Lingerie brands searching for ideas that will resonate in the female imagination can’t go wrong with ballet.
The fluttering whoosh of sheer fabrics, the glint of stage lights and the captivating elegance of lithe bodies in motion are a surefire way to make any heart swoon. Ballet is romance brought to life, a fantasy world made real. Which, when you think about it, is what lingerie does too.
It’s no surprise, then, that every year we see a few lingerie brands mining this rich vein of inspiration for new collections or marketing imagery or both. Some recent examples (below, in order): Aubade‘s Swan Lake-inspired ‘Magic Swan‘ from this fall’s collection; the precious Grace feather bra from Myla in 2010, inspired by the movie Black Swan; and Fred & Ginger‘s silk-and-satin Ballets Russes set from last fall.
One of the most thorough and authentic — if such a thing is possible — treatments of the ballet motif in lingerie design comes this fall from Aussie label Pleasure State.
Like Fred & Ginger before it, Pleasure State looks back more than a century to the creative watershed that was Sergei Diaghilev‘s Ballets Russes for its inspiration.
What’s really new about Pleasure State’s approach, though, is that they developed the Ballets Russes theme in two collections: their high-fashion Couture line, and the VIP line designed for voluptuous figures.
This is another symbolic step forward for plus-size women — a market that is increasingly coveted, and embraced, by lingerie brands. Giving larger women a lingerie collection inspired by winsome ballerinas isn’t just good marketing; it feels like a long-overdue gesture of respect and validation.
And Pleasure State approaches its stylistic pas de deux with a lot of respect for its source material.
The Ballets Russes flourished throughout the early part of the 20th Century and brought together some of the world’s great artistic talents, drawn like moths to Diaghilev’s flame. In addition to dance legends like Nijinsky, Massine and Balanchine, the Ballets Russes’ collaborators in the areas of costume and art design included some of the fashion and art world’s most celebrated figures: Picasso, Chanel, Matisse, Gonchorova, Braque and many more.
The Ballets Russes offers very, very rich ground for anyone looking for design inspiration, and Pleasure State — among the world’s most fearlessly design-centric lingerie brands — doesn’t disappoint.
Style ranges in the new PS Couture collection take their cues from some of the Ballets Russes’ legendary productions. The Bloom range in the main photo at the top of this article is a tribute to choreographer Michel Fokine’s 1911 staging of La Spectre de la Rose, while the Grecia range channels Fokine’s Daphnis et Chloé.
You don’t need to be a balletomane to recognize the origins of many of these pieces. There’s a Magic Feather line from Stravinsky’s Firebird; a Sleeping Princess set inspired by Tchaikovsky’s original 1889 ballet that the Ballets Russes remounted in 1921; and the ravishing Cleopatre line (which we wrote about earlier) inspired by one of the ballet’s earliest successes.
Perhaps the most inspired of Pleasure State’s choices (given the vast repertoire of the Ballets Russes), though, is its Zephyr & Flore range (above). The bright fashion-forward floral print doesn’t seem like a vintage offering until you consider its orgins: the pivotal 18th Century romantic ballet about the love between the wind and a springtime nymph, which sent dancers soaring across the stage like petals in the breeze.
Pleasure State’s VIP collection continues this thematic exploration with eight new styles that run the gamut from modern to vintage looks, all inspired by the ballet. It’s an ever-so-slightly less ornate than the glittering Couture collection, and the tie-in with the Ballets Russes isn’t as obvious. Still, the ecru Swan Lake set (below), with a floral pattern embroidered on a mesh base, should help any woman (up to a G cup!) channel her inner swan.
And take note: the tutus in these photos aren’t part of the Pleasure State collection, although the brand does offer a “tutu pink” hue in some styles.
In these collections, Pleasure State doesn’t attempt to copy the lavish costumery that was associated with the Ballets Russes (although we’d love to see someone dig through the archives and try that someday!). Pleasure State has its own stylistic DNA, one that favors elaborate embellishment and colorful layered textures — characteristics that are highly compatible with the ballet company’s enduring legacy.
Lingerie brands that aim to create ballet-inspired looks in the future will doubtless be compared to Pleasure State’s achievements in 2012: they have, if you’ll pardon a pun, set the barre high.
Finally, one more noteworthy issue: this fall’s Pleasure State collections are among the first to get broad universal distribution through the Bendon Group‘s extensive new online shopping portal. A new website isn’t big news these days, unless you happen to be one of those people who don’t have access to Pleasure State stores or boutique distributors. The multi-brand Bendon Lingerie online store offers hundreds of pieces from Pleasure State, Stella McCartney, Elle Macpherson Intimates and all of the other popular Bendon labels.