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Surely it’s just a coincidence that UK lingerie brand Fleur of England has released two new Scottish-themed collections, back to back, less than a month before Scotland’s independence vote?

And surely there’s nothing political about designer Fleur Turner‘s decision to drop the “England” from her brand name for these two lines, replacing it with the very clannish “House of Fleur” to commemorate her unspecified “Scottish heritage”?

Whatever wee bit o’ mischief is going on here, one thing is certain: Fleur’s Scottish offerings, called Heather and Edinburgh, definitely work Better Together (which just happens to be the slogan for the No side in the divisive referendum debate).

Actually, Scottish lassies should feel quite tickled that the Bristol-based Fleur has chosen this momentous time in history to shine such a flattering light on her northern neighbor. (And they might rightly wonder why other brands that have more at stake in the referendum don’t use their talents to do the same.)

The real gem in Fleur’s double-barreled salute to Scotland is the stunning bespoke tartan that is the centerpiece of the Edinburgh line, shown in the main photo above.

Creating a truly original tartan is challenging to begin with and potentially controversial if you’re going to attach a Scottish name to it. Fleur navigates that tricky terrain with a peacock-and-kingfisher-blue pattern that is reminiscent of both Scotland’s national colour and the greenery of the Cheshire region in England where the historic silk mill that produces the print is situated.

The Edinburgh tartan is available in a French knicker, a camisole and Fleur’s first silk pyjama set — possibly the perfect outfit for curling up at home and watching the votes come in on Sept. 18.

The second collection, Heather, is entirely different — an Italian floral lace and silk satin line in a soft lilac hue that, according to the company, was inspired by “the wilds of the Scottish Highlands and the dusky sunsets over its romantic heath lands.”

This is a luxury collection that includes two bras and three brief styles, a silk georgette cami and matching kimono and a snug contour babydoll. And, while the company’s PR material encourages women to “take a romantic walk in misty fields of heather” in one of these pieces, we really can’t recommend it: that stuff is scratchy!

There are a lot better ways to approach the upcoming Scottish vote than getting your knickers in a knot about the whole messy business. And Fleur does a nice job of sidestepping the politics and creating a stylish tribute to the country’s boundless heritage.

Besides, anyone familiar with this highly esteemed brand knows that Fleur’s only allegiance is to romance, wherever it is found.

Here are some images from the lookbook for these lovely new collections.

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Writers and lingerie designers have a lot in common, because both are in the business of telling stories.

That’s why you’ll often hear designers refer to the “stories” in a new collection; as in, “This season we introduce six new stories.” (There’s even a lovely British label called Intimate Stories.)

Many customers might not really understand the connection, but it’s not a euphemism or affectation peculiar to this industry.

Lingerie designers, more than most people in other fashion categories, use imaginary narratives to help guide their creative process and find new stylistic direction.

Think of it this way: it’s a lot easier for a designer to conceptualize a new seasonal collection by fantasizing about plucky princesses or sexy superheroines or heartbroken courtesans than by simply saying, “This time let’s do something with green lace!”

Lingerie “stories” become powerful marketing tools too, resulting in the fabulous photoshoots, video campaigns and magazine editorials that drive the industry and keep fans enthralled.

This unique feature of the lingerie market works so well because lingerie, unlike shoes or jeans or scarves, is the fashion of imagination and possibility and, ultimately, romantic hope. It allows you to try on new personas, explore fantasies and even transform your own life story.

All of which is a way of introducing a great new contest idea sponsored by the award-winning UK label Fleur of England.

Designer Fleur Turner is inviting fans to write an original short story that captures the essence of her latest collection, called Heiress. It’s a sophisticated, vintage-esque line in platinum grey satin and embroidered tulle.

The Heiress range was inspired by the Pre-Raphaelite poet and wallpaper designer William Morris, which makes perfect sense for this very painterly brand with a keen sense of “story” behind each of its artistic collections.

But Fleur is more interested in hearing what YOU think is going on in the Heiress’s life. A dilemma involving rival suitors? A tryst with the hunky gardener or a soldier fresh from battle? Or perhaps something a little more E.L. Jamesian?

To help you get over writer’s block, Fleur has supplied an opening for the story — “The Heiress will enchant you with her timeless elegance and grace. She waits composed in her English country mansion …” — but you can probably come up with something better, right?

The winning entry in the Heiress contest will receive £500 worth of the brand’s lingerie, while five runners-up will receive a discount code worth 50% off purchases. Stories should be a maximum of 500 words long and must be submitted by Aug. 8. The winning entry will be published on the Fleur of England blog. Full details of the contest will be posted on the brand’s blog tomorrow.

Now, excuse us while we get started on our entry …

The heiress awoke startled by the sound of the clanging bell on the mansion’s heavy iron gate. Who could be calling in this weather, and at this hour, and with her husband away? She reached for the shimmering silver robe on the bedpost and headed downstairs to find out …

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Brown is the most unloved color in lingerie, and we’ll be damned if we know why.

In the right hands it can create sensuous, earthy garments that hint at old-world decadence and nostalgia.

Still, most brands are loathe to explore the endless possibilities of brunette colorways, yielding instead to a safer, more familiar palette of nudes, naturals and slightly off-color earth tones.

You’ll see brown bras occasionally peeking out from the racks at mall stores, but among fashion brands it’s a shade typically used only in functional everyday basics. Most lingerie designers simply don’t know how to make brown sexy.

Now Fleur of England, the inventive UK luxe brand with an eye for provocative colors, is taking on the brown challenge with a delicious fall collection called Hot Chocolate.

This isn’t a mocha or copper or sunny brown sugar shade, but a deep, luxurious cocoa that is given an extra sheen with hints of aubergine.

As is customary with Fleur’s periodic new collections, the Hot Chocolate set is offered in the brand’s signature bra and brief combinations fashioned from premium silk satin and French leavers lace. There’s also a robe, babydoll and camisole along with a new push-up padded bra (top photo) with matching silk brief.

But the chocolate treatment gets its most mouth-watering showcase in Fleur’s classic boudoir bra and brief set (below), with its inviting bow ties and suggestive lace paneling.

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We’ve seen some lovely brown colorways in recent seasonal offerings from A-list brands like Sarrieri, La Perla and Carine Gilson — which should be an indication that it takes a very high degree of craftsmanship and a refined eye to make this most mundane color both alluring and romantic.

And it’s no surprise that designer Fleur Turner should choose to work with a hue that is both aesthetically challenging a bit of a risk in the marketplace. She’s constantly looking for colors and tones that have an arresting visual impact and are outside the same-old-same-old lingerie paradigm of reds, nudes and black.

Recent collections have seen Fleur flirting with electric blue, bright lemon, saturated purples and berry tones and a memorable range called Naked that offered a new, unexpectedly romantic approach to nude undergarments. She’s also done a brown collection in the past, too — the 2009 Dessert range that paired a deep chocolate satin base with elegant raspberry lace trim.

In each of these cases, the designer brave enough to tackle luxurious brown lingerie knows there is a big payoff for women daring enough to wear it: brown lingerie complements almost any skin tone or complexion and, like nudes, creates the illusion of a second skin.

Fleur’s Hot Chocolate range isn’t meant for summertime consumption, given the seasonal preference for bright colors and lively prints and, of course, the dangers of melting.

It’ll reach shops this fall, just about the time you’re thinking of curling up next to the fireplace with a steaming cup of you-know-what and your favorite companion.

Bring your own marshmallows, and expect some sticky fingers.

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Fleur’s Brighton Beach Memories
Posted by richard | April 14, 2014
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North American fans of the beautiful UK label Fleur of England might not fully appreciate its latest collection, which is a kind of visual tribute to the English seaside town of Brighton.

But it will likely be warmly received by Fleur’s British fans, since almost every Londoner has fond memories of summer holidays spent carousing in the Palace Pier arcades or lounging on swaybacked canvas beach chairs.

Fleur taps into that nostalgia in her Brighton nightwear range by using a broad vertical stripe inspired by the rental chairs that are ubiquitous in Britain’s south coast resort towns.

It’s a simple, universal print and far less decorative than the highly artistic handiwork we normally see from Fleur. But the sight of those nautical stripes will have an almost Pavlovian effect on Brits, who prize both their holiday time and all visual emblems of the empire.

Regardless of their origins, though, Fleur’s iconic stripes will still travel well — Americans can claim it’s an homage to the Hamptons (or Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach) and everyone over here will nod approvingly.

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The Brighton collection is ostensibly a ‘nightwear’ range, but it’s meant for summertime exposure, indoors and out.

There are two bras and two panty styles and a lace-trimmed silk camisole (above) that is much too bold and flattering to cover up.

But the real keepsake in the Brighton line is sure to be the straight-legged silk pyjama trouser. This could be your favorite lounging pant, beach cover-up or simply something to throw on for a stroll along the local boardwalk.

A couple of years ago, the resort town of Bournemouth, west of Brighton, erected a 25-foot-high replica of the iconic beach chair on the promenade as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee anniversary celebrations. Perhaps Brighton and Hove should try to reassert its ownership of the iconic Brighton stripes — by outfitting its lifeguards in Fleur’s latest!

The silk and lace Brighton collection is available online and in numerous retail boutiques, with prices ranging from £50 to £280 ($80-450 USD) for the trousers.

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A Valentine’s Poem From Fleur
Posted by richard | February 2, 2013
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Valentine’s Day awakens the poet in us … or at least it used to, before tablets and tweets zapped the verse out our daily discourse.

This year, though, UK luxury label Fleur of England is hoping to revive the poetry in our souls with a Valentine’s Day contest designed to bring out the Byron in all of us.

It’s pretty simple: write a short, original, romantic poem and email it to info@fleurofengland.com by Feb. 8, then watch to see if your entry gets posted on Fleur’s Facebook page or Twitter feed (some entries have already been posted.)

And the payoff? The winning entry will receive £500 worth of sumptuous goodies from Fleur’s breathtaking new style range called New Rose.

Named for the floral emblem of love and inspired by the classic pink rose, which symbolizes grace, the New Rose collection arrives just in time for V-Day gifting — and for inspiring romantic bards.

The range includes a dozen different pieces that blend French lace, silk satin and translucent silk georgette, with a fair bit of creativity in each individual look. For example, the babydoll gown is a striking new silhouette that marries a lace waist panel with a long A-shaped silk skirt. (There’s also a shorter version in a more traditional babydoll.)

New Rose offers three bra styles (including a luxurious boudoir bra with front tie) and four knickers cuts.

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The most memorable piece in the collection, though, (and this is where your prize money should go!) is the belted silk georgette kimono shown here and in the main above. It’s shorter than most kimonos and boasts a hand-cut appliqué trim and elegant butterfly wing sleeves.

The New Rose range has the look of an heirloom collection, the kind that you pack carefully away and bring out only for the most special occasions — and the most adoring audience.

In fact, don’t be surprised if Fleur’s latest turns you into something of a muse for your beloved … and makes poetry part of your romance all year long.

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