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French lingerie shops launch cheeky protest against national lockdown

Lingerie retailers argue they provide an essential service and that if florists, bookshops, hairdressers and garden centres are allowed to open shop across France, so should they.

April 22, 2021 / 08:24 PM IST
Lingerie retailers have been sending lacy underwear to the French Prime Minister to mark their protest.

Lingerie retailers have been sending lacy underwear to the French Prime Minister to mark their protest.

Paris, France | AFP: Angry lingerie retailers in France have begun a protest movement to demand an exemption from lockdown rules by sending underwear to French Prime Minister Jean Castex.

Since the beginning of the week, lacy panties and thongs have been posted to Castex from around France with a note requesting that lingerie shops be able to re-open their doors.

Like other retailers judged to be "non-essential", underwear shops were forced to close at the beginning of the month as France entered its third national lockdown to contain rising Covid-19 cases.

The protest campaign is called "Action Culottee" - a play on words that translates as "cheeky action" - and has been coordinated by shop owners on Facebook.

"We wanted to raise the alarm about the very serious situation faced by hundreds of underwear shops around the whole of France," said a statement from the group. "We all have a very strong feeling of injustice," it added.


A rapidly filling map on the group's Facebook page shows location pins for the retailers who have taken part around the country.

"We chose a small thong, in orange. We wanted to be a bit cheeky with the colour," Vesna Savovic, a lingerie seller from Sens, southeast of Paris, told the local France Bleu radio station.

Other campaigners point out that underwear shops cater for all sorts of demands, not just for women wanting something luxurious or seductive.

"You can come to us for seduction but there are lots of other reasons," a shop owner in southeastern France, Sylvie, told France 3 television.

'We are essential'

"Women with large chests who can't find underwear without trying it on, women who need bras for breast-feeding, adolescents...," she added. "For us, it's obvious that we are essential."

The prime minister's office has been responsible for drawing up the list of essential shops which are allowed to stay open during the lockdown.

These include food and drink shops, but also florists, booksellers, hairdressers and garden centres, among others.

Twelve retailing federations published an open letter on Thursday demanding that all shops be allowed to open by May 10 at the earliest.

The government is in the process of drawing up its plans to reopen the country gradually.

French President Emmanuel Macron plans to stick to a goal of allowing restaurants to serve patrons outdoors from mid-May, while also reopening cinemas, theatres and museums with reduced capacity, a government source told AFP.

Daily cases in France have been topping 40,000 but the government expects them to fall to 20,000 because of the effects of the lockdown, which began on April 3.

© Agence France-Presse

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