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Dirty Dozen: 2012’s Best Pinup Calendars
Posted by LT Staff | December 28, 2011

The pinup calendar is such a low-tech relic from the pre-smartphone generation it’s a wonder anyone still makes them — or buys them. Are there really that many college dorm rooms and greasy mechanics’ garages out there?

Maybe it’s their enduring retro appeal, or their sheer kitschy-ness, that makes them a perennial favorite as a (sometimes ironic) holiday gift. Whatever the reason, girlie calendars are still going strong and don’t seem to have much of an equivalent in the world of iPhone apps and ubiquitous online skin.

These days, pinup calendars have become a dependable source of income for busty models hoping to build a brand name and charities looking for an attention-grabbing promotion. But they’re more than that, too.

An artfully conceived calendar can become a powerful promotional tool for a lingerie label — just ask Aubade — and can even stand alone as a cultural touchstone — just ask Pirelli.

With that in mind, we’ve assembled a baker’s dozen of some of the most amusing, artistic and just plain sexy calendars available for 2012. Some ape the vintage style of original post-war era pinup calendars, while others are decidedly more modern.

We’ve skipped the obvious (Sports Illustrated), the perennial retreads (Playboy, Dita, Bettie) and ones we’ve already written about (Secrets In Lace, Zombies) in favor of some of more creative new projects out there.

Nichole De Carle

The Great Britain women’s team has an unfair advantage heading into next summer’s Olympics: they’ve got lingerie designer par excellence Nichole De Carle on their side. That’s synchronized swimmer Jenna Randall above, posing in NDC’s awesome diamond knickers set, as part of a charity calendar to support the medical research organization Wellbeing of Women. 10 UK Olympic hopefuls posed for the calendar, which you can buy from Nichole De Carle’s webshop.

Warbirds Pinup Girls

The 2012 edition of this timeless series is a perfect gift for aviation buffs. Inspired by the wartime nose art that pilots added to their bombers and fighter planes, the Warbirds series manages to seem fresh each year. Buy it here, and check out the rest of their aviation memorabilia.

Vogue Germany

Sorry Pirelli, but THE must-have fashion calendar for 2012 is this gem from German Vogue in partnership with Swarovski Elements. The magazine’s 2012 Horoscope calendar, shot by Lado Alexi, is also one of 2011’s greatest fashion editorial shoots, with each month featuring models representing zodiac signs while wearing embellished garments and undergarments that illustrate their theme. It’s exceptional, but since it came with the current issue of Vogue Germany only, it may be hard to find. You can see the entire series here.

Kelly Brook

Hard to believe, but this perennial favorite of the UK lads’ mags has been putting out an annual swimsuit-lingerie calendar for almost 10 years. Good thing too, because we haven’t heard a lot from Kelly since she ditched modeling for an “acting” career (remember Piranha?) more than a year ago. Find her 2012 calendar here.

Leurre Lingerie

British luxury lingerie label Leurre uses an arty, super-sexy calendar as a way of introducing their 2012 collection. It’s very well done, with more than a passing resemblance to the annual black-and-white calendar from Aubade, which is always a treasured collectible. The Leurre calendar was shot by London studio The Round Peg, and you can buy it here for £10.

Unchained Girls

This Portland, Oregon-based collective of models, artists and performers look like they have a whale of a time doing campy stage shows and photoshoots. You can check out their 2012 classic pinup-style calendar here.

Marco Girolami

The well-known Italian fashion photographer produced the 2012 Mercedes Benz calendar as well as a very inventive Burlesque calendar shown here. We’re not sure where to buy it, but you can at least see the rest of photos on his website.

Passionata

This sexy French label is literally building its brand around super-spokesmodel Bar Refaeli, who now has her own collection with the company. And good news: Passionata’s 2012 calendar, with 12 classically sunny shots of Bar, will be available for free download on their website in January. (Look under the “Goodies” section.)

Swiss Farm Girls

These annual rustic fantasy shoots have turned into quite a cash cow (sorry!) for Magic Fox Media, which also produces the German Farm Girls calendar (below) and a companion German Farm Boys pinup set. Save mega-Euros if you buy all three here.

Biker Chick Pinups

Real women, real bikes, real outfits. This unique project invited female cyclists from the Chicago area to apply for a spot in the 2012 Thought You Knew Pinup Calendar, which supports a community outreach project to get more women cycling (it’s called The Monthly Cycle … get it?). Learn more and see the entire calendar here.

Foxy Hunters

This annual bestseller from UK’s equestrian set actually raises money for air ambulance services. All the models are amateurs, but there’s nothing amateurish about this very cool project, which you can explore here. The bottom photo above is from a companion project, the Country Unclothed calendar, which was included with The Field magazine.

Pinups For Heroes

Pinups For Heroes was set up two years ago to raise money for the Help For Heroes charity, which supports UK soldiers and their families. The 2012 calendar is their third, and it drew more than 300 applicants from would-be models keen to support the cause. Learn more here.

Cofani Funebri

And finally, because we DO get asked about this, a sad update on the annual Cofani Funebri calendar that we wrote about last year. You might recall the Italian coffin-maker created both a scandal and a marketing coup with its 2011 sex-and-death calendar. Cofani DID produce a 2012 edition (that’s a rare image from it above), but it was quickly banned by Italian authorities, who obviously don’t want the rest of us believing that Italians think about sex ALL the time.

If you grabbed one before it was yanked, you probably have an E-Bay bonanza on your hands. Otherwise, you might still be able to get a non-branded version of the calendar from photographer Maurizio Matteucci, who is selling it here. Or you can check out this lame alternative from the Polish coffin-maker Lindner, which actually started this bizarre trend.

Get More LT on LingerieBriefs.com
Posted by LT Staff | December 23, 2011

What an honour! Lingerie Talk was recently invited to join Ellen Lewis‘ smashing new website LingerieBriefs.com as a regular columnist. You can read our first column here, and be sure to get familiar with Ellen’s other contributing writers while you’re browsing the new site.

As most people know, Ellen is a legendary figure in the intimates industry who has contributed to numerous brands in product development, marketing and retail merchandising. Her new and improved website launched yesterday.

Lingerie Talk editor Richard Vincente will author a column titled ‘Intimate Intelligence‘ that will look at political, social and business aspects of the lingerie industry.

As an art form — and it is an art form — lingerie design might be the only creative enterprise that reaches a public audience second-hand, through a camera lens.

Since it’s also a personal consumer product, lingerie spends most of its time in drawers and closets or shared intimately in discreet settings. Only the most determined shoppers ever get a chance to view and appreciate the enormous range of artistic acheivements produced every year by the world’s great intimates designers.

New York editor Patrice Farameh knows that paradox well, and sets out to address it in her new book, Second Skin, a luxurious, boxed edition that explores the erotic art of couture lingerie.

For those who appreciate fashion, art, photography, erotica or any combination thereof, Second Skin makes an edgy statement as a coffee-table book, or an intimate one as a gift for the bedside table.

“Lingerie is the most delicate art in fashion design,” Patrice told Lingerie Talk. “It really is the second skin on a woman.”

In preparing Second Skin (which was released in North America two weeks ago), Patrice consulted with dozens of the world’s premier labels “to show the whole spectrum of what’s really going today in lingerie design.”

Eventually, 40 top labels were profiled in the book, which combines artistic photography, quotes and background information about the brands, their designers and their philosophies.

Included in this who’s who of contemporary lingerie artistry are familiar European names like La Perla and Andres Sarda, along with smaller independents such as UK corset label Eternal Spirits and Australia’s Hopeless. U.S. designers aren’t forgotten either, with Undrest, N De Samim, The Lake and Stars and Jean Yu among the American labels represented.

Second Skin includes a compelling introduction by Lisa Z. Morgan of Strumpet & Pink, and a foreword from the Seven Bar Foundation, the non-profit group that stages luxury lingerie runway shows to raise money to help women entrepreneurs in disadvantaged countries.

And it’s more than just a photography book; Second Skin also tries to understand the erotic appeal of lingerie and its role in how women perceive themselves.

“Where does that alluring power come from, and how does a designer work that magic into each gorgeous flesh-wrapping piece of art?” Patrice asks in the book’s introduction. “I’ve learned that lingerie is only as erotic on the outside as the woman feels on the inside. And the designers [in Second Skin] are incredibly skilled at creating that sense of desire from within.”

Second Skin is published under the Daab Media imprint, and is one in a series of unique luxury books in Farameh’s ‘Curated Collection’ that look at semi-hidden niches in the world of art and culture. (One, called Skull Style, looks at the artistic use of skulls in popular culture and is a must-have for McQueen devotees!)

Second Skin ($85USD) is available now on Amazon and discriminating bookshops. For New York shoppers looking for a last-minute gift item, check out Clic bookstore and gallery, which held a launch party for the book.

If you notice a glint in your lover’s eye these days, it might not just be a twinkle of desire. It could also be the reflection from your dazzling, jewel-adorned undies. Lucky girl!

This season’s offerings from couture lingerie brands have included plenty of bling, as designers test the upper reaches of the market with garments that are as hefty as their price tags.

And we’re not just talking about the $2.5 million Victoria’s Secret fantasy bra — a prop that is rarely worn and never sold.

Back in the real world, luxury lingerie labels are finding more subtle and tasteful ways to decorate their goodies with a bit — or a lot — of sparkle. From Nichole de Carle‘s beautifully understated Diamond collection to I.D. Sarrieri‘s collaborations with Swarovski Elements to the new jewel embellishments from Damaris, you’ll find plenty of ways to add some shine to your boudoir wardrobe this year.

Of course you can go overboard with these platinum-card temptations, too. Agent Provocateur‘s near-mythical Swarovski Playsuit weighed in with a retail price of $25,000, while Harlette‘s diamond-encrusted suspender clasps aren’t far behind at $15K.

Here’s a look at some of the most eye-popping embellished lingerie designs available today; you’ll find plenty more if you shop around. And if you find one of these gems in your stocking on Christmas morning, you’ll know the recession is over!

Pleasure State

The Australian label embraced ornamentation in a big way this year, and their exceptional creations will drive trends in this area next year. Both the PS Couture and White Label collections in the second half of 2011 embraced the theme of ‘Luminescent Treasures‘, with many style ranges incorporating jewels or crystal embellishments. That’s the jewel-trimmed Tiara babydoll below (left) and the Black Diamond corset (right) with tiny Swarovski teardrops.

As if that weren’t enough, Pleasure State created a limited edition holiday set called Crown Jewel (above and main photo), featuring an intricate weave of Swarovski Elements. Alas, it was an exclusive for Aussie retailer Myer.

Nichole de Carle

The high-flying UK designer label threw down the gauntlet, so to speak, with its affordable diamond knickers collection this fall. Each of NDC’s graphic briefs in this collection feature a .10-carat certified Coster diamond on a metallic charm, placed modestly on the rear band. The diamond charm is detachable and can be added to a matching bracelet.

The first issue of this collector’s edition was a Selfridge’s exclusive and featured the White Diamond set above, with the charm in front. Watch for a new edition in January. Seven knicker styles available and — best news — it comes in at a (relatively) bargain-priced £232.

Agent Provocateur

AP’s over-the-top Swarovski Playsuit was featured in the label’s funny Fleurs du Mal video this fall and was the crown jewel in its semi-new Soiree premium lingerie range. At about $25,000, this little number is targeted at the very narrow market that includes Gaga, Rihanna and the TOWIE girls. Unless you’re a Harrods employee — the only place you can buy it — this is as close as you’ll ever get.

Crescentini Private Collection

The Italian luxury line from Cotton Club knows a thing or two about opulent adornment, as this stunning set, called Kalamity, shows. The satin-and-tulle triangle bra has a decorative series of Swarovski-trimmed cross-straps, all for a reasonable €236. But you’ll want the matching thong and suspender belt, both of which have the crystal trim too.

Damaris

Here’s the only endorsement you need for the UK label’s new Chiacchiere line: designer Damaris Evans says this is her favorite design in 10 years of creating nouveau Parisienne pretties for adoring English girls. The range combines black silk tulle and fuschia satin trim, with multi-colored Swarovski jewels framing the cleavage. A masterpiece priced at £240.

La Perla

La Perla’s Crystal Limited Collection is a late-season arrival that caps a brilliant year for both the Italian lingerie brand and Swarovski, which provided the crystal elements. Delicately understated, the crystals are embedded in the tulle triangle bra (£500) and g-string (£200). Watch for this set to arrive on the U.S. webshop soon.

Harlette Platinum Collection

The perfect gift for women who aren’t impressed by glass jewels, Harlette’s $15,000 suspender clasps have a heart-shaped platinum base set with 135 diamonds. Harlette partnered with Aussie jeweler Eskae in 2009 to create these alluring gems, and also offers a bespoke service that will customize them for special orders.

Renowned for its sumptuous creations for Secret Diary of a Call Girl, Harlette this year also unveiled its Couture Glamour gown (above) and matching lingerie in a shimmering metallic fabric. It’s a custom order beginning at £5000, depending on the amount of jewel embellishments you choose.

Maya Hansen

The gifted Spanish corset maker wowed the audience at the Cibeles Madrid Fashion Week this fall with the showstopper from her new Knotted collection — the Crystal Corset. A collarboration with Swarovski, it features 6,000 crystals in various sizes that took more than 100 hours to add. We haven’t found this on sale anywhere yet; maybe Maya’s team is just too tired.

I.D. Sarrieri

Ready to be really dazzled? We saved the best for last with this selection from the 2011 collections by the exceptional Romanian designer. Sarrieri uses Swarovski crystals sparingly and strategically in a handful of style ranges to create very, very dramatic effects. From the top: the one-shoulder silk satin Addicted To Fashion body; the satin Black Temptation line; and the champagne-hued Diamonds Forever set (although those aren’t real diamonds!). You may now swoon.

Best of 2011: This Year, Niki Had The World On A String
Posted by richard | December 18, 2011

Photo: Mise en Cage

It’s a bit kitschy, a little trashy and completely impractical. It was also the most fun you could have in your undies all year.

That’s assuming, of course, that you were lucky enough to pick up one of Made By Niki‘s String bodysuits or anything else from this slinky, slippery, fringe-based collection of bodywear pieces.

Niki McMorrough’s String series, which debuted in late spring, has been selling out in boutiques around the world and turned the smart, fashionable UK indie label into an international phenomenon overnight.

For these reasons and more, we’ve chosen Niki’s String collection as the most memorable lingerie look of 2011.

And we’re not alone in thinking so. The String body was immediately pounced upon by celebrities and fashion photographers this year but — unlike some other over-the-top fashions — it also worked its way into average women’s wardrobes as a splurge item for special occasions and boudoir game-playing.

A couple of things make the String work so well.

First, it’s a completely original look — but with some familiar echoes. Some people see a 1920s-era Flapper reference, others see it as stripper gear. It can create an instant glam-rocker look or, in the right setting, a vintage Middle Eastern vibe (try this at your next belly dancing class!) And some people think it’s swimwear.

Like all of Niki’s work it clings to the body and accentuates natural curves but, more important, all that fringe tingles on bare skin. And, thanks to the use of quick-release clips, it’s surprisingly easy to get into.

Finally, the String isn’t nearly as immodest as it might appear from a distance. There’s a nude liner on most pieces and a variety of matching undergarments that let you create looks that are only as daring as you want to be.

To mark this occasion, Lingerie Talk spoke to Niki (above, with husband/partner Scott) about the String collection and her future plans. You can also see campaign images from the collection here.

Q&A with Niki McMorrough, Made By Niki

Lingerie Talk: Did the success of the String collection catch you by surprise?
Niki: Yes it did. The collection was borne from a collaboration with KT Tunstall and my own playful experimentation with the fabrics. Here at Made by Niki, we all thought the initial prototypes were really cool, but rather unusual, and we weren’t sure if they would be a commercial hit, so we initially only showed buyers ‘for fun’.

How has the response to the String impacted your manufacturing and distribution operations?
One of the biggest highlights of the String collection’s success is that the range is hand-sewn in our Leicestershire countryside studio by 3 talented seamstresses. Whilst demand has meant that we have been crazily busy, it also brings a personal touch to the collection, making it even more special and rewarding to see customers’ feedback and the amazing sales growth.

It is so important for me and Made by Niki to ensure that customers are always provided with something fresh and unique and therefore we also work with one of the UK’s special small lingerie factories as well as creating a seasonal offshore line (Knockout, Feel, Atomic III), working closely with one of the world’s most prestigious manufacturers. It is so important for us to continue to consolidate on these existing relationships and I hope that this shines through in the final product!

Is there a ‘typical’ customer who goes for the String collection instead of more modest lingerie styles?
Not really. The String collection appeals to all kinds of women who love lingerie, fashion, style and culture. It’s very flattering and easy to wear, and definitely has ‘underwear as outerwear’ appeal. It looks equally hot on the beach, in the boudoir or at the club. It has been popular in the UK, USA, Europe, Middle East and Australia.

Customers are using the String pieces in a variety of different ensemble looks and for a variety of occasions. What are some examples you’ve heard about how women are using the String line?
Our customers are constantly telling us about where they wear their String pieces. One customer wears hers at work (in a city trading office!), others at the beach or on holiday, as casual daywear (eg under jeans) or dressed-up evening wear. And it certainly has bedroom appeal because of its stunning looks and the tingling sensation it gives to the wearer.

What celebrity would you like to see in Made By Niki?
Wow – there are so many celebrities who I would love to see in Made by Niki. Recently Naomi Campbell was shot for SOON magazine in the black String body and she looked incredible. Other fans of the brand continue to be Kelly Brook and Daisy Lowe, which is great as both are gorgeous girls with amazing figures and remain their curves! Maybe Rosie Huntington-Whitely or Miranda Kerr? 2011 saw us build relationships with stars such as Lady Gaga and Rihanna so who knows who will be the next celebrity spotted in my creations!

Will the String collection become part of your ongoing catalog? And will it influence future designs from MBN?
Well the String collection originally came about because of my working relationship with KT Tunstall when I designed a series of customised trousers for her tour. I then extended the range and officially launched the debut String collection for AW11. The success of the range has been astounding, especially at Selfridges and ASOS where the Black String Body was an instant sellout. There was so much demand for repeats, but we were determined to keep it fresh and moving forward, so we really had no choice but to design new interpretations for SS12.

The range sold out everywhere so quickly that we had to bring our SS12 launch forward by 3 months to meet demand. The thing is, I love working with this fabric so much, that there is always something new to try out. I cannot wait to show you the new range of String Bras, Knickers and Bodies for AW12.

What does the success of the String line tell you about what women really want, like, feel and yearn for?
Women are definitely getting more adventurous with their lingerie and now see underwear as an essential part of their outfit rather than being buried underneath layers of clothing. The great thing about the String collection is that it has been designed for people to see and truly embraces the trend of underwear as outerwear. A woman wearing it instantly feels confident and sexy which then translates in to their aura and personality – this kind of confidence cannot be truly bought.

What’s next for Made By Niki?
SS12 sees the launch of the Atomic range from Made by Niki which is the culmination of 5 years of constant exploration in to an ever expanding universe of unique lingerie and bodywear. I have continued my quest to find exciting new ways to smooth and slim the body and this starry range is sure to delight!

Obviously we are currently hard at work on our AW12 range entitled ‘Inheritance’ which comes in 3 groups, each inspired by a different aspect of genetic inheritance and human biology. It ranges from thermal base layers called ‘Nucleus’ to burlesque showpieces named ‘Molecules’ and beautifully delicate mille-feuille lingerie creations entitled ‘Membranes’.

Photo Credits (from top): Mise en Cage; Lutterworth Mail; Le Rouge Boutique, Cumbria.

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