Is this the year that sex toys finally come out of the closet … or the nightstand … or the Tupperware in your sock drawer … or wherever you’ve been hiding them all these years?
The erotic novelties industry is bracing for its biggest Valentine’s Day ever, thanks almost entirely to the phenomenal success of 50 Shades of Grey (and its imitators).
More than 60 million copies of the 50 Shades trilogy are now in circulation, heating up bedrooms and imaginations the world over. If ever there was a time to throw off the shackles of sexual conservatism and embrace, ahem, a different sort of self-restraint, that time is now.
And gentlemen, it’s also time to pay attention to what women are reading and what they really want. If you’ve talked yourself out of buying erotic V-Day gifts for fear of offending her, give your head a shake, get with the program …. and go watch the ‘Rabbit’ episode of Sex and the City.
The task this year is made easier thanks to a boom in premium erotic goods, whose price tag alone is enough to make them highly coveted gift items. Yes, your starter bondage kit really could become a family heirloom, the sort of thing you keep in your wall safe, not under the bed.
First-time shoppers are often a bit put off by the vast assortment of tawdry, kitschy items and the overall cheapness of the sex toys market. But numerous high-minded brands, from Lelo to Coco to Kiki, have done the noble work of creating a market niche where one never existed before — luxury accessories that bring class, novelty and creativity to your bedtime fun. Ironically, these brands offer a lot more than just 50 ways to frolic.
After exhausting (trust me) research, Lingerie Talk has compiled our first Kinky Valentine’s Gift Guide, featuring some of the most unusual and stimulating products available today in this rapidly expanding market. No battery-operated goodies here — you can find plenty of those anywhere — but lots of items to help you both discover new pathways to pleasure.
Let’s get started …
BONDAGE SCARF, DARKEST STAR
The collection of silk bondage scarves — meant to be worn with their matching collars, belts and cuffs — from the new UK label are absolutely the hottest thing in erotic fashion this year … so much so, you might have trouble finding one from the Darkest Star debut collection.
At three meters long, these silk beauties offer endless style possibilities and work as fashion pieces on their own. Around $200. www.darkeststar.com
PETTING RING, BETONY VERNON
It’s hard to explain what this is without getting into NSFW territory, but the designer and sex pioneer’s Petting Ring has become a not-so-guilty little secret among celebrities around the world. At $1,500, the sterling silver piece is meant to fit between the thumb and index finger and, obviously, can be used during solo and couples play.
Wildly original (it was inspired by yoga) and profoundly stimulating, this “jewel tool” from Betony’s Paradise Found collection was actually exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
If you still can’t tell how it’s used, Betony includes illustrations on her website and Christina Aguilera was nice enough to offer a demonstration in the photo above, from her Bionic album. Luckily, the censors had no idea what she was doing. www.betonyvernon.com
VALENTINE’S SET, FRAULEIN KINK
The Berlin-based Ms Kink has elevated run-of-the-mill fetish gear into elegant fashion collectibles. For V-Day, she created this memorable pairing that includes her signature fringe blindfold with a red heart insignia, matching handcuffs, and gunmetal chains.
One of the few erotic accessories that are safe for public display, many FKink pieces like this set double as daywear accessories. €69 a set; shipping available. www.frauleinkink.com
PAINTING KIT, LOVE IS ART
Love Is Art debuted this expressive romantic gift a couple of years ago and it became an instant hit among couples looking to make a one-of-a-kind statement.
The idea is simple: spread out the included canvas on your floor or bed, drench yourself in paint, then get busy. The resulting product is a lasting, and real, depiction of an amorous moment in time … like a Jackson Pollock done with Nuru gel.
Suitable for framing and great as a conversation starter, though you might want to send it to the closet when the parents visit. Alas, no one’s ever quite figured out what to do with these things when couples break up. $60 and up. www.loveisartkit.com includes numerous sample paintings.
SPANKING KNICKERS, COCO DE MER
Are you always telling her she’s got a great a**? Well, prove your love with these naughty little bloomers from the industry leader in perverse intentions.
Follow these instructions carefully: Unfasten the enamel buttons on the backside of these silk babies; lower flap; apply discipline. Repeat as desired.
When offered as a Valentine’s gift, Coco’s spankers will make your beloved think you’re a freak. Remember, this is a good thing.
Available in purple, candy pink and black. £58; international shipping available. www.coco-de-mer.com
‘THE PROPOSAL’ GIFT SET, BOX OF GREY
If you haven’t discovered Box of Grey yet, check them out NOW. This red-hot UK company offers very expensive, expertly curated gift sets of BDSM and fetish-lite products for everyone from beginners to experienced adventurers. It’s also one of the best (among hundreds) of the merchandising tie-ins issuing from the 50 Shades phenom.
BOG offers eight different fantasy-theme sets and a dozen special-occasion packages. Each one is different and contains an assortment of pleasuring products from top designers. ‘The Proposal‘ set is meant to be used by would-be grooms and includes a feather tickler, a Darkest Star bondage scarf, a vibrator, shearling cuffs, chocolate and lots more.
Each BOG box (you can also custom-build your own) includes a different array of products that are either made in-house or sourced from top designers (look for sets that include Tamzin Lillywhite leather restraints!).
And how hot is this brand? Box of Grey’s eponymous gift set was ranked #1 on GQ magazine’s list of “the 100 best things in the world right now.” Yes, you read that correctly.
Each premium set comes in a metal flight case with velvet lining, which sounds cool until Customs decides to inspect your carry-on. £60 – 3,000. www.boxofgrey.com
SPIKED FIG LEAF, FAIR HOMMAGE
The European erotica retailer Pleasurements is offering this completely unique luxury item made by the German leather studio Fair Hommage.
It’s a soft Nappa leather fig leaf studded with Swarovski crystals on one side and small spikes on the other. Suitable for rubbing, spanking and a host of other BDSM entertainments, but it could double as an objet d’art just as well.
Leave this on your coffee table and see who has the nerve to ask “what the hell is THAT?!?”. $140. www.pleasurements.com
DIGITAL PINWHEEL, ELECTRASTIM
Here’s where we start to explore the boundaries of your comfort zone.
ElectraStim is a geek-friendly brand at the forefront of modern sexology, offering a range of products that stimulate body parts with low-voltage electric current. Plenty of accessories are available, including “conducive gel”, spare cables and remote control boxes, but you’ll need to supply your own rubber boots.
The Pinwheel is a dual-purpose device that can be used with or without the electric juice to create prickly sensations on your skin. It’s probably good for finishing pie crusts, too. £39. www.annsummers.com
PLEASURE PILLOW, DARKEST STAR
You can find a variety of inexpensive pillows, wedges and other amorous supports in erotica shops, but they won’t offer the mood-enhancing glamour of Darkest Star‘s collection.
Each satin pillow (there are large and small versions) includes hidden slits and bondage ties to keep your lover securely at your service. Alternatively, they can be used as lovemaking supports or simply as throw cushions in case your Gran comes for a visit. £159 – 300. www.darkeststar.com
RESTRAINING ARTS KIT, KIKI DE MONTPARNASSE
There are a LOT of starter kits out there for couples looking to investigate the world of bondage, S/M and fetish play … and you don’t need to pay Kiki’s prices to get into the act. (For the budget-conscious, try Sex & Mischief).
However, for those lovers who demand only the best, this exquisite collection of lambskin cuffs, leather straps and matching paddle is the ne plus ultra of pleasure packs. Safe word not included. $1,650. www.kikidm.com
INTIMATE HIDE-N-SEEK GAME, YESFORLOV
This inexpensive little gift item from the Parisian maker of “sexual cosmetics” brings the whole body-chocolate trend (haven’t we all tried that by now?) into the 21st Century.
This kit includes a non-staining fluorescent market with invisible ink and a mini blacklight to help you read whatever has been written. The idea is to use the marker to leave secret messages on your skin for your lover to discover.
Can be helpful in providing instructions, wish lists and how-to tips. For example, try writing “Slower!” on your thigh and see if he gets the message. £32. www.misencage.com
SEED MASSAGE STONE, COCO DE MER
If you’ve never had a hot stone massage, you probably won’t immediately see the potential in this custom-designed piece from Coco’s delightful imagination.
It’s a chrome-plated massage stone, shaped like the seed in Coco’s name and logo, and sized to fit in the palm of your hand.
Warm it up, add a few drops of oil and let the heavy petting begin. £42. www.coco-de-mer.com