Long before women around the world got turned on by the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, a small number of fashion brands were quietly giving bedroom bondage and sado-masochism a stylish makeover.
Brands like Coco De Mer, Kiki de Montparnasse and others gave fashion-conscious pleasure-seekers countless ways to embrace their submissive side without having to descend into the dungeon culture of the hardcore bondage world.
Lingerie brands like Bordelle, Agent Provocateur and Lascivious were key players in this emerging market, creating garments that straddled the line between costumery and weaponry and positively demanding women to explore the boundaries of their own boldness.
Today, the Fifty Shades phenomenon has made erotic playtime (and all the gear that goes with it) more than just acceptable; suddenly, bondage is downright middle class.
As weird as that sounds, the boom in BDSM has been a boon for those pioneering labels that were responsible for Christian Grey’s naughty ideas in the first place.
One of the newcomers in that noble crusade is Fraulein Kink, a small German label that made a big name for itself quickly with its luxurious collection of elegant chains, masks, cuffs, collars and other erotic aides.
Fraulein Kink was founded in 2010 by an FIT grad who calls herself Miss Nicole and who worked for both Lascivious and Très Bonjour before starting her own label. Since then, her pieces have become must-haves for adventurous women around the world (and their generous gift-giving partners). In Fraulein Kink‘s brave new world, bondage gear is more treasure than toy: it’s part jewelry, part apparel and the absolute height of refinement.
Lingerie Talk talked to Miss Nicole about her new collection, Love Me Two Times Baby, an exceptional and unique set of pieces in velvet, leather, vinyl, fur and more. If the best your lover can offer is grey silk ties, you might want to direct him to Fraulein Kink‘s webshop.
Our interview begins below, and all photos shown are from the new collection.
Lingerie Talk: What does the phrase “love me two times” mean to you?
Fraulein Kink: Love Me Two Times Baby is a line from a Doors song. I wanted this collection to incorporate new versions of some of the best selling items, with hopes that clients would love them again. I always try to have fun when naming the collections and thought that title fit great!
LT: You’re a New Yorker who moved to Berlin and set up your label there. Did you feel the European market would be more receptive to your product line?
FK: I moved to Berlin because I fell in love with a German, and was ready for a new adventure.
LT: Do you think European women are generally more daring and more liberal than Americans in their choice of bedroom gear? Or is that changing?
FK: In my opinion the Europeans are just more open about talking about sex, and the Americans keep it a secret. Other then that, all bets are off! I have great sales in both the United States and Europe.
LT: Fraulein Kink is one of several lingerie and accessory brands that seemed to anticipate the sudden interest in BDSM-related fashions and gear following the publication of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. Did the success of that book surprise you? And how has it impacted your business?
FK: The 50 Shades success has definitely impacted my business in a positive way! I couldn’t be happier about it! The biggest struggle with my brand is getting retail buyers to open up their minds about stocking fetish products. When chatting with new buyers, I often hear the common phrase, “My clients don’t ask for these products, so I’m not sure if they will sell.” I always tell them that my products are secret wishes, and their clients are coming into the shop and requesting them. As soon as they are in the shop, they sell out!
LT: Many products in the Fraulein Kink catalogue are so decorative and refined, they are a long way from the kind of raunchy, rough-and-tumble image associated with erotic accessories and BDSM toys. Are you deliberately trying to polish up that image?
FK: 100% yes. The main reason I created my brand is that I was unhappy with the selection of erotic accessories I was seeing in the market. I believe that these items can be feminine, high fashion and luxurious. This is what I always have in mind when designing.
LT: Do we perhaps need a new way of describing items like yours, that are something between a garment and an instrument of pleasure? “Erotic accessories” sounds too vague; “toys” sounds too trivial.
FK: I like to say that my accessories are a “perfect blend of sex and fashion.” My goal is to create sexy fashion items that can be used inside or out of the bedroom.
LT: I get the sense that Fraulein Kink isn’t meant to appeal to the hardcore (pardon the pun) bondage crowd, but to fashion-conscious women looking to add some experimental spice to their love lives. Is that accurate?
FK: Yes, I am not into the hardcore bondage scene, and I definitely keep my brand out of the this area.
LT: The name Fraulein Kink was edgy and provocative three years ago. But “kink” isn’t such dirty word anymore. Are we moving towards a time when erotic accessories are truly part of the fashion (and romantic) mainstream?
FK: Yes, with all the fetish fashion being worn by famous artists/actresses in the media, and the success of 50 shades. This has helped to bring kinky items into the mainstream. Even Louis Vuitton made handcuffs!
LT: How many of your customers are (to your knowledge) first-timers? And do they ever report back to you, describing their experiences with your products?
FK: I am not sure how many are “first timers” but I do hear feedback from buyers and clients on how much they love my products. That they are extremely happy at the beauty and quality, and are excited to buy more!
LT: Do you think women (and men) are typically too conservative when it comes to erotic exploration? Shouldn’t we all be having more fun?
FK: I believe everyone should spice up their lives! The more fun you are having the better!
LT: Should men worry about what their partner might think if they give them a Fraulein Kink collar-and-cuffs set as a romantic gift?
FK: No way! My designs are specially designed for woman. All the items are feminine and soft on the skin. Who can resist a beautiful gift box with some luxury fur handcuffs with tulle bows inside?
LT: Fraulein Kink has really made its mark with its fringe masks, which turn the ho-hum blindfold into something mysterious and mischievous. Where did that inspiration come from?
FK: I was trying to come up with a new idea for a blindfold that was not represented in the market. My love of fringe led me to the blindfold idea. The first concept design happened organically.
LT: Is it your hope that women will add your cuffs, collars and harnesses to their outerwear looks as well? Is that why many of your restraint pieces have detachable chains?
FK: Yes, all items are designed with the idea in mind that you can style them as a fashion accessory. Detachable chains allow you to wear them more easily outside the bedroom, or you can hook the handcuff chain to your purse or belt.
LT: You offer a set of white fur wedding handcuffs. Who would give such a gift? The groom? A bridesmaid? Certainly not the new in-laws?!
FK: I have had girls give them to their friends as a wedding gift, brides bring them as a surprise for the honeymoon, and also women just buy them not related to a wedding at all. They are one of my best selling items!
LT: You did a fabulous collaboration last year with Lascivious that paired on of their mesh bodies with an FK chain set. Are you planning any more collabos?
FK: Yes! I did another one with Lascivious that just launched on their website. Getting ready to launch my first ever Luxury Kink Paper Dolls. This collaboration is with a super talented artist from NYC named Joshua D. Mckenney. I am also in some talks to design some kink-inspired stockings with designer Gal Stern from Israel. Last but not least, I’m working on an idea with Kriss Soonik.
LT: Where does the lingerie come from that you use in your campaign imagery?
FK: Most is from my personal collection, and others were on loan from fellow designers. I have used a bunch of Lascivious pieces.
LT: When you are designing new pieces, do you fantasize about how women (and men) will put them to use? I imagine that would be a lot of fun!
FK: I actually think about the style of the item more then how they will be used. Play time is important to keep in mind when designing, but fashion is always first!
LT: Finally, do you have any plans to create a collection of FK grey silk ties? And if not, why not? I think they might sell.
FK: I have plans to design some grey color kink items. This was already in the works before I knew about the books. I will be launching some grey fringe items, and fur cuffs next season. I am sure many people will be selling grey ties, but I want to stay true to my brand image and put a Fraulein Kink twist on it.
Credits: Photography by Catherine Day; Models Tessa Kuragi and Twiglet.