There’s nothing cliché about the new Melbourne lingerie label KissKill, except its origins: it’s living proof of the old adage ‘when one door shuts, another one opens’.
KissKill founder Jane Carrodus was one of the casualties in the recent collapse of Bellechasse, a French-inspired premium label that was the latest attempt to create a home-grown luxury lingerie brand in Australia. Bellechasse made a glitzy debut in 2011 and had plans to open a chain of 10 stores, but it barely lasted a year.
Carrodus, who has nearly 15 years experience in product development and design, was the brand’s in-house designer and worked in its Melbourne store. But losing her job also created an opportunity to pursue her own ambitions.
“Everything I learned put me in the right position to do it properly,” she told Lingerie Talk. “I never had plans to do my own label, but it seemed like the right thing at the right time. Plus, the factory I wanted to work with was available, and that’s always a big issue.”
KissKill‘s debut collection, called Licence To Kill, aims to capture contrasting facets of womanhood — the confident, assertive seductress along with the more traditionally feminine and flirty minx. It’s a blend that has made brands like Agent Provocateur successful, but in Australia it’s still a hard sell.
“People are still focused on underwear in Australia, worn simply for function,” Carrodus said. “I say, wear fabulous underwear even if you are the only person who is going to see it.”
KissKill‘s seven style ranges include traditional lace-and-silk silhouettes as well as more fashion-centric pieces that use modern power fabrics, bold pops of color (like the orchid pink in the top photo) and gleaming hardware to give them contemporary appeal. The collection includes bras, panties, slips, bodysuits and robes — even a bridal robe that began selling as soon as word got out about Carrodus’ new venture.
The label launched its online shop last week and will be sold through retail boutiques and shopping events, but ultimately Carrodus aims to take KK to the global market.
Carrodus has worked for a number of other fashion houses Down Under, including six years doing production, design and even buying for popular sleepwear brand Peter Alexander. The move to Bellechasse allowed her to focus on crafting premium french-inspired lingerie and perfect the fit and sizing of her garments.
When Bellechasse shuttered, Carrodus had several job offers but took a holiday to consider her options.
“I never worked toward this, I kind of fell into it,” she said, noting that she began her creative life as an artist, doing painting and photography and supporting herself by working in retail.
“Then a friend reminded me that when I was 20 we sat down one night and wrote out a list of our goals. One thing I said was that I wanted to design lingerie. I had completely forgotten about that.”
Today, however, she has an extensive network of industry friends across Australia that are rooting for KissKill.
“A lot of designers are great at what they do but they struggle to make it commercially,” she said. “I’m lucky in that I’ve got a lot of great people around me to help.”
[Note: KissKill isn’t the only new lingerie label in Melbourne, which is also home to popular indie Hopeless and the colorful newcomer Light Years. And next month, the Colombia-based Zona Rosa will launch its latin-influenced brand in Melbourne after debuting at Sydney’s Fashion Exposed fashion show.]
Carrodus thought long and hard about a name for her new label that would convey both its style and attitude, and she knows the use of the word “kill” will raise some eyebrows.
“We’re always going to get some questions about the word ‘kill’,” she said, “but people who understand what I’m doing will understand the name.”
“Risk-taking is the very essence of the brand,” she added. “KissKill is about being edgy and in control and dominant in a way … but soft enough to be sexy. It’s not about being tough and powerful, it’s about having that contrast.”
KissKill will host a formal launch party sometime in the next couple of months and then, Carrodus says, begin looking at how to pitch the label internationally.
Here are some images from the label’s very glamorous first lookbook.
Model: Chrissy Walczak @ London Management
Photographer: Bernard Michael Gueit @ Crave Agency
Stylist: Sophie Barker @ sophiebarker.com.au
Hair & Make-up: Kate Blainey @ kateblainey.com