La Perla specializes in creating illusions — artistic, theatrical, seductive illusions that lift women out of their daily lives and transport them to other, more glamorous and romantic, worlds.
The Italian lingerie house did it twice last year, with a spring collection that evoked the coy playfulness of the 1960s and a geisha-inspired fall range — the year’s most triumphant lingerie collection — that blended a host of modern and vintage Asian themes.
For its Spring 2013 offering, La Perla looks closer to home — but much deeper into the past — with a luxurious collection inspired by the opulent lifestyles of the donnas who inhabited the Baroque palazzos of Sicily in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
That might seem like a rather obscure reference point, but it suits the La Perla aesthetic (and its nationalistic sentiments) perfectly.
The aristocratic society of Sicily’s post-earthquake Baroque period was as ostentatious as any in Italy, and the elaborate architecture of its residential palazzos was meant to overwhelm the senses of visitors. But Sicilian art and culture has also always aspired toward a kind of distinctness that would set it apart from the rest of Europe.
La Perla captures that individualistic spirit with designs that incorporate historic elements and bold modern touches, too. Many pieces use striking architectural lines as a starting point then add increasingly complex layers of ornamentation. The result is an intricately detailed collection that features some stunningly artistic pleats, embroidery, fluted skirts and other flourishes.
The company reinforces the Baroque illusion by photographing the collection (below) in the magnificent Palazzo Valguarnera-Gangi in Palermo, which was also the setting for Valentino‘s FW 2012 photoshoot. The fact that model Jeisa Chiminazzo is not dwarfed by the grandeur of the setting is a testament to La Perla’s artistry — and its confidence.
With few exceptions (such as the lace-up corset above), this is not a true vintage collection; in fact, most of these looks could have barely have been imagined 200 years ago.
Instead, it’s an homage to a time and a culture which not only embraced but celebrated limitless self-indulgence. For pampered 21st Century women who are lucky enough to be La Perla customers, those days can’t return soon enough.