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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.

Lasting Impressions: The Best Lingerie Looks of 2011
Posted by richard | December 15, 2011

Trying to choose the best lingerie item of the past year is like walking into Jacques Torres and buying just a single truffle. It could be done, I suppose, but why? With so much to choose from, self-denial seems pointless.

And so it goes with the rapidly evolving world of fashion lingerie, loungewear and accessories.

Once again, Lingerie Talk offers a curated selection of the year’s most memorable designs and innovations from the world’s most exciting labels. You’ll find big brands and one-person indie labels on our list, and a product range that includes classically romantic silks and laces, sinister-looking belts and chains and hallucinatory, out-of-the-box inventions that will take your breath away.

We call our best-of list “Lasting Impressions” because, ultimately, that’s what a great lingerie ensemble does: leaves behind a glowing imprint on the soul of both the wearer and anyone fortunate enough to see her this way. These aren’t just undergarments, they’re transformational fashions. Just imagine what any one of these piece would do for you.

This list is the first in a series of articles we will be posting over the next week that looks at developments in lingerie design, marketing and culture over the past year. Some memorable pieces that you don’t see on this list will appear later in the series.

The criteria for choosing the 30+ pieces below were strictly subjective, although we tend to favor the imaginative over the predictable. Otherwise, lingerie, like beauty itself, is in the eye of the beholder.

Finally, today’s list omits one name — our choice for the most memorable lingerie creation of the year. We’ll profile that designer and that item — can you guess? — in a special feature tomorrow.

La Perla

The reinvention of the iconic Italian brand was THE big story of the past year, and La Perla delivered with a stunning parade of new collections that ranged from vintage to modern, elegant to casual and everything in between. This set, from the Femmes Fatales series, uses Chantilly lace and silk satin to create a look that marries the past and the future. Bring it on!

Agent Provocateur Home

Ignore the girl in the photo, the real winners here are those oyster pink silk sheets. AP offered the year’s biggest surprise with its Home collection of sumptuous bed linens which, fittingly, look great as a backdrop for the rest of your AP wardrobe.

Zinke

Ladies, take it from a guy: those hook-and-eye front closures are crazysexy. The Bright Lights bralet is from Zinke’s gem-packed Souvenir collection, 2011’s most memorable and complete range from an American indie label.

Gilda & Pearl

How remarkable is this? The small Scottish label produced one of the year’s masterpieces — the see-through Lorelei kimono in gold French leavers lace and satin. Yes, gold! Must be seen and touched to be believed. Available in chartreuse and azalea pink colorways. Take a bow, G&P!

Intimissimi

New Rule: Italy must send one of its great lingerie labels to North America as compensation for what they did to Amanda Knox. We pick Intimissimi. This lacy gem is from the new SS2012 collection which, alas, you still can’t buy over here.

Jean Paul Gaultier for La Perla

Gaultier’s second collection for La Perla was endlessly amusing, with one memorable style after another, plus an equally dazzling swimwear line. This cabaret-style chemise shows JPG’s sense of humor as much as his unerring fashion chops.

VPL

The trendsetting New York label is pushing into RTW fashion and accessories in a big way, but they’re taking their graphic, color-blocked power-underwear signatures along for the ride. This bodysuit is from VPL’s fall line, which showed the label evolving brilliantly.

Lonely by Lonely Hearts

The consistently imaginative New Zealand label creates fashion-forward lingerie looks that are meant to be shown off in layers with the brand’s clothing pieces. This is from last spring’s Time Bandits series, featuring a Lonely cutout body perfectly paired with a sheer lace shift dress.

Ell and Cee

The year’s biggest hit for this UK independent wasn’t one of their fashion-forward lingerie pieces, it was the Morocco Maxi dress with the jeweled, deep-V neckline. One of the year’s most beautiful prints.

Stella McCartney

The Irene Gardening floral print longline bra was one of Stella’s prettiest items of the year. Stella says she’s coming out with “near-invisible” lingerie next year. I hope that doesn’t mean the end of charming looks like this.

Absolutely P&#244m

Parisian designer P&#244m Sevestre had hands-down the year’s best debut collection, marrying classical French style with some very modern and daring silhouettes like the devilish Lily high-waisted brief/cincher shown here. As the saying goes, this is one to watch.

Mint Siren

The directional UK label had a wildly inventive year that included delicate ecru undies, a 60s-inspired suede fringe poncho and this human-hair-and-harness ensemble.

Wundervoll

This German label ignores trends, and produced collections this year in bronze, brown and gray colorways with distinctive, futuristic silhouettes. This is their silk jersey Stardust Jumpsuit with dramatic plunging neckline.

The Lake and Stars

How does this clever New York label promote its message of individuality and self-expression? With a wonderful, limited edition series of tanks and undies from their spring collection, imprinted with the designers’ own fingerprints. A point well made.

Intenzioni

Intenzioni is still the new kid on the lingerie block in Italy, but you know the big labels are watching them closely, and jealously. This peach gem is from their fall line Dolce Vita.

Agent Provocateur

We could have put a dozen amusing inventions from the erotic superbrand on our best-of list — that’s how good a year AP has had. We’ll settle for just one that shows their flair for the unpredictable: the flesh-tone Lucienne babydoll and pinafore. Yes, they made a freakin’ pinafore!

Marika Vera

These beautifully cut, high-waisted silk chiffon Alex knickers come in a color called “passion red” and are meant to give your legs an elongated look. So you’ll look taller lying down? Whatever, this gorgeous new label from Mexico is red-hot in every way imaginable.

Veronique Branquinho for Marie Jo L’Aventure

VB, the design head for luxury handbag label Delvaux, created this superb, structured emerald/black range for Marie Jo after studying Renaissance nudes. But don’t be fooled by that: with its sharp tailoring and subtle use of control panels, you’re looking at the future of foundations, not the past.

Shell Belle Couture

Many labels released vintage-inspired collections this year. The decadent art deco, Broadway Empire-inspired Smoke and Mirrors range from UK designer Michelle Blenkinsopp was easily our favorite.

Kriss Soonik

The Estonian designer gave us many fun, colorful and super-original pieces this year. But we keep coming back to the Diana patent wrap and matching Liisi velour bloomers.

I.D. Sarrieri / Sonata

Seems every lingerie label had a lace bodysuit this year, not that we’re complaining. These were two of the most memorable, from two of the world’s most gifted and artistic indie designers: the long-sleeved Ava from Romanian Sarrieri (left) and the sweet Blossom with floral pattern from Lithuania’s Sonata.

Unforeseen Circumstances

Can a light, open-weave linen garment really work as underwear? Of course not. But as a layering piece it looks awesome, as the recent Santa Fe-inspired range from this smart NYC indie label proved.

Eres

The French swim and lingerie giant is a trendsetter in both modern fabric use and simple, structured design. The V-cut décolletage on the lace Pandora body, from their spring collection, is a great example of how Eres transforms an ordinary garment into a contemporary classic.

Mimi Holliday

If every woman in the world wore Mimi’s delectable confections, there would be no war, no poverty, no hunger and no recession; we would all be eternally in love. This is the new fluorescent colorway in Mimi’s Panna Cotta series. Try to ignore the brutal photoshopping on the cleavage.

Lascivious / Fraulein Kink

This collaboration between the award-winning UK directional label and the German purveyor of erotic accessories was a thrilling surprise. It combines a playsuit/dress by Lascivious with an ornamental chain, belt and cuffs set from FKink. (Lascivious’ lemony NSFW Tuuli range was another of the year’s highlights, but there’s only so many prizes to go around!)

Fortnight

Canada’s unstoppable indie darling makes lifestyle lingerie that looks and fits like your favorite swimsuit. Which is a shame, because no one will ever want to go skinny dipping again. This buttery beauty is the Mary Jane body from Fortnight’s second collection.

Maya Hansen

The artistry of the Spanish corset maker seems to have no limits. Among several startling, original collections this year was her Queens of Spain series of corsets and dresses digitally imprinted with Renaissance portraits, and worn famously by Lady Gaga. An exceptional artistic statement.

Damaris

Always full of surprises, Damaris brought out the jeweled, silk tulle Pannetoni line in poppy pink this fall. Bright, simple, unforgettable.

Fleur of England

The tireless Fleur is a wizard with color and produced several memorable silk ranges in 2011, including the Iconic collection, which made black silk seem new. This image shows another side of Fleur, the very contemporary Electric blue range.

Jenna Leigh

The unlined wireless Tremblant bra offers a fetching eyelet pattern and a tiny mint bow in front. From the New York designer’s spring collection of styles inspired by foreign destinations.

Cotton Club

The Italian luxury label produced a wonderful set of very romantic wraps and coverups, including the lovely Fargo poncho shown here. The fingerless Providence gloves make for nice matched set.

Myla

This big, billowing tulle skirt added to Myla’s popular Nicole range reminds us that a boudoir can also be a performance space. At least it should be.

Thais Gusmao

And now for something completely different: a lingerie collection inspired by traditional chef’s uniforms, courtesy of the Brazilian brand best known for its erotic offerings. Funny, clever and (dare we say it?) saucy.

La Lilouche

This DIY indie label is growing like crazy and winning hearts around the world. Colorful and kittenish looks in some very original silhouettes. This is the sheer chiffon Poppy English Rose silk cami and briefs with pompoms. Meow!

Maison Close

The Rue des Desmoiselles catsuit was just one of many shocking erotic gems from this unabashed French label. Is it just me, or is getting really hot in here?

It’s been a great year for dead people, especially the sexy ones.

There’s been no end of casting calls thanks to True Blood, The Walking Dead and countless other productions. Zombies are finally breaking through on the literary scene (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, among others). And, as anyone who has seen the new Twilight can tell you, the sex is pretty intense, too.

And now — you knew this was inevitable — comes the first all-zombie swimsuit calendar, with drooling fanbase to match.

The Year of the Dead 2012 Swimsuit Calendar is partly gross, partly funny and — no surprise here — a viral hit among the kind of people who are easily infected. If you have a bikini lover on your Christmas list with a warped sense of what’s sexy, this could be the hit gift of the season.

The TYOTD calendar sprung from the wormy brain of Boston-area photographer Rocky Calsetta last March “while driving around”. Rocky contacted pal Shane Rausch, a makeup artist, and eventually recruited video producer Josh Esan and producer-model Nichelle Hosey to the team. The calendar’s models were mostly friends of the crew with lots of patience and a good sense of humor.

The team eventually worked with half a dozen makeup artists, and the models were required to spend six hours at a time in the makeup chair, covered in latex and fake blood.

The self-financed project also faced some unusual obstacles: during one photo shoot on a residential street, neighbors called the police when they saw Miss September walking around covered in blood and with entrails spilling out.

“The minds behind this calendar are all minds that grew up on a steady diet of horror movies and art,” Rocky told Lingerie Talk. “If anything, we did it for the love of both of those things.

“Before we knew it we had this living, breathing project and then it began to take on a life of its own,” added Rocky (who apparently is also a master of irony).

“My intention from the start was to create something that came with beauty and hideousness and, judging from the reactions we have gotten, I was successful. But it is all in the viewers’ perception.

“This could just be another calendar that exploits women’s bodies, a piece of fantasy horror, a crude joke or just a demented work of art.”

Whatever you think of it, the TYOTD calendar has the makings of a hit. So far, it’s spawned a series of companion posters and T-shirts, a few contests, and some fun behind-the-scenes videos.

Next up for the TYOTD team is production for a 2013 lingerie calendar, which will shoot in January and which promises to include some “guests” from the entertainment industry.

Fans of the underdressed undead can help pay for all this fun by contributing to a Kickstarter project that will finance next year’s production. No word yet on whether any couture lingerie labels have come forward to sponsor the project.

In the meantime, you can pick up a copy of the 2012 calendar here for $20, a discounted price given that the new year is almost upon us and, let’s face it, those girls aren’t getting any fresher.

Now, here’s a few more promo shots from this ghoulish enterpise!

An Aussie Christmas: 12 Days of Undies
Posted by LT Staff | November 22, 2011

Western traditions tend to get a bit screwed up when reinterpreted and repurposed Down Under. Take, for example, this year’s Christmas commercial from the big Aussie underwear label Bonds.

The energetic one-minute take on the holiday chestnut “12 Days of Christmas” finds some novel ways to promote Bond’s skivvies, even if some pieces don’t quite work.

For starters, there’s the vocals by Jack Ladder, a Nick Cave soundalike gifted with an end-of-the-world baritone that is better suited to funeral wakes than holiday albums. Imagine Tom Waits doing “Rudolph” and you’ll get the picture.

And what’s going on with those “8 maids a-milking”? Or the “4 calling birds” in their cycling gear?

Still, Aussies will have lots of fun debating their favorite pieces in this slick production, especially since Bonds has sliced it up into a dozen 10-second clips that will bombard the airwaves for the next month.

But the most incongruous moment in the ad comes at the end, with supermodel Rachel Taylor sitting in a tree eating fruit from a can. Anyone can tell that’s not a partridge in a pear tree; it’s a peach in a gum tree.

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