The History of Boudoir: Overview

Hi Lovelies,

While preparing for our blog post this week, I became absolutely fascinated by the history of boudoir photography. So fascinated that I knew I had to share it with you! This week is simply a brief overview of a very long history. In the upcoming weeks, we will be walking through each decade of boudoir in more detail to give you a glimpse at why boudoir is such an important art form.

The word “boudoir” is French in origin and is derived from the French verb bouder to sulk, and originally was a room for sulking in or to withdraw to. It commonly refers to a woman’s private room or bedroom. The Marquis de Sade, a French aristocrat known for his libertine sexuality, developed a reputation for “le boudoir” based on the immoral exchanges and frolics that happened within. From that point forward, the boudoir was considered somewhat scandalous.

In the early 1920’s, boudoir photography was considered disgraceful in nature and it was actually made illegal to take or possess nude or risqué images during the prohibition era. It became more commonly accepted in the 40’s when pin-up girls were used as propaganda to get men to join the military during WWII. We then saw the great sex symbols of the 50’s and 60’s, Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, and the like take boudoir to a new level: using the female form as a source of empowerment for women. The 70’s and 80’s celebrated feminism at its height with the free-flowing imagery of Bridgette Bardot and then with glam shots, à la Christie Brinkley on the cover of Sports Illustrated. It was during that time that “glam shots” were made available to the public as the photography industry swelled with the introduction of the first consumer digital cameras. The popularity among the public has grown ever since then, becoming a common gift for a significant other or as an act of empowerment for women.

As we move through each decade in more detail, we will be highlighting influential photographers and women who have altered the course of boudoir photography, paving the way for modern day boudoir. There is a rich history behind these sexy photographs and I’m so excited to share with you how boudoir became what it is today. Make sure to subscribe to our posts so you don’t miss this exciting journey through almost 100 years of boudoir!

Kori K.  

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