Marlies Dekkers is having a helluva year, flush with creative side projects, an endless stream of celebrity nods and, most notably, a remarkable parade of new lingerie collections inspired by 1970s nostalgia.
The Dutch designer’s newest summer collection is called Electric Bilitis and, like her other 2011 lines, it’s meant to celebrate the independent, adventurous spirit that transformed women (and fashion) of the post-Woodstock generation.
For the record, this is Dekkers’ fourth collection of the year, following the Café Society and Hippie Trail lingerie lines and the Gypsettters swim line — all of them richly inspired by the politics, ideals and imagery of the 1970s.
Electric Bilitis continues that exploration — there’s even a range called Purple Beetle, inspired by those once-ubiquitous VW bugs — but with a notable, and interesting, difference. Among its other influences, this range pays homage to the sapphic-erotic imagery of iconic photographer and filmmaker David Hamilton.
Hamilton was a polarizing figure of the 1970s thanks to his fondness for soft-focus, soft-core imagery of very young girls in various states of sexual awakening and exploration. Highly erotic but never prurient, Hamilton’s work ventured where few photographers dared to go. He produced numerous photobooks and the legendary film Bilitis; to this day, his work has legions of admirers among art and erotica lovers, and just as many detractors among moralists and feminists.
The campaign imagery for Dekkers’ Electric BIlitis is a note-perfect copy of Hamilton’s style, and is meant to evoke the dream-like state of eternal innocence that Hamilton captured so perfectly. Dekkers’ promo film for the new collection will give you a sense of what that means. (Note: Some of the images below and on Dekkers’ site are, as you might imagine, NSFW.)
The new collection includes six new style ranges: the Hendrix-inspired Electric Ladyland, Purple Beetle, Wild Bouquet, Coming of Age, the bridal line Mrs. Jagger, and the sweet nightwear range Bilitis. The plum-colored Purple Beetle line already had a very public debut — Hailey Reinhart wore a Beetle bustier during her performance of Lady Gaga’s ‘You and I’ on American Idol last week.
As always, Dekkers’ newest collection doesn’t stray far from her signature multi-strap looks; what sets it apart from the rest of the MD catalogue is how that signature look is reinterpreted and reused to convey a vivid new set of impressions. The best example of this is the wonderful Wild Bouquet set, with its stunning poppy print based on the popular 1970s floral prints of designer Laura Ashley.
Altogether, Electric Bilitis is another admirable and memorable collection from a lingerie designer who consistently surprises us — and surpasses herself.
Finally, just when you think Marlies Dekkers is due for a break, she comes out with one more little bonbon … literally. The company announced this week it had produced a limited edition lingerie set (above) for Magnum, a Dutch ice cream maker. The cranberry-and-chocolate hued ensemble will be given to winners chosen in a Magnum promotion. You can learn more here.
Yes, undies to eat ice cream in! Now we’ve seen it all!