Bondage fashion trendsetter Bordelle looked 100 years into the past for inspiration for its spring collection and found an unlikely kindred spirit there.
The new line from the British brand that pioneered the straps-and-hardware-and-not-much-else trend in luxury lingerie takes its cues from famous cabarets of the past, though it’s doubtful that those high-kicking showgirls could have pulled off their moves in one of Bordelle‘s bandage-wrap creations.
But it’s the uninhibited libertine spirit of one cabaret star in particular that informs this collection — Alice Prin, AKA Kiki of Montparnasse, the model, writer, actress, dancer and all-round template for a thousand celebrity party girls who followed in her illustrious footsteps.
Kiki was a notorious fixture of the raucous Paris nightclub scene in the 1920s and 30s, an unapologetic exhibitionist whose explicit memoirs were banned for decades. Her influence, however, can be seen in many overlapping shifts in 20th Century culture, from women’s rights to sexual liberation to public morality and even eroticized fashions.
In a diary entry on its website, Bordelle says it was influenced by Kiki’s “fabulously debauched lifestyle” and that “her independent spirit has been channeled into the collection’s key looks.”
Many of the new pieces here are variations of past creations that employ Bordelle‘s signature style of elasticized bands wrapped into fashionable shapes. The collection’s standout new piece is the Cabaret Harness (below), which uses broad satin bands connected by 18K gold-pated rings for show-stopping effect.
The other noteworthy addition to the Bordelle catalogue is the dramatic Vedette range with its bold geometric lines and pop of satiny colour. That’s the Vedette dress in the main photo above, and you can find similar looks in a matching bra and brief.
Bordelle is the very definition of a modern luxury lingerie brand and it doesn’t really share the kind of bohemian fashion sense that characterized the original Kiki. But the two still have a lot in common.
Like Kiki, Bordelle exudes personal power and self-assurance and fearlessly positions itself just beyond the borders of conventional morality, confident in the belief that where it leads others will follow. Kiki’s status has grown over the past century, to the point where it now dovetails perfectly with contemporary feminism. There’s no reason to doubt that Bordelle’s influence won’t follow a similar trajectory.
And for those who think it’s a bit incongruous for a 21st Century trendsetting brand to look to the past for inspiration, consider this: a “vedette” is an obscure military term for an advance scouting party; in a military parade formation, the vedette is the person in the lead. Remind you of anyone?
Below are images from the campaign for Bordelle‘s Spring-Summer collection, offering some idea of what the brand’s styles might look like in a cabaret setting, embellished with extravagant headwear, feather boas, luxury robes and more. The brand’s original Angela dress is shown at the bottom, along with an ivory bridal version.