Our perceptions of what should be kept private have moved on considerably since Janet Reger, who died in 2005, first launched her range of sexy underwear to be worn in its own right, not hidden beneath clothing. For centuries, lingerie had been thought of as risqué, to be seen only by those on the most intimate terms with a woman. When it was spotted, peeping out, it always had a dramatic effect.
We’re not talking Liberty bodices or chemises here, either. This was the kind traditionally bought in Paris by men of the world – and almost always as a present for a mistress, rather than a wife.
Then along came the 1960s sexual revolution and, a decade later, Reger. In the 1970s, the prudery of the past and the licentiousness of the present clashed to sexy effect. Through modern eyes, Joan Collins, dressed in Reger lingerie in the 1978 film The Stud, may look rather naff.
At the time, however, her outfit was the height of eroticism. She was made up and coiffed as if she were about to go out – but she was intending to do no such thing. The confusion this created in the mind’s eye was what gave the image its frisson.
No such frisson exists now. These days, sexy lingerie is as everyday as other items of dress. Brands such as Agent Provocateur and Myla have thrust slinky smalls onto the high street. Thongs, bras and knickers are bought by women for themselves, as is some of the black lace and satin stuff. Not that many ladies mind the reassurance such saucy lingerie brings when it’s presented by a husband or a boyfriend.
Reger always understood that.
(First published April 2005)

Picture Source. Left to Right; Joan Collins on the front cover of pocket monthly pin-up magazine Span (no 102, 1962). Joan Collins, Front Review, March 1960. Joan Colllins in the Stud, 1978