Lingerie designers with a fondness for vintage style have found plenty of inspiration in the complex cultural legacy of the post-WWII era.
But who would have guessed that a 1940s screwball movie comedy about old ladies who murder their gentlemen callers would inspire a 21st Century lingerie label?
Yes, Arsenic and Old Lace, the oft-revived Broadway play and classic Frank Capra film, is the source material for the new Belgian label Arsenic & Vieilles Dentelles.
Which is not to say there is any homicidal intent behind A&VD — although some of its more erotic styles could kill a weak-hearted man with a single glance.
A&VD founder Laure Hurlet told Lingerie Talk she was “a little bit influenced” by the Cary Grant movie of the same name, but was mostly interested in paying tribute to “the youth of my grandparents and all the old stories they told me when I was a child.”
The name also captures the paradox in the brand’s aesthetic, which combines bold, barely-there eroticism with glamorous silhouettes straight out of the 1950s.
The Dixie Lee Pea Dot knickers, shown in the top photo, are a good example of how A&VD combines old and new sources. It’s a classic high-waisted panty, made from ultra-modern mesh and silk, and given a sexy something extra with the triple keyhole openings on the backside.
“Lingerie … makes us recall ourselves,” Hurlet writes on her website. “The women we were and the women we’ll be.”
(The label also has a bit of a kinky edge: its first collection includes a 5-meter cotton-poly cord with fringed tassels, meant for use in Shibari knot-tying and other boudoir games.)
Hurlet studied fashion design in Brussels, won some prestigious awards, and worked for several apparel brands after graduating in 2007. Based on that experience, she taught herself lingerie design in order to create her own brand.
“Lingerie is more like a passion for me,” she said. “It’s a way of life, a way to express my creativity and I would like to share this passion with everyone.”
You can see learn more about Hurlet’s very sensual (and sensory) approach to lingerie by browsing through her 9-piece debut collection, which is called ‘Eat Your Little Pea’.
If you’re wondering what that means, it’s not what you think. “Eat your peas” is a familiar axiom, a kind of parental admonition to accept something that is unpleasant but necessary. For Hurlet and A&VD, however, it has a more personal meaning — it’s a greedy lover’s invitation contained in a fairly long, romantic poem that is included in the brand’s first lookbook. Here’s a snippet:
“Today, I am a collection.
A collection of carefully collected emotions.
Today, I am desire.
A desire to be.
Some eat the eyes.
Other devour words.
Are you one of them?
Eat your little pea.”
Arsenic & Vieilles Dentelles currently offers 9 mix-and-match pieces on its webshop, and orders can be shipped internationally. Here are some more photos from its debut campaign.