Forget about that Thomas Wolfe quote: you can go home again — and come back renewed.
That’s what Canadian designer Carrie Russell discovered when she returned to her ancestral homeland of Scotland last fall, looking to reconnect with her family and find inspiration for her next lingerie collection.
The result is the Courage collection from Russell’s Toronto-based label With Love Lingerie: a sleek, bold, black-and-gold set that pushes the young indie brand into the kind of erotic territory occupied by many of Britain’s leading designer labels.
Though With Love is proudly made-in-Canada, the new Courage range is also brimming with nationalistic pride for Russell’s Scottish roots — most noticeable in the decorative gilt embroidery and gold-plate chains that add a regal touch to many pieces.
“Most of my family still lives in Scotland but I hadn’t been back for a long time,” Russell told Lingerie Talk. “So last fall I went [back] and rented a fishing cottage off the coast and spent a lot of time sketching and writing.”
Hunkered down near Inverness, she visited highland castles and manor houses, sketched in castle gardens and spent an afternoon “soaking everything in” at the nearby Culloden battlefields (which also inspired fellow Scot Alexander McQueen‘s 2006 Widows of Culloden collection).
She came away with a heap of inspirations and reference points: gardens, tapestries, scrollwork on buildings and, most importantly, “riveting stories of the historic women of the proud country.”
Russell worked those influences into the elaborate custom embroidery that is the Courage collection’s signature. If you look closely, you’ll even see a thistle leaf in the gold filigree, as a subtle nod to her roots.
“I thought the gold was bold and regal and struck a heavy contrast against the black,” she said. “That is how I feel about Scotland’s beauty in general. It is regal but not a French delicate majestry; more of a hard but enchanting and strong beauty.”
The Courage collection doesn’t look anything like previous offerings from Russell and With Love Lingerie, whose last set was a vintage-inspired grouping that recalled old Hollywood glamor. In contrast, Courage is a much more contemporary and cohesive collection, infused with the daring eroticism pioneered by today’s European trendsetters.
How contemporary is Courage? Two pieces — the Harness bra and the Tasseled body — are little more than elegantly arranged gold chains, teasing ensembles that will surely get the lord of the manor’s blood flowing after a cold day of hunting on the moors.
Altogether, the collection includes 9 new pieces fashioned from sleek silk charmeuse and fine mesh, along with bits of brass hardware — all of it on-trend, market-friendly and made distinctive by those embroidered flourishes.
The Courage collection is destined for the Fall 2103 market, meaning it should begin to reach stores in early summer — just about the time the heather starts blooming back home.
With Love Lingerie is widely available in Canadian boutiques and has a few international stockists as well as its own Etsy shop. Check their site for details.