You might think that lingerie inspired by famous buildings would be cold and austere. But that’s not the case with Nichole de Carle, who takes inspirations like Westminster Abbey or the ceiling of the Louvre and creates unique, strappy lingerie that uses sharp architectural lines to accentuate a woman’s natural assets.
Modern, powerful and highly coveted, the U.K.-based luxury label has enjoyed an explosion of popularity that has seen it grow from its bespoke roots to a more widely available product line. And there’s plenty of new things coming as NDC expands its reach and builds its brand.
De Carle, who worked for Alexander McQueen, Donna Karan and Pleasure State before launching her own label in 2008, aims to distinguish NDC from other luxury names by positioning herself as a lifestyle brand and aligning herself with other high-end labels.
“We are constantly striving to project an entire way of living that is exciting and aspirational and most importantly appeals to our customers,” de Carle explains. “We do this through establishing strong luxury associations and collaborations with other companies and individuals with fresh and interesting approaches to life.” The designer cites the label’s recent collaboration with Gucci’s Aquariva (custom-built yacht!) and a glamorous Cannes campaign shoot as just two examples of this approach.
So who is the Nichole de Carle woman? Someone strong, confident and glamorous; someone who’s able to pull off daring lingerie looks; and also someone who appreciates quality craftsmanship and ethical considerations like the use of locally sourced materials. In fact, staying socially conscious is something that preoccupies de Carle as demand grows for her lingerie.
“It’s very important to me that we offer luxury with a conscience,” de Carle explains. “Our materials are sourced locally in the U.K. and this really underlines my own personal desire to build the brand in a sustainable way. Sourcing locally also allows me to really keep a strong control of standards and ensure the high quality that Nichole de Carle is synonymous with. Keeping up with the growing demand while avoiding the pitfalls of sweatshop-style labor conditions is imperative.”
For those who crave custom-tailored bespoke lingerie, Nichole de Carle delivers. If you’re in London they will even come to you for a fitting. Of course, de Carle’s new “ready to wear” collections are more accessible, although no less luxurious and unique.
Today, NDC lingerie can be purchased in North America on net-a-porter.com, which offers a small exclusive NDC collection, and at stores like Coco de Mer. For UK devotees, the label can be found at the luxury department store Selfridges as well as the NDC online shop.
Currently you can purchase pieces from Nichole de Carle’s Inamorata line, which showcases a new range of pieces four times a year — once they’ve sold out, they won’t be restocked. The line is a chance, as de Carle puts it, “to purchase something truly special and one of a kind.” Right now you can check out the limited edition Louvre collection (above), which de Carle describes as “dreamlike and whimsical [with] the colors of cotton candy and lilac.”
De Carle also offers the Onyx and Opal collections that are inspired by art and architecture.
The Onyx Last Testament balconette bra, like other de Carle products, is made of stretch silk and features underwire, a contrast lining and a split cut style. The Last Testament Body with Brief (top photo above) takes the design of the bra and turns it into a bodysuit complete with detachable briefs.
The Westminster Basque Bra is a multiway balconette with detachable straps and the Westminster Bodysuit with Brief is “inspired by Westminster Abbey’s high lines and vaulted ceilings.” Appropriate considering all eyes will be turned to Westminster when Kate weds Wills in April. The line also includes briefs with strappy braces and culottes (above).
Going forward de Carle hopes to satisfy demand for her products by having her brand more readily available to women all across the world. In the future look out for a new material (described as “luxurious and sensual”) to be added to the range as well as a new, rather hush-hush “honeymoon collection” slated for launch at the end of 2011.
“It’s going to be something so special,” de Carle says of the bride-centric new collection that’s in the works. “And that’s reflected by our partner which is an extremely renowned store. Unfortunately, I can’t disclose the name just yet but I’m very proud of this collaboration. I’m also already very excited about another one of our projects that can best be described as a wonderful winter wonderland for November 2011 — definitely one to look out for!”
A modern brand looking to connect with customers not only through their luxurious pieces, but also through their Facebook and Twitter pages, Nichole de Carle seeks to have an open dialogue with their clients. With so much growth and so many plans in the works de Carle maintains that she is constantly striving for the same thing, namely “creating something stunning and original that is now made available for more of us to feel fabulous in.” So far we’d say she’s succeeding.
Below are some of NDC’s recent campaign images; something to marvel at while we await her next creations!
We very recently gushed over Elle Macpherson Intimates’ newest products; we’re not done. No look at the line could be complete without special attention made to the spring/summer Obsidian collection.
There are eight monochromatic, sophisticated must-have pieces in this spring’s collection, created from luxury laces and silks. A hint of Elle’s favorite color, Tibetan blue, makes a special appearance on each item.
The supermodel-turned-creative-director speaks of her inspiration for the line, which was first introduced about a year ago:
“Obsidian is raw and sexy with a sophisticated edge. My intention with the design was to encompass sophistication, style, fashion-forward design with an intense desirability.
The name Obsidian comes from the naturally occurring volcanic glass formed as rock which I found on a recent holiday with friends. It has all the passion and life force of primordial raw energy and seemed a perfect inspiration for this new collection.”
Check out these gems from the spring/summer 2011 collection:
The Frances is sure to be a new favorite. The two-tone French Leavers lace, the demure green ivy shade, and the vintage-inspired shape with a comfortable waistband: what’s not to love?
The Jennifer is textbook Elle. The blush and black lingerie is flattering, dramatic, and glamorous with jewel motifs.
The Eleanor is not for the faint of heart. The sexy sheer number leaves little to the imagination, with its embroidered print strategically positioned on the silk satin set.
The stretch-lace Bea is perfect for everyday wear. Ditch the boring bras and opt for something a little sexier.
The Lizzie’s embroidered lace is so pretty you’ll actually want it to peek out from under your shirt. The Luna’s floral design is a lesson in sensual subtlety. The Nancy, in bamboo cotton and stretch lace is the ultimate in comfort. And the Lillian makes a bold statement with geometric lace; the bodysuit is perfect for fashion-forward lingerie collectors.
The Obsidian collection fits women who wear sizes 32A to 36DD and is available worldwide. Rumor has it that the stock is moving quickly, so don’t hesitate to indulge!
Some random images, and even more random thoughts, from this week’s CurveExpo lingerie show in New York:
Now, on to the photo gallery!
Talk about an interesting coincidence: While lingerie retailers and brands came together in New York this week to show off their goods, Lady Gaga was doing pretty much the same thing during a two-night stand at Madison Square Garden a couple of blocks away.
A few people at the CurveExpo lingerie show would love to dress Gaga; but everyone is hoping that a little of the pop queen’s midas touch — and bare-all exhibitionism — rubs off on their industry this year.
Rebounding from the recession was a common theme at the semiannual trade show that drew more than 2,000 retail buyers to view next fall’s product lines from hundreds of competing labels. Admittedly, the intimates industry has fared better than most through two years of worldwide economic misery, but the brand reps staffing booths at CurveExpo this week were nervously counting crowds and tallying up sales orders.
“The crisis is over,” announced Mayouri Sengchanh of the Carlin Group forecasting agency. “It is time to be sexy again. It’s allowed.”
That declaration, made during a seminar on the morning of the show’s first day, sounded a bit premature and a bit too ‘Mission Accomplished’ to be entirely convincing. But by the show’s end on Wednesday, many exhibitors were breathing easier.
CurveExpo veteran Kristian Giambi of Brulee Lingerie said the New York exhibition was “one of my best shows ever.” That sentiment was echoed by Laura Mehlinger of Lola Haze, whose fashion-forward slips and chemises were singled out in Monday’s trends report. She called the 2011 show (her fourth as an exhibitor) “fantastic”.
CurveExpo, which is held next door to the Fashion Coterie apparel exhibition, is the only place you can walk around in your underwear in New York City in February and not look out of place — or catch pneumonia. Crowds were brisk on opening day, which this year was timed to coincide with the President’s Day holiday, and many booths — such as Cosabella, Hanky Panky, Josie Natori, Samantha Chang, Marlies Dekkers and Christine Vancouver — enjoyed an almost-constant parade of buyers looking to place orders.
The show is held twice a year in both New York and Las Vegas, not just to bring buyers and sellers together but also to showcase the breadth and depth of the industry.
This year’s event included lots of sleepwear and loungewear brands, petites labels and plus-sized specialty lines, indie up-and-comers next to international brand names, and even a few surprises — like hip underwear label Pull-In‘s cartoon prints and activewear brand Pure Lime‘s sports bra with built-in heart monitor.
But North American labels hoping to make gains in the luxury lingerie market couldn’t help but look nervously to the back of the exhibition hall, where more than a dozen industry-leading French brands — Empreinte, Huit, Aubade, Chantelle and more — entertained buyers under the collective marketing umbrella known as Lingerie Française. Based on this very impressive display alone, it’s clear that the European heavyweights won’t give up market share without a fight.
Now back to that opening boast: is the crisis, in fact, over? The answer seemed to be, it depends on what you’re selling … and to whom.
“Consumers are buying more things that are interchangeable. That way they get their money’s worth,” said L.A.-based loungewear/lingerie designer Wendy Glez, who last year agreed to do a private label collection for a major department store in order to avoid staff cutbacks. “You have to sell to every market,” she added. “You know the saying, ‘sell to the masses, eat with the rich’.”
At San Francisco label Mary Green, vice-president Liliana Varbanovo said independent brands have had to work harder in all areas to retain customers through the recession. “The worst is over, but things are still not peachy. We still have to work hard,” she said.
“Thankfully, everybody still has to wear panties.”
Not everyone, however, left this week’s CurveExpo with renewed optimism. Ana Jordão, whose Portuguese activewear brand StressOut was making its first attempt to reach U.S. retail buyers, said their collection had attracted little interest — perhaps lost in a room filled with sleek silk kimonos and lace underthings.
“This is maybe not the right show for us,” she said.
Biatta Intimates is a favorite among budget-conscious lingerie lovers. For years, they’ve provided us with some of the loveliest quality items in our underwear drawers.
It is no surprise, then, that we’re already obsessed with Bella Noire, Biatta’s soon-to-be-released line of vintage-inspired line of glamorous underthings.
Amy Berliner, COO of Biatta, says of Bella Noire:
“We have been developing this line for some time and really took our time creating something and special. We saw an opportunity to open more boutique business as well as enter some better department stores. This new collection also provides a perfect platform to continue our global expansion as we can offer a different product and price point to our current and potential international customers.”
The affordable luxury line is set to hit stores this fall. Expect a touch of glam punk in this vintage-meets-modern collection. Super-soft silk, cotton and modal fabrics in neutral muted shades comprise the feminine bras, rompers, baby dolls, bottoms, kimonos, wraps, bralettes and boleros. Ranging in price from $35 to $120, each piece is guilt-free-splurge-worthy.
There’s something for every woman in the Bella Noire collection. A snug paneled baby doll might best suit the vixen, while a loose floral kimono will appeal to the hopeless romantics. A sexy, effortless take on the boy short will sure to be a must-have in loungewear, while high-waisted panties are the perfect modern take on pin-up style.
Lace detailing, scalloped edges and a strategic combination of structure and effortless comfort make for an unforgettable collection launch. Find these flirty and affordable quality pieces from Bella Noire in department stores everywhere this fall. Full-on luxury that’s recession-friendly is worth investigating.