour, with peep holes, or simply with graphic lines that frame a square of skin.”


Paris exhibition celebrates 100 years of French Vogue

A new exhibition in Paris will tell the story of 100 years of French Vogue - from the post-war 'New Look' of Christian Dior through the sexual liberation of the 1960s to the dangling-cigarette waifs of the 2000s.

French Vogue celebrates 100 years
French Vogue celebrates 100 years. Photo: Thomas Olva/AFP

But as well as celebrating the magazine’s storied history, the exhibit comes at a time of turbulence for the publication.

Just last month, it was confirmed that its editor of 10 years, Emmanuelle Alt, was out and wouldn’t be replaced.

She was not alone.

Looking to cut costs, owner Conde Nast International has axed editors across Europe over the past year, and put international Vogue editions under the direct control of global editorial director, Anna Wintour, in New York.

New York-based Anna Wintour now has overall control of French Vogue. Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP

Like much of the media industry, Vogue is struggling with tumbling sales and ad revenue in the digital era.

But the latest twist is also part of the endless push and pull between New York and Paris going back to its early days.

“The whole history of French Vogue is one of back-and-forth with Conde Nast in New York – growing more independent for a while, then being reined back in,” said Sylvie Lecallier, curator of the new exhibition, “Vogue Paris 1920-2020″, which opened this weekend after a year’s delay due to the pandemic.

The Paris edition was often the loftier, more bohemian sibling to its more hard-nosed New York version.

But it was also the hotbed in which much of 20th century style and womenhood came to be defined.

“Paris was the place to hunt out talent and content and bring it to New York,” said Lecallier.

The exhibition charts the evolution from art deco drawings of the 1920s through the erotic image-making of photographers like Helmut Newton in the 1960s and 1970s.

Its last peak was under editor Carine Roitfeld in the 2000s, who brought back a provocative Gallic identity by ridding the newsroom of foreign staff and becoming a fashion icon in her own right.

Her successor, Alt, was a quieter presence, though she still oversaw key moments including its first transgender cover star, Brazilian Valentina Sampaio, in 2017.

But internet culture has created “a perfect storm” for Vogue, says media expert Douglas McCabe of Enders Analysis.

“The first 80 years of Vogue’s life, it had the market to itself, it was the bible for fashion,” McCabe told AFP.

“But online today, there are so many other ways to get your information. Influencers, Instagram, YouTube — everyone’s a threat.”

In a world where new fashion trends can blow up around the world in seconds, it has become much harder for a monthly magazine to set the pace.

“It’s not that they can’t survive for another 100 years — but they will be differently sized,” McCabe said.

Vogue has tried to branch out into different areas, including events.

“I used to work for a magazine, and today I work for a brand,” Alt said on the eve of French Vogue’s 1,000th issue in 2019.

But the big money was always in print, and Vogue Paris sales are dropping steadily from 98,345 in 2017 to 81,962 to 2020, according to data site ACPM.

It is perhaps unsurprising that the new top job in Paris, redefined as “head of editorial content”, went to Eugenie Trochu, who was key to building the magazine’s online presence.

She declared herself “thrilled to be part of Vogue’s international transformation”.

For the curator of the exhibition, it is ironic timing.

“We had no idea it would end like this when we started work on the exhibition,” said Lecallier.

“Who knows where it will go from here.”

The exhibition Vogue Paris 1920-2020 is at the Palais Galliera in Paris’ 16th arrondissement. The gallery is open 10am to 6pm Tuesday to Sunday and is closed on Mondays. Tickets for the exhibition are €14 (€12 for concessions and under 18s go free) and must be reserved online in advance.