Photo: Mise en Cage
It’s a bit kitschy, a little trashy and completely impractical. It was also the most fun you could have in your undies all year.
That’s assuming, of course, that you were lucky enough to pick up one of Made By Niki‘s String bodysuits or anything else from this slinky, slippery, fringe-based collection of bodywear pieces.
Niki McMorrough’s String series, which debuted in late spring, has been selling out in boutiques around the world and turned the smart, fashionable UK indie label into an international phenomenon overnight.
For these reasons and more, we’ve chosen Niki’s String collection as the most memorable lingerie look of 2011.
And we’re not alone in thinking so. The String body was immediately pounced upon by celebrities and fashion photographers this year but — unlike some other over-the-top fashions — it also worked its way into average women’s wardrobes as a splurge item for special occasions and boudoir game-playing.
A couple of things make the String work so well.
First, it’s a completely original look — but with some familiar echoes. Some people see a 1920s-era Flapper reference, others see it as stripper gear. It can create an instant glam-rocker look or, in the right setting, a vintage Middle Eastern vibe (try this at your next belly dancing class!) And some people think it’s swimwear.
Like all of Niki’s work it clings to the body and accentuates natural curves but, more important, all that fringe tingles on bare skin. And, thanks to the use of quick-release clips, it’s surprisingly easy to get into.
Finally, the String isn’t nearly as immodest as it might appear from a distance. There’s a nude liner on most pieces and a variety of matching undergarments that let you create looks that are only as daring as you want to be.
To mark this occasion, Lingerie Talk spoke to Niki (above, with husband/partner Scott) about the String collection and her future plans. You can also see campaign images from the collection here.
Lingerie Talk: Did the success of the String collection catch you by surprise?
Niki: Yes it did. The collection was borne from a collaboration with KT Tunstall and my own playful experimentation with the fabrics. Here at Made by Niki, we all thought the initial prototypes were really cool, but rather unusual, and we weren’t sure if they would be a commercial hit, so we initially only showed buyers ‘for fun’.
How has the response to the String impacted your manufacturing and distribution operations?
One of the biggest highlights of the String collection’s success is that the range is hand-sewn in our Leicestershire countryside studio by 3 talented seamstresses. Whilst demand has meant that we have been crazily busy, it also brings a personal touch to the collection, making it even more special and rewarding to see customers’ feedback and the amazing sales growth.
It is so important for me and Made by Niki to ensure that customers are always provided with something fresh and unique and therefore we also work with one of the UK’s special small lingerie factories as well as creating a seasonal offshore line (Knockout, Feel, Atomic III), working closely with one of the world’s most prestigious manufacturers. It is so important for us to continue to consolidate on these existing relationships and I hope that this shines through in the final product!
Is there a ‘typical’ customer who goes for the String collection instead of more modest lingerie styles?
Not really. The String collection appeals to all kinds of women who love lingerie, fashion, style and culture. It’s very flattering and easy to wear, and definitely has ‘underwear as outerwear’ appeal. It looks equally hot on the beach, in the boudoir or at the club. It has been popular in the UK, USA, Europe, Middle East and Australia.
Customers are using the String pieces in a variety of different ensemble looks and for a variety of occasions. What are some examples you’ve heard about how women are using the String line?
Our customers are constantly telling us about where they wear their String pieces. One customer wears hers at work (in a city trading office!), others at the beach or on holiday, as casual daywear (eg under jeans) or dressed-up evening wear. And it certainly has bedroom appeal because of its stunning looks and the tingling sensation it gives to the wearer.
What celebrity would you like to see in Made By Niki?
Wow – there are so many celebrities who I would love to see in Made by Niki. Recently Naomi Campbell was shot for SOON magazine in the black String body and she looked incredible. Other fans of the brand continue to be Kelly Brook and Daisy Lowe, which is great as both are gorgeous girls with amazing figures and remain their curves! Maybe Rosie Huntington-Whitely or Miranda Kerr? 2011 saw us build relationships with stars such as Lady Gaga and Rihanna so who knows who will be the next celebrity spotted in my creations!
Will the String collection become part of your ongoing catalog? And will it influence future designs from MBN?
Well the String collection originally came about because of my working relationship with KT Tunstall when I designed a series of customised trousers for her tour. I then extended the range and officially launched the debut String collection for AW11. The success of the range has been astounding, especially at Selfridges and ASOS where the Black String Body was an instant sellout. There was so much demand for repeats, but we were determined to keep it fresh and moving forward, so we really had no choice but to design new interpretations for SS12.
The range sold out everywhere so quickly that we had to bring our SS12 launch forward by 3 months to meet demand. The thing is, I love working with this fabric so much, that there is always something new to try out. I cannot wait to show you the new range of String Bras, Knickers and Bodies for AW12.
What does the success of the String line tell you about what women really want, like, feel and yearn for?
Women are definitely getting more adventurous with their lingerie and now see underwear as an essential part of their outfit rather than being buried underneath layers of clothing. The great thing about the String collection is that it has been designed for people to see and truly embraces the trend of underwear as outerwear. A woman wearing it instantly feels confident and sexy which then translates in to their aura and personality – this kind of confidence cannot be truly bought.
What’s next for Made By Niki?
SS12 sees the launch of the Atomic range from Made by Niki which is the culmination of 5 years of constant exploration in to an ever expanding universe of unique lingerie and bodywear. I have continued my quest to find exciting new ways to smooth and slim the body and this starry range is sure to delight!
Obviously we are currently hard at work on our AW12 range entitled ‘Inheritance’ which comes in 3 groups, each inspired by a different aspect of genetic inheritance and human biology. It ranges from thermal base layers called ‘Nucleus’ to burlesque showpieces named ‘Molecules’ and beautifully delicate mille-feuille lingerie creations entitled ‘Membranes’.
Photo Credits (from top): Mise en Cage; Lutterworth Mail; Le Rouge Boutique, Cumbria.