If you wish to consider the political ramifications of French lingerie, look no further than the Ernst Lubitsch 1939 film Ninotchka starring Greta Garbo. This gentle send-up of post-Revolutionary Russia finds a Soviet trade delegation no match for the temptations of Paris. Ninotchka, a sober functionary, is sent from Moscow to straighten things out. She quickly succumbs herself--to love and lingerie.

We know that Ninotchka is losing the battle when her icy demeanor is broken by the jokes and pratfall of a handsome count. “Garbo Laughs!” The next indication is the purchase of a rather outrageous hat. The seduction is complete when the count introduces her to her first champagne. But we don’t see the full extent of her transformation until she reluctantly returns to Moscow.

In her shabby communal apartment, Ninotchka is transported back to Paris by something previously hidden: the most delicate lacy chemise. Her roommate has rescued the garment from the collective clothesline, where it was creating quite a stir. The two laugh at the thought of how subversive her underwear might be. But when her roommate teases Ninotchka about its pointlessness, she responds with a dreamy passion, “Oh, you feel it, though.” To the roommate’s delight, Ninotchka gives her the chemise. This little act of generosity beautifully conveys Ninotchka’s secret heart. She is not long for Moscow.

Which of Jane’s Vanity’s stunning French chemises would suit the Ninotchka in your soul?

-Kate L

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