Whenever I’m asked by entrepreneurs or indie designers who they should look to for inspiration as they launch careers in the lingerie business, I always mention the name Gabrielle Adamidis.
A rare mix of steely determination, uncompromising originality and raw talent, the founder of the Aussie label Hopeless Lingerie offers something of a beacon of hope for young designers facing the long uphill slog toward bringing their visions to market.
Gaby has written at length on her blog about the trials of running the dark, edgy one-woman label she founded in 2008. Her truth is unvarnished and at times discouraging, but you don’t need a spoiler alert to know that both Hopeless and Gaby made it through those early years and are doing well.
There are many things that distinguish Hopeless in a crowded underwear market, the most obvious being its gothic aesthetic, which for so long ran counter-current to the prevailing prettiness and old-school femininity that defines most underwear brands.
But market and consumer tastes eventually caught up to Hopeless: black, as they say, is the new black. In fact, there are so many imitators of Gaby’s strappy creations and ghoulish promotions that there’s a warning on the Hopeless website that alerts shoppers about the cheap knockoffs that have flooded the marketplace.
Today, Hopeless isn’t the cult label or stylistic contrarian it was when we first grew to love it several years ago. It has an exceptionally devoted following around the world who find numerous creative ways to sport Hopeless pieces over and under clothing, and international stockists to keep them supplied. And in the past year, Hopeless‘s profile in the fashion world skyrocketed thanks to a premium spread in Playboy and a game-changing appearance in a Britney Spears video.
So what does Gaby do when confronted by, gulp, success? Go back to her brand’s roots, with a striking new collection inspired by a notorious slasher film. Yes, a slasher film.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has followed Hopeless over the years; this is a label whose signature looks emanate from its founder’s lifelong fascination with horror movies.
The new collection, called Tenebrae, is a tribute of sorts to the mad genius of Dario Argento, the Italian filmmaker who has given the world one masterpiece (Suspiria), a whole lot of lesser films that mix graphic violence and campy horror, and one celebrity daughter (the actress/model Asia Argento).
Argento’s 1982 film Tenebre, which means “darkness”, was originally banned in Britain and is one of those difficult pictures that gore fans still love to debate: there’s a lot of mayhem and blood, much of it at the expense of female characters. American film fans will see plot similarities with Basic Instinct and echoes of Brian De Palma’s tortured-sex-and-psyche thriller Dressed To Kill, two mainstream movies that also don’t make the syllabus in many gender studies classes.
You’d think a lingerie range inspired by this sort of thing would be pretty grim (or pretty cheesy), but that’s not the case here. Tenebrae includes a playful mix of moods, colors and styles that will appeal to lovers of vintage silhouettes, goth references and chic contemporary design.
The Donna knickers, with their big polka dots on a sheer mesh black base, are bound to be a bestseller, but the real prize in the collection is the limited edition Monica wrap bra in a muted pink tone. The Jeanne set, shown in the main photo above, with its star mesh fabric will also serve as an erotic staple for many customers, although Hopeless‘s more daring fans will go for the limited edition Christina knickers in purple lace and sporting a deep plunging backside.
The nod to Argento also gives Gaby another chance to show off her skill in orchestrating provocative and memorable photo campaigns. In the lookbook for Tenebrae, photographer Steph Cammarano creates a tense mood by shooting model Marian Wolfe in shadows and light; you can almost hear the stalker’s footsteps coming around the corner.
Like much of Argento’s work, this isn’t the sort of thing that will go over well among the politically correct, but that’s hardly the point. With Tenebrae, Hopeless and its founder return to what they do best: exploring dark subject matter, and discovering beauty in the shadows.
RELATED: One more reason to love Hopeless, and indie brands in general, can be seen in another photo shoot done in May, this time featuring Australian plus-size model Tamara Matecic (above). This also runs counter to prevailing industry practices, but it’s a tremendous encouragement to women who don’t often see themselves portrayed in lingerie marketing. And it showcases Hopeless‘s stretchy styles in a flattering light, too. As one fan commented on the Hopeless Facebook page: “When I wear my Hopeless Lingerie I feel like it was made especially for my body, with love. You are giving us women more reasons to be comfortable in our own skin.”