The History of ’70s Boudoir

Boudoir first existed as a beautiful movement — a time in history — when women began to celebrate and document their femininity and sensuality through private photographs. Here is a peek into the history of 1970s boudoir, the inspiration for our latest Intimately E-book.

In order to start talking about boudoir of the 1970s, we must first start at the beginning. Boudoir is a French word meaning “private sitting room, or bedroom.” It is also a genre of photography used to capture sensual and private moments of undress. Some of the earliest “boudoir style” images began in the 1920s by artist, Albert Arthur Allen, when provocative photos of women were unthinkable and essentially illegal. However, artists of the ’20s and ’30s (mostly including photographers, models and actresses like Mae West and Jean Harlow) continued to push boundaries and create beautiful romantic works of art. The images of this era usually demonstrated curvy women in lingerie, posing in opulent and elegantly decorated bedrooms.

The 1940s and ’50s brought a bit of glam to the boudoir scene with the introduction of the “pin-up girl.” These decades highlighted curvaceous and flirty women, a la Marilyn Monroe and Ava Gardner. Corsets and stockings were prevalent and photo props were introduced.

…which now finally leads us to the 1970s, when boudoir evolved yet again. There was a large cultural and political shift in the ’60s and ’70s, and it’s no surprise that art and fashion followed suit. By this time, photography was a permanent fixture in the art world and boudoir-style photographs were becoming more widely acceptable. With the hippie movement in full swing, women were feeling more liberated than ever and started to bare more skin. Boudoir had a sense of effortless yet glamorous ease, and often included women without bras or sometimes even underwear. It was, after all, the year of love. Boudoir photos were being increasingly featured in advertisements and fashion magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. Keep scrolling to see a few vintage boudoir photographs from the 1970s, and scroll further to see our inspired interpretation of that decadent age.

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Uschi Obermaier by Jeanloup-Sieff for Vogue Italia, 1972.

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Cathee Dahmen by Peter Knapp for Vogue, June 1971

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Lisa Taylor by Helmut Newton for Vogue Paris, April 1977.  “Les maisons hantées de Hollywood”

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Get the look: Simply and Short Velvet Slip

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Get the look: Sweetheart Top, Medallion Boyshort

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Get the look: Morning Dove Undie

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Get the look: Get Off My Cloud Underwire Bra

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Get the look: Venus High Neck Underwire Bra, Venus String Bikini

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Get the look: Dark Blooms Underwire BraDark Blooms Hi-Rise Undie

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Get the look: Love Letters Convertible Bra, Cotton Tanga, Sleeping In Shirt

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Photographs by Harper Smith. Modeled by Anja Konstantinova. Hair by Luke Chamberlain. Makeup by Kali Kennedy. House location by Merchant.

Shop the new Intimates E-book, Wild Heart, here!

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