You wouldn’t expect to find inspiration for lingerie design in the grim history of World War I and II, but that’s exactly where the new UK label Artemis South turned for inspiration for its debut collection, The Honey Trap. This may be the only lingerie label that includes images of barbed wire and Auschwitz in its moodboards — and, in fact, in its intriguing prints.
Artemis South, which launched earlier this month, is a nightwear and lingerie label created by Rae-Emily Smith, who began her career as an indie lingerie designer with the very colorful My Fair Lady brand last year.
Still just 21 and in her final year of Contour Fashion at De Montfort University, Rae-Emily clearly has her sights set on success. The Honey Trap is her final year collection for school and, presumably, a job waiting for her when she graduates this week.
It’s also a unique, high-concept collection that is intentionally both seductive and a bit disturbing.
The Honey Trap is inspired by tales of wartime espionage and, in particular, legendary female spies from the two great wars such as Mata Hari, Josephine Baker and Noor Inayat Khan. (The image below shows the label’s inspiration board featuring the three spies as well as the gates at Auschwitz.)
“Many spies were hired to seduce their target,” explains Rae-Emily, who named her new label after the daughter of Zeus. “This method was known as ‘the honey trap’. With this in mind, the collection has been designed to be seductive and colorful to represent the colorful lives of [these] women.”
But the history of wartime espionage is also filled with tales of betrayal and sacrifice, and Artemis South doesn’t try to evoke a glorified view of the precarious lives of female spies. “Spies who were caught often ended up in concentration camps or were killed,” she points out.
Thus, the dramatic prints used in The Honey Trap include such unexpected references as chains, stripes and barbed wire — “to give it a more sinister feel” — and even the gearworks from the famed Enigma encryption machine (above) used by the Allied spymasters.
It’s a bright collection that includes two bodies, a floor-length nightgown, a robe and foam-cup bras and briefs, all using a dramatic color palette of purple, green and blue — an erotic camouflage.
A conversation starter, a history lesson and a class project that’s sure to earn an A. Check out the new Artemis South website to see where The Honey Trap can take you.