Some designer lingerie labels — the ones with diehard fans and trademark styles — face an interesting creative conflict with each new collection.
The industry is driven by the demand for new looks each season, but for some established labels there’s a corresponding pressure to not stray too far from their popular signature styles. Why risk turning off your loyal customers when your catalogue pieces are dependable bestsellers?
No one knows this better than Damaris Evans, who has produced many ground-breaking lingerie looks since launching her luxury label Damaris just over 10 years ago and the lower-priced diffusion line Mimi Holliday a few years later.
The classic “bow” knicker with its silk tails; the peephole backside with its revealing bum cleavage; the barely-there all-straps brief; and, more recently, the extreme deep-V décolletage — all are Damaris signatures and recurring themes in each new collection.
They’ve also provided the foundations, so to speak, for a growing global empire. Damaris products are now available in over 100 boutiques worldwide and the Mimi label is (according to the company) the top lingerie seller for both Topshop and Net-a-Porter — a rare trans-Atlantic conquest.
The distinctive Damaris look has also spawned innumerable copycats. The brand claims that “95% of the whole lingerie market is now influenced by Damaris’s designs” and says it has negotiated legal settlements with “wannabes” such as La Perla, Myla, New Look and others who have “blatantly attempted to replicate the bow knicker.”
Though still young, Damaris is a legacy brand in the making — meaning your grandkids will wear Damaris (or, more likely, Mimi Holliday) someday — and one determined to guard its legacy with extreme vigilance.
Damaris could continue to churn out bow knickers in candy-colored hues season after season and no one — certainly not retail buyers — would complain. But how much fun would that be for a design team that has strived over the years to find new ways to showcase women’s sensuality?
So it’s a refreshing surprise to see this fall’s new collections from Damaris: here is a brand that refuses to play it safe. Oh, you’ll find immediately recognizable elements in both the Damaris and Mimi Holliday lines for A/W 2012, but both collections are also brimming with clever innovations, new styles and an exhilarating freshness throughout.
There’s a lot that’s new here, especially in the high-end Damaris line (below), which this season offers five new style ranges named for diverse global locations plus — big news for brides! — the label’s first bridal range.
That’s the new Timbuktu range in the main photo at the top of this article, and it’s a good illustration of a brand that’s not content to rest on its laurels. It offers a new mix of satin and chiffon, and the ornamental maribou feather trim on the dazzling bolero jacket adds some real glamour to a romantic package. Destined to be one of the most sought-after ensembles of the season.
Elsewhere in the fall collection you’ll find padded versions of the popular V-bras, creative new uses for Swarovski crystals, dangling tassels and a frisky new fringe-based set called Vegas. The new bridal line, called Casablanca, carries the chic Damaris silhouette into a bride’s trousseau — including a waist cincher made to look like the matching garters.
Over at the Mimi Holliday label, meanwhile, Damaris’s creative juices are flowing abundantly. Fall brings more than a dozen style ranges from Mimi — some that update popular ranges from past collections, but plenty of new looks too.
What you’ll notice immediately is an expanded offering of silk slips, teddies and camis — or at least Damaris’s original take on those fashion staples — along with interesting new high-waisted knickers and softer tap pants with nice fluted hems. A good example is the silk Chanterelle playsuit above, with an understated French dot pattern.
For the image gallery below, we’ve chosen some of the nicest news looks for fall, many of which aren’t what you first think of when you think of Mimi Holliday. This label already has a huge presence in the bra-and-briefs market for 20-somethings; now it’s looking to help those girls expand their intimates wardrobe. (Several new style ranges with names like Elferine, Nymphina and Tinkerbell give you a pretty good idea of who they’re targeting!)
The biggest surprise, though, isn’t lingerie at all. It’s those to-die-for bunny and kitten ear headpieces that you see below. They go on sale later this fall and — mark my word! — will be this season’s hottest accessory.
If you’re devoted to Mimi’s usual candy-colored palette, faux Parisian polka dots, lacey soft bras and those ubiquitous bow knickers, you won’t be disappointed with this collection. But you can also expand your wardrobe with new animal prints and some rich new hues for fall like berry, azure and eggplant.
It’s all very sheer, beautifully detailed and ridiculously seductive. See? Where Damaris is concerned, some things never change.