An L.A.-based lingerie company that specializes in erotic bedroom fashions is raising eyebrows with its latest collection — which is aimed at children as young as 8.
But Porscha Woodard, founder of Porscha Starr Lingerie, says there’s nothing sexual or inappropriate about the Starrlett collection of “adolescent apparel.”
“We’re not trying to send off any messages that are sexual or intimate in any way,” Woodard told Lingerie Talk. “We don’t have pieces that look adult-like. They’re still within children’s boundaries.”
The Starrlett collection, which launched on Nov. 21, is aimed at pre-teens and tweens and includes both two-piece ensembles and lace-trimmed bodysuits. The skirted pieces and other styles aimed at younger girls are meant to be used for pageant auditions, gymnastics and dancewear, Woodard said, while the two-piece sets offer “a fashion-forward approach to the training bra.”
According to a company press release, the Starrlett line is designed for girls 8 to 15 and is meant to illustrate “the playful, fun and girly aspects of the Porscha Starr brand. … However, this line is NOT to be confused with lingerie.”
Several other brands have found themselves at the center of high-profile protests in recent years for targeting adolescent girls with underwear styles deemed too provocative for children. The most controversial was a 2011 photo campaign from the French youth label Jours Après Lunes (below), in which pre-teen girls wearing the brand’s undergarments posed suggestively while made up to resemble supermodels.
Woodard said she followed the experience of Jours Après Lunes closely, and wanted to “bring the same energy” of the French brand (which is still in business) to the American market — but with more age-appropriate marketing.
The imagery used to promote the Starrlett line features models aged 9-13 and care was taken to avoid showing the girls in a sexualized context, she said. Thus, the models were shown without shoes or makeup, wearing natural hair styles and in no poses requiring the girls to lie down or recline.
Still, Woodard said Porscha Starr knows it will attract criticism for its Starrlett collection, and announced the launch in a press release today.
“We want to be open and up front about it,” she said. “It’s not a secret. We’re not hiding anything.”
Reaction to the Starrlett collection has so far been mixed. “We’ve had some feedback from parents who say lingerie shouldn’t be for children,” Woodard said. “But we don’t call it lingerie. It’s adolescent apparel.”
Woodard, who launched the adult-oriented Porscha Starr collection (above) in 2011, said she decided to add a youth line partly to give mothers and daughters some bonding time.
“I wanted to make it for children and tweens so that mothers and daughters can shop together,” she said. “Nine times out of 10 a lingerie store doesn’t offer anything for a child.
“There isn’t a high-fashion brand for young girls that is fashion forward but still age appropriate, and caters to their maturity while supporting their transition into young womanhood. That needs to be changed.”
At the same time, Woodard said she shares many parents’ concerns about the sexualization of children in media and culture.
“I do believe that this generation is exposed to more sexualizing items than before, and I believe it’s because we’re more advanced technologically,” she said. “Today a 2-year-old can use an iPad.
“Back in the day, you wouldn’t see a teenager wearing something provocative but now they see the media and go to concerts and want to wear what they see.
“I don’t see it as something to worry about. It depends on where they’re going in their life, what their family and parents are like. I don’t think something they wear will determine where they are going.”
Porscha Starr items are custom-made and are currently available through the brand’s webshop and the chic L.A. boutique La Maison de Fashion on Melrose Ave.