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Shell Belle’s Golden Age
Posted by richard | September 6, 2011

There is so much vintage styling in this season’s lingerie collections it’s hard to keep track of it all. Blink and you’re likely to miss some real beauties.

One of the newcomers in this retro revival is Shell Belle Couture, a small UK indie label that slipped quietly into the luxury lingerie market last year with a super-romantic debut collection for 2011 called Voyage.

Shell Belle immediately distinguished itself with memorable pieces like its sheer swiss-dot lingerie dress and a gorgeous photo campaign that seemed to have an underlying narrative filled with longing and desire. You might not have come across Shell Belle’s product line yet, but chances are you’ve seen those stirring images shot in Mauritius.

Now, Shell Belle is back with a SS2012 collection of lingerie and swimwear called Smoke and Mirrors that picks up where the opulent romanticism of its earlier set left off.

Designer/founder Michelle Blenkinsopp clearly has a passion for vintage lingerie, and her new collection aims to recreate the hedonistic aura of the Jazz Age. In fact, the campaign photos you see here were inspired by Boardwalk Empire and New York music halls and the flapper girls who frequented them.

You’ll find plenty of authentic (and decadent) style references, such as scalloped lace layers and even Art Deco jewelry accessories, which you can see in the bikini shot below. There’s a bespoke level of craftsmanship in the detail-rich patterns — make no mistake, these are heirloom-quality pieces meant to be admired and handled with care.

The entire collection is bathed in golden summery hues like champagne, sepia and crème brulée and includes extravagant items like the gold-printed beaded chiffon number above. There’s also an update on last season’s clever pleated “flirting shorts”, which you can see in the top photo in a lovely peony print.

Shell Belle is a bit of a curiosity in that it’s designed in Blenkinsopp’s Cornwall studio and then manufactured in Mauritius, where she once lived. And finding it can be a challenge: in the UK, look for Shell Belle on and (We’ll update this when we have more information on U.S.-based stockists).

For now, enjoy these breathtaking images from Shell Belle’s Smoke & Mirrors.

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