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La Perla Reinvents The ’60s
Posted by richard | March 29, 2012

There have been countless Mad Men-inspired collections and marketing tie-ins from fashion lingerie labels in the past couple of years. But one name was conspicuously missing in the giddy rush to revisit the 1960s: La Perla.

A bit late to the party, perhaps, but the Italian superbrand’s entrance was worth waiting for. It’s gasp-inducing gorgeous, utterly original and offers a thoughtful evaluation of what style signatures from the 1960s were really worth reclaiming.

It’s not even remotely nostalgic, but it’ll make women who lived through those times wish they could have looked this good back then.

La Perla‘s take on ’60s glamour is more Holly Golightly than Joan Holloway. There are no stiff foundation pieces here, just plenty of soft silhouettes that evoke the sleek, effortless elegance of Jackie O and other high society icons.

The new style ranges are grouped under the name A Sixties Flair, and the collection is showcased in its own dedicated website.

But La Perla is careful not to call this a vintage collection. In the same way that last year’s Roaring Twenties collection offered La Perla‘s thoroughly modern re-interpretation of Jazz Age style, A Sixties Flair uses ’60s style only as a starting point.

Example: the early ’60s was the era of the stylish, semi-sheer negligée — but wait till you see what La Perla does with that. Their Belle De Jour nightgown (main photo above) takes a sheer tulle nightie, dresses it up with La Perla‘s heritage soutache embroidered neckline and a plumetis raised-dot pattern, THEN adds a Leavers lace bodysuit and satin bandeau underneath. It’s a masterpiece of conception, design and craftsmanship.

La Perla sees the ’60s as a stylistically complex and contradictory period, an era that warrants much more than just a line of bullet bras and high-waisted briefs.

Thus, A Sixties Flair includes references to New Wave cinema with style ranges like Belle De Jour and Blow-Up — not exactly the bubbliest screen gems from the period! But there’s also a kittenish Lolita set and plenty of very subtle floral lace — including a daisy macramé pattern — that recalls the later, golden age of flower power.

And, although La Perla is best known for its classic black finery, this time the color palette is filled with airy pastel hues like peach, mimosa, aqua and a bold yellow. It’s all meant to convey the period’s playful, nonchalant approach to fashion — something we could certainly benefit from in this century.

Have a look at some of the images below from the brilliant A Sixties Flair photoshoot from photographer Mary Rozzi and art director Michela Borgatti, who have placed model Jeisa Chiminazzo in some very Mad Men-esque environments.

Just remember, it’s all an illusion: the ’60s never looked this good, and its underfashions weren’t even close to what La Perla has achieved.

Posted in La Perla
Sticky Fingers Not Included
Posted by richard | March 28, 2012

Is Easter an appropriate occasion for lingerie gift-giving?

The answer probably depends on who’s giving, who’s receiving and whether your libertine tendencies are more Gingrich than Santorum.

Personally, I think there’s no wrong occasion for sexy presents, although in the name of decency you probably shouldn’t swap intimate Easter gifts until after services on Sunday morning.

One of the coolest in a growing number of Easter-themed lingerie promotions that has crossed our desk recently is the “Bunny Boudoir” online egg hunt dreamed up by London’s Lingerie Collective.

The retail co-operative of independent designer labels came up with the clever idea of combining two guilty pleasures — chocolate and silk lingerie — to create both a gift item and a fun contest.

Renowned chocolatier Paul Young was brought in to create giant chocolate eggs which contain a pair of silk briefs and eye mask from Lingerie Collective member label MC Lounge — sort of an adult version of those Kinder Surprise eggs you buy for the kids.

To enter the contest to win the set, visit the Lingerie Collective website and see if you can find 10 eggs that are hidden among its pages. Send your answers to info@thelingeriecollective.com.

If you don’t want to leave it to chance, you can also buy one of the luxury egg sets containing either a pair of knickers, knickers and blindfold, or a luxury MC Lounge robe.

Of course, if I recall correctly, when we got those Kinder eggs as children we usually tossed the hidden toy aside and just gorged on the chocolate. With the Boudoir Bunny egg, don’t be surprised if exactly the opposite happens.

How To Make Carson Kressley Blush!
Posted by richard | March 28, 2012

I know it sounds impossible, but if ANYthing can make Carson Kressley blush it might be spending a few hours surrounded by lingerie while women tell him their most embarrassing secrets.

How much fun does that sound?!

And the best part? Winners chosen by Carson in the “What Makes You Blush?” contest will get gift packs from the Spring 2012 collection of lingerie label Blush (above).

The Emmy-winning Queer Eye guy and all-round style guru will be on hand Thursday from 5-7 p.m. to help Blush unveil their new boutique space in the intimates department of Bloomingdale’s Soho store in New York. He’ll be offering visitors tips on “how to power up your wardrobe with lingerie” and how to find the right fit.

To mark their debut at Bloomies, Blush will also be giving away copies of the new book Second Skin: The Erotic Art of Lingerie (which we reviewed here) with purchases of $100 or more while supplies last. (This is a phenomenal deal, since the book — which features a photo of Blush Lingerie on the cover — is a collector’s item that retails for nearly that much!)

But the highlight will be Carson’s selection of winners in Blush’s “What Makes You Blush?” contest — which sounds like it could easily be a theme for his next reality show.

Anyone can enter the contest by submitting their most blush-worthy stories to contests@blushlingerie.com or by simply tweeting their entry to @blushsocial. You can learn more about the contest and the event at Blush’s Facebook page.

Posted in Blush

I’ve been walking around all morning humming ‘Zou Bisou Bisou‘ while doing chores. So why do I feel so … guilty?

You know the song: it was Jessica Paré‘s big star-making moment on Mad Men‘s season premiere on Sunday, the musical gift she sang for her cranky new hubby Don Draper at his surprise birthday party.

For reasons that will probably never be understood, that song and that moment have rocketed to the center of the cultural zeitgeist in the past two days or, as they say in the Twitterverse, it’s trending.

But it wasn’t that infectious bubblegum ditty that really got me thinking. It was what followed: Don arriving home the next day to find a ticked-off Megan cleaning up after the party in her underwear. And not just any old things, either; we’re talking date-night black lace, probably leftover from the night before.

Cue the jungle drums as macho Don pulls his pouting bride onto the carpet and, with his best you-know-you-want-it growl, patches up his marriage in the usual way while Megan resists unconvincingly and unsuccessfully. Housework, lingerie and angry sex: now that‘s a recipe for marital bliss.

My, my. As it so often does, Mad Men has hit several psychic bulls-eyes in one throw, exposing not just a cultural anachronism but an enduring (and somewhat indefensible) guilty pleasure.

What is it about the sight of a woman doing chores in her underwear that brings out the beast in men? For that matter, what is it about doing housework in your skivvies that is so defiantly satisfying for some women?

It’s easy to dismiss both questions by saying that was the 1960s; we’ve come a long way since then, baby. But I don’t think so.

The image of a woman doing chores while half-dressed is a kind of visual cliché that’s still popular in lingerie adverts, pinup calendars and magazine photoshoots today. And, not surprisingly, most show women ironing or vacuuming which, apparently, are the sexy chores. You won’t find many images of a hottie scrubbing a toilet.

You don’t have to be a gender studies major to see it’s purely sexist stereotyping, but in this classic scenario both sexes are equally complicit, regardless of how much we’ve all evolved since Mad Men times. The housework-lingerie equation seems to bring out the neanderthal in all of us.

Don’t believe me? Go ahead, try this at home: put on your best La Perla finery, grab a mop and see what happens!

I dug through the archives and came up with the gallery below to show some examples of how the housewife-in-underwear template continues to resonate in the public imagination. This should get you both in the mood!

The Aussie lingerie label produced this memorable photo campaign in 2010.
From the award-winning sexy-housework film Chore by the UK luxury label.
The bombshell model-actress has done a number of housework-themed shoots.
The High School Musical star in a pitch for teen undies brand Candies.
Teri Hatcher (above) ran a lingerie housecleaning business called Va-Va-Broom.
8-page lingerie spread by Malina Corpadean in the Feb. 2012 issue.
Kastyn Reid in a Pamela Hanson shoot from April 2009.

If the images above seem completely ordinary to you, then Chrysalis Lingerie has done its job.

The first collection from this new NYC label represents something of a breakthrough in alternative fashions: the perfectly-named Chrysalis is the first lingerie line designed for, and by, transgender women.

For the estimated one million American adults who identify as transgender, this is no small milestone.

“A lot of women have been waiting a long time for something like this,” Chrysalis co-founder Cy Lauz told Lingerie Talk.

“Speaking from personal experience, I found no products that specifically cater to transgender women. There are some things for cross-dressers and drag queens, but they’re all sexually exploitative.

“I wanted a product that actually celebrated who we are, something that made us feel beautiful but is also practical.”

Now, for the curious, let’s get to the big question: What exactly distinguishes lingerie for the TG market?

Chrysalis will launch this spring with a basics collection of bra-and-panty ensembles in five colors. The power-mesh panty is designed to create a seamless look by using a special panel that “tucks us in,” Cy said, while the bra comes with hidden pockets that hold full-cup inserts to create the appearance of a natural bustline.

The result is a product line versatile enough to work with different body shapes and still achieve traditionally feminine lines. (The models used in Chrysalis‘ promotional photos are all TG women.)

The brand is also planning a couture collection that will use its technical innovations in teddies, shapewear, lingerie and even swimwear.

Various studies estimate up to 6% of the adult population identifies as transgender — people who experience some degree of dysphoria related to their birth gender, and who frequently choose to live as a member of the opposite sex. About two-thirds are male-to-female transgenders, which is the audience that Chrysalis was designed for.

Only a small percentage of transgender women are pursuing sex reassignment surgery or hormone therapy that can help them develop natural female curves. As a result, finding appropriate undergarments can be a challenge, and shopping for underwear in women’s stores also presents obvious difficulties.

Chrysalis answers a lot of problems and questions for transgender women regarding their underwear,” Cy said. “It gives them peace of mind. You don’t have to think about it anymore.”

Chrysalis Lingerie is the brainchild of Cy, an interior designer and fashion stylist, and partner Simone Tobias, the creative director of a menswear brand. The company got its first public exposure last fall when it was featured in the Style Network documentary, ‘Born Male, Living Female‘.

For its founders, though, Chrysalis is about a lot more than fashion: it’s about the politics of acceptance for a misunderstood and maligned community.

Chrysalis wants to change how transgender people are viewed,” Cy said. “We want to make people look at transgender people as human beings.

“We’re done hiding. We’re done keeping quiet. We are a very diverse community, we do exist, and we have explicit needs.”

Although 16 U.S. states have enacted non-discrimination laws that specifically protect transgender people, the TG community still faces widespread discrimination, marginalization and even violence. It is also one of most widely misunderstood groups in society, burdened by stereotypes of flamboyant drag queens and viewed as a kind of sexual deviance. Gender identity disorder is still listed as a mental illness in psychiatric reference texts.

“One of the the things that’s definite in our lives is your gender,” Cy said. “When something blurs that line, I can see how other people would feel threatened by that. It shakes your reality.

“We don’t want to paint a picture of what a transgender woman is supposed to look like,” she added, “but we do want to change how the outside community relates to us.

“We all have one common denominator — we’re all still human beings. And we want to be acknowledged for who and what we are.”

A chrysalis, the cocoon stage in the life cycle of a butterfly, is the perfect symbol for what Chrysalis Lingerie is trying to achieve, she said.

“A chrysalis is also a metaphor of transformation,” she said. “But in order to transition, you need to create a space where you are safe and loved.”

Because their first collection has a traditional, minimalist look that wouldn’t be out of place on the shelves of Armani or even DKNY, Chrysalis risks being accused of trying to make the TG community appear more “normal” as a way of conforming to societal expectations.

The company knows this, and is highly sensitive to the complex politics of identity in the LGBT world, Cy said. Chrysalis isn’t pushing a one-size-fits-all vision of TG life, although it is staying away from explicit fashions that can reinforce stereotypes and further marginalize transgender women.

“I feel there’s a lot of stuff out there that’s really sexually explicit in nature,” she said. “We’re just trying to balance the market.”

And the timing is right for something like Chrysalis, she added. While news events like this weekend’s decision by the Miss Universe Canada pageant to bar a TG competitor still get the most attention, public acceptance of gender-variant people is also growing. Portrayals of TG characters in TV and films is becoming more common, and in 2010 the Obama administration appointed TG activist Amanda Simpson as an advisor to the Commerce Department.

“The whole world is embracing the fact that humanity comes in different forms,” Cy said. “Life is so vast and so glorious there has to be more than two ways of living your life.”

Watch for the first collection from Chrysalis Lingerie to appear on the company website soon. Products will be for sale online and, hopefully, through progressive retail boutiques.

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