Undercover economy

By Angelina Chapin | September 08, 2011

CB_lingerie Photo: Nadine Al Koudsi
Of the many moments in the movie Sex and the City 2 that might strike North American audiences as unrealistic, there is one in particular that stands out. While visiting Abu Dhabi, Carrie and the gang find themselves in the back room of a dried-flower shop staring at seven women wearing black niqabs. What appears to be the ultimate cultural stand-off—four sexually liberated New Yorkers facing women with all but their eyes covered—turns into a moment of cultural harmony as the Muslims disrobe, revealing their designer duds. As the Americans ooh and ahh over the latest Louis Vuitton, Carrie’s trademark voice-over chimes in: “And there, in a dried-flower shop, halfway across the world, underneath hundreds of years of tradition, was this year’s spring collection.” If you hadn’t walked out of the 2½ hour movie already, this might be the clincher: a seemingly overblown Hollywood moment that offends by simplifying a complex issue. But the truth is, the scene depicts the real attitude of certain Middle Eastern women, an attitude western businesses could profit from understanding. If the Muslim women depicted in Sex and the City had gone a step further with their strip show, North American audiences might have been shocked by the sight of lingerie as frilly and lacy as anything available on Fifth Avenue. Few have capitalized on this hidden market more than La Vie en Rose, the Montreal-based lingerie boutique. Continue reading...