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A Christmas Gift from Intimissimi
Posted by richard | December 9, 2011

Don’t you wish more fashion lingerie labels would do holiday-themed collections?

There are plenty of “sexy santa” outfits available through online retailers, but too often they look like leftovers from Hallowe’en. It’s rarer to find a collection that actually tries to make a fashion statement out of Christmas clichés.

The luxury Italian label Intimissimi is one that tries to do something new with Christmas each year, and they bring as much flirty style to the task as they do for all their collections. For 2011 they produced a small collection of luxurious, mostly red-and-white seasonal pieces like the ones shown here.

Alas, Intimissimi remains very difficult to find outside of continental Europe. If parent company Calzedonia really wanted to give women a Christmas present, they’d work on North American distribution a bit harder.

And it may be coming. Intimissimi will shortly launch an e-shop, which seems like a big deal to them even though the rest of the retail world has being doing the same thing for years. It will start with sales to customers in Italy, Austria and the UK only but — fingers crossed — it should be little trouble to expand the operation from there.

In the meantime, here’s a teaser commercial for the Christmas collection (below), featuring Intimissimi’s brand ambassador Irina Shayk. You might not be able to get your hands on this item yet, but at least you’ll get an idea of what Ronaldo will be unwrapping on Christmas morning.

You can also learn more about the collection, and sign up to be an early ‘member’ of the brand’s new online service by visiting Intimissimi’s Facebook page.

Black Tie Affairs: New Looks in Menswear-Inspired Lingerie
Posted by richard | December 7, 2011

Designers and stylists have been playing with gender-bending fashions for decades, but if there’s one niche where role-swapping is seriously tricky, it’s lingerie.

By definition, lingerie is meant to showcase the female form and arouse a partner’s passion. Throw too much male-centric styling into the mix and you might find yourself awakening some hidden desires that are best left undisturbed (for now, at least).

Lingerie that borrows style cues from men’s fashion has to walk a fine line between the masculine and the feminine. It should be playful, intriguing enough to invite curious inspection, and yet sufficiently erotic so as not to turn your romantic evening into a night of macho breast-beating and self-analysis.

If you can avoid that pitfall, then get ready for some fun: after all, whether it’s in the boardroom or the bedroom, men love games.

Want to try something adventurous? This season, a number of intimates labels have come up with some clever takes on menswear-inspired lingerie that play with conventions — in both fashion and gender roles — in surprising ways. Here are some of our favorites.

Blush
The elegant Canadian label Blush Lingerie deserves some kind of award for its ‘Private Affair‘ style range that mimics the kind of pinstripe power suit you’d expect to see on a hedge fund trader. The Venice lace provides a flirty and very feminine contrast to the buttoned-down boardroom vibe created by the slate-gray cotton and mesh main panels.

This range, from Blush’s AW2011-12 collection, comes in a bustier, a brief, a convertible bra and high-waisted panty. These images were shot by the California retro retailer Dollhouse Bettie, which adds some vintage appeal to the collection.

Marlies Dekkers
The winter collection from the always-inventive Dutch brand pays tribute to historic female role models who inspired the designer. Among the collection is this George Sand set, named after the 19th Century French novelist and romantic rebel who wrote under a male pseudonym.

Dekkers’ homage offers a collection of pinstriped undergarments with faint lavender trim, all while retaining the cut and style signatures for which the brand is known. Learn more here.

La Perla
The venerable Italian couture label experimented with some ambitious new style directions this year, as seen here in its provocative campaign photo (top) and the unique and unusual Smoking range (above).

The babydoll on the left is all business from the bustline up, thanks to its mens-suit-like collar and lapels, but all temptress below. And on the right is the daring Smoking bralette with tiny bow ties where one might expect cups on something called a “bralette”. Try this if you want to project a kind of cabaret cool.

Two Tuxedo Classics
Nothing makes a gender-bending fashion statement so quickly as tuxedo-inspired womenswear. And it works surprisingly well in lingerie, too.

The left image shows the Natalie range from Affinitas Intimates, which subtly evokes the penguin-suit look by combining sheer polka-dot lace with black piping. Available in an air-pad push-up bra, thong and boyshort.

On the right is further evidence of how a playful use of black and white can conjure up a tuxedo vision worthy of Marlene Dietrich. It’s from last winter’s collection from the cute French swim and lingerie label Bien Fee Pour Toi.

Frederick’s of Hollywood
No one has more fun playing around with menswear styling in conventional lingerie pieces than Frederick’s. That’s probably because Frederick’s understands this trend for what it is: costume play.

The iconic brand is targeting a more youthful, adventurous clientele these days, and one of its lures is a surprisingly large range of menswear-inspired pieces that use collars, lapels, vest fronts and other details to add a macho vibe.

The Satin Lapel corset with bow-tie detail (top right) looks prom-worthy, while the pinstriped Menswear Corset on the left will work in a club or while delivering a sales pitch.

But Frederick’s takes this trend beyond the expected clichés. That’s the Houndstooth corset (bottom right), which apes a menswear print staple, while the Exxtreme Cleavage mesh and satin ensemble on the left finds a new way to channel the tuxedo look. Frederick’s also offers its bestselling Dream corset in a sleek pinstripe, and also in a pinstriped halter.

Maison Close
Finally, the racy French label Maison Close — a leader in the less-is-more lingerie market — knows you don’t need to do much to start a little role-swapping game. Their Salon Bourbon silk bow tie makes an elegant and unmistakable statement all by itself …

A Sparkly Future for Pleasure State
Posted by richard | December 2, 2011

One of the most noteworthy developments in the lingerie landscape slipped quietly under the radar this summer when New Zealand’s Bendon announced it was throwing its lot in with Australia’s Pleasure State — or was it the other way around?

The ambitious competitors have been playing footsie (and poaching each other’s creative talent) for years, so the merger had an air of inevitability. It also creates a kind of fashion dream team, since it means that several of the world’s most admired labels — Pleasure State, Elle Macpherson Intimates, Stella McCartney — now share the same boardroom and bank account.

But what does it mean for consumers, many of whom will have personal loyalties to specific brands in the new Bendon stable? As the saying goes, it’s all good.

The new company, based in Sydney, will benefit from streamlined operations and economies of scale as it pursues a global distribution agenda to make Stella, Elle and PS even more prominent among retail brands worldwide. There’s also talk of new brands coming from the same team, which is something to look forward to.

Skeptics out there feared the Bendon merger would have the most impact on Pleasure State, the uncompromisingly artistic brand that made other designers worldwide swoon in envy. PS founder and creative head Kay Cohen also left this year, so there was good reason to wonder whether Pleasure State could retain its position at the pinnacle of international lingerie design.

But the brand’s Spring 2012 lookbook should put those fears to rest for now. It is, as always, a treasure of delights that will appeal to a broad range of tastes and suit many different types of women and occasions.

Pleasure State’s three fashion collections (Couture, White Label and VIP) are all taking on the new year with highly decorative, bejewelled designs that, according to the company, “showcase the art of embellishment”.

At the top of the must-have list is the Couture collection of high-art fashion masterpieces, which this season takes floral prints and embroidery in directions that will make you gasp. Every style range in the PS Couture set tries something new: whether its the bold illustration of the Floriage set (above), the crystal bead trim on the coral-hued Corsage range, or the exclusive Italian satin print with pearl accent in the Wisteria range.

You’ll find sparkly bits everywhere in this eye-popping collection, playing off against different embroidery treatments and complementary fabrics like Japanese leavers lace, Italian satin and European cotton mesh.

That theme of decorative ornamentation also runs through the new VIP collection for larger sizes. It’s offering an exotic palette of designs inspired by India, with style names like Sari (shown above) and Henna Tattoo. Look for details like crystal buckles, satin piping and Lurex highlights throughout.

Altogether different, but just as ornate, is the new PS White Label collection, a highly textural grouping influenced by intricate Rococo patterns and scrollwork. You’ll find original artwork and embroidery that mimics leaf patterns, marble and even wallpaper designs.

That’s the Ornate style in the main photo at the top of this article, but the collection’s highlight is the blue ‘Pegasus’ print in the Porcelain range (above): there’s a flying horse in there somewhere among the swirling leaf pattern.

Pleasure State has captured the imagination of so many lingerie lovers in recent years that it’s easy to forget it’s still a young label. Now in the company of Bendon’s other exceptional brands, we should expect great, great things from all of them in the years ahead.

Meantime, here’s a peek at some of the styles coming from this Aussie gem this spring:

Pleasure State Couture

Wild Rose
Bloom
Petal
Corsage

Pleasure State VIP

Polarise
Lustre
India
Henna Tattoo
India

Pleasure State White Label

Whimsical
Tapestry
Empire
Broderie
Chateau
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