Marika Vera aims a bit higher than other independent lingerie designers.
While most brands are content to wrap their customers in seductive underpinnings, Marika wants to actually make sex better. How’s that for a business plan?
In the press material for her holiday campaign video (below), called Eyes Wide Shut, the Mexican designer insists that her objective is to “reinvent foreplay”. And it’s more than just a clever turn of phrase: she really means it.
Marika’s unconventional designs are unlike almost everything else in the lingerie industry and the rapidly evolving world of loungewear. Beautifully draped layers of chiffon, mesh and silk charmeuse featuring sharp asymmetrical slits, hidden zippers and peekaboo cutouts, these are pieces that invite prolonged admiration, exploration and discovery.
And this is all part of the new world of sensuous foreplay that Marika envisions. Boudoir fashions aren’t just shreds of fabric to be tossed in a heap at the foot of the bed when the action starts; they’re an essential part of the ritual prelude of uncovering and revealing that heightens arousal. Anyone confronted with a partner draped in Marika’s designs will feel compelled to linger and appreciate the artistry of the maker and the taste of the wearer, gradually peeling away layers, until there is little choice but to swoon and surrender.
Quite simply, this is underwear for the oversexed — or those who want to be.
Marika Vera has been on a creative tear since the launch of her David Lynch-inspired collection a year ago, a brilliantly curated set that attracted worldwide attention. She followed that with a bridal collection so ridiculously erotic it will not just prolong foreplay but extend honeymoons as well.
Many of her latest creations seem like they were pulled from the designer’s libido, expressions of Jungian animus rooted deeply in history and erotic mythology, and which toss aside the conventional view that sex is something that starts and ends at the bedroom door. The more daring of her customers like to show off Marika’s designs in public, provocatively paired with jackets or skirts and unexpected accessories (like Rihanna, below, wearing a Marika Vera bodysuit and snake combo on the cover of British GQ this month).
This fall, Marika has released two collections that are guaranteed to boost her sizzling reputation: the fashion line Black Orchid, and a new bodywear ranged called Signature, which features sporty, multi-purpose tights, bodysuits and other interesting pieces aimed at the urban youth market.
The Black Orchid line is filled with innovations like the sheer harem-like Lady Orchid “trackpants”; the sumptuous Blue Orchid kimono sweater; the sly Moon Orchid boxer shorts with their naughty backdoor zipper; or the sporty Queen Orchid “track jacket” for anyone who wants to spice up their Olympic viewing parties. And the Shadow Witch silk charmeuse pullover, shown in the main photo above, is a good example of Marika’s not-so-hidden agenda: it features a hidden zipper across the chest that positively demands a lover’s investigation.
Below we’ve put together galleries showing samples from both of Marika Vera’s new lines, which should be on sale by the end of this month. So turn off your iPhones, turn the clocks to the wall, and let the foreplaying begin.
It makes sense that if you were going to design a lingerie set as a tribute to Jane Birkin, it would include almost nothing at all.
That’s exactly what the sensual Mexican designer Marika Vera has done in creating the Birkin Bondage, a barely-there G-string and choker set named for the English singer-actress who set hearts aflame and beds afire back in the 1970s.
This is lingerie in name only; it’s really a role-playing costume piece designed to test the limits of your self-confidence. An outfit, as Marika says, “for the daring bride”. You don’t get much fabric for your buck, but you’ll burn an image into your groom’s brain that will last a lifetime.
The Birkin set is part of Vera’s uniquely erotic summer bridal collection, Hello Eternal Love, which includes 10 silk and chiffon pieces inspired by some of popular culture’s most familiar icons of femininity.
To the casual observer, Jane Birkin might seem a bit out of place among other muses in this collection like Grace Kelly and Jackie O — she was never really a fashion star, her acting career was spotty and her profile outside of France and England was limited. So why was she included?
The answer lies not so much in Marika Vera‘s design aesthetic as in the broader social purpose of her unique label. Over the past three years, Marika has been chronicling the erotic touchstones of modern culture in her lingerie designs, blog writings and marketing materials. She’s as much an archivist, educator and activist as she is a fashion designer; her daring lingerie styles are simply one way of expressing her very libertarian take on human sexuality.
And I like to think she created the ivory bridal bondage set simply because she felt Jane Birkin deserved not to be forgotten.
In a blog post on her website, Marika calls Birkin “an icon in the bedroom”, but that hardly covers her full impact. Slightly androgynous, sexually ambiguous and totally uninhibited, Birkin is credited with doing the first full-frontal nudity in mainstream cinema in Antonioni’s Blow-Up in 1966. But she’s best known for her all-consuming romance with French composer Serge Gainsbourg (above) and as the breathy voice in that song.
Released in 1969, Je t’Aime … Moi Non Plus featured a melody that seemed pulled from heaven itself and a background track of Birkin’s orgasmic moans. It gave censors fits everywhere, was heavily edited to dampen its erotic pulse, and may, ultimately, be the most talked-about song in modern history. A few years later, Birkin and Gainsbourg upped the ante with a nude bondage-flavored photoshoot in Lui magazine; even 40 years later, in a world where “selfies” and home sex tapes are boringly commonplace, the Birkin-Gainsbourg photos have lost none of their phenomenal sexual potency.
For middle-aged guys (like me) who came of age in the early 1970s, Jane Birkin was much more than just a celebrity girlfriend or scandalous headline-hunter. She represented a new kind of woman, in the tradition of Isadora or Mae West or Josephine Baker, a fearless sexual expressionist who felt unconstrained by … anything.
I recall clearly that when Je t’Aime … finally fought its way onto North American airwaves, the world stopped every time it aired as people leaned in to listen closely to Jane’s and Serge’s amours. Je t’Aime … was like a sex education course in three minutes, and a thrilling antidote to the sanitized, air-brushed versions of sexuality that we were fed by contemporary media culture. Like everyone else I knew, I heard that song thousands of times but never dared buy it in case my parents found out!
Jane Birkin isn’t usually considered a feminist standard-bearer, but perhaps she should be. She was one of a handful of artists in the 1970s who dragged eros into the mainstream, challenging censorship laws and compelling people to confront the raw beauty of their passions. In fact, it’s not a stretch to say that boundary-pushing adventurers like Marika Vera (and many others in the lingerie industry) are the direct descendants of Birkin’s tribe.
An “icon in the bedroom”? Perhaps, but an icon of liberation too.
And while she may be best known for her sexual adventures, Birkin also taught us a lot about real amour. Her incendiary romance with Gainsbourg eventually burned itself out after a dozen years (and one child, the superb actress-singer Charlotte Gainsbourg), but Birkin is still active today — recording and performing her deceased lover’s song catalogue, committed to keeping his musical legacy alive. If that isn’t love, what is?
Below are images from the rest of Marika Vera’s bridal line, featuring visually arresting styles named after Grace Kelly, Ava Gardner, Jackie O, Jagger (Mick or Georgia May?), Sophia Loren, Mexican pop star Selena and the enigmatic “Sam” negligee (which I am guessing is named for Coco De Mer founder Sam Roddick).
We should all live so boldly as to earn such a tribute.
If the names Laura Palmer, Dorothy Vallens and Betty Elms still ring a bell for you, then the new lingerie collection from Mexican designer Marika Vera will have you trembling with excitement.
The prodigiously talented Vera has accomplished something quite extraordinary with her 2013 collection called Welcome To The Rabbit Hole: it’s the first full fashion collection of any kind inspired by the cinematic heroines of director David Lynch.
They’re all here, like ghosts that haunt our collective subconscious: Laura, Maddy and Audrey from Twin Peaks, Dorothy from Blue Velvet, both Betty and Diane from Mulholland Drive, Lula and Perdita from Wild at Heart and many more.
From a conceptual point of view it’s unimaginably bold and brilliantly realized; from a fashion standpoint it’s breathakingly sexy and bound to kickstart several style trends next year.
Rabbit Hole is only the third collection from Vera, a true culture vulture who finds inspiration for her futuristic lingerie styles in obscure corners of history. Her last collection of intergalactic threads used 60s’ sexpot Barbarella as its muse.
The new collection, though, is much more ambitious: there are style ranges inspired by no fewer than 14 different women from Lynch’s tangled psyche, and a surprisingly appropriate rabbit-mask accessory from mask-maker Cecilia Lundqvist (Lynch had a weird obsession with rabbits). But don’t worry — Vera has wisely left Lynch’s nightmarish Eraserhead and Elephant Man off her moodboard for this collection.
Those unfamiliar with David Lynch’s work might not understand why this is all so fuss-worthy, so here’s a primer:
The U.S. auteur (Lynch has won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, but never an Oscar) is known for his surreal plots that weave comedy and terror, often in dream-like visions. Dozens of TV shows (Lost, The Killing) and films (Brick, Donnie Darko) owe their existence to Lynch’s off-kilter vision.
He’s made bad films (Dune) and masterpieces (Mulholland Drive) and his ouevre is populated by beautiful heroines who are, for the most part, treated brutally. To this day, Laura Palmer — the murder victim in the landmark TV series Twin Peaks — remains an emblem of corrupted innocence and the price of evil in mundane modern society.
Now, try turning all that into a lingerie collection!
Vera salutes Lynch’s highly visual imagination with some 80s-inspired looks and a vivid color palette in which blood red and soft pink play off against each other.
There’s also a tension here between coquettish innocence and sizzling sensuality. This creates some very dramatic peek-a-boo silhouettes, as in the Audrey Horne collared blouse (demure in front but wide open in the back!), the backless Maddy Ferguson playsuit, or the semi-revealing Annie Blackburn silk chiffon pyjamas.
You’ll also find some looks here unlike anything else on the market: the slinky Perdita Durango sheer skirt-dress, which is held in place only by a choker necklace; and the Renee Madison range which offers a selection of negligee styles meant for layering.
In a very short time, Marika Vera has made a name for herself by creating styles with very daring cutouts and revealing slits. You’ll see that signature in Rabbit Hole in the figure-hugging Betty Elms culotte and its thematic twin, the Diane Selwyn bodysuit with its dramatic deep-V neckline (Betty and Diane were both played by Naomi Watts in Mulholland Drive but that’s all were going to say — it’s one of the great shock endings in all of cinema.)
Finally, a word about Laura Palmer: Vera honors this central figure from Lynch’s canon with an elegant sheer silk shirt in lilac and wine hues, embellished with Swarovski crystal buttons and boasting a high collar, and paired with matching high-waisted briefs. The ensemble captures Laura’s sexy-schoolgirl appeal and, 20+ years after her fictional death, comes across as a touching memorial to an innocent lost.
Because Marika Vera is a thoughtful artist, it’s safe to assume she chose this challenging theme not just for the 80s-retro style opportunities it offered.
The treatment of women in Lynch’s work is always a touchy subject, and the director took a lot of heat from some women’s groups for the gruesome victimization of many of his heroines, especially Dorothy in Blue Velvet. But with this collection, Vera seems to rehabilitate the legacy of these tragic characters, focusing on their enduring sensual appeal and their haunting, one-of-a-kind beauty.
Lynch may torment his women, but Vera adores them.
Marika Vera is carried by luxury boutiques around the world, and pieces from Welcome To The Rabbit Hole will begin arriving in stores next month. Here are images from the collection’s retro-look marketing campaign.
It hardly seems possible, but 2012 will mark the 50th anniversary of Barbarella, the sex-in-outer-space saga featuring an underclad superheroine determined to create intergalactic peace, one orgasm at a time.
Barbarella began as a French comic book and was later turned into a memorably goofy 1968 film starring a very Bardot-esque Jane Fonda. Her iconic go-go-boots-and-plastic-bra ensemble has been a staple of adult Hallowe’en costumes ever since, and it’s inspired more than a few campy lingerie designs over the years as well.
Despite its unabashed silliness, Barbarella became a kind of tongue-in-cheek manifesto for erotic exploration and one of many artistic landmarks that defined the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Unfortunately, today Barbarella is more often viewed as a kitschy cartoon figure than a cultural icon.
This European wonder woman is long overdue for a critical reappraisal and stylistic re-interpretation. And who better to undertake that task than one of the most forward-looking lingerie designers working today?
Marika Vera, the young Mexican designer whose signature label launched last summer, has made Barbarella the central inspiration for her hotly anticipated sophomore collection, called Queen of the Galaxy.
The new set will debut next week at the Lingerie Collective exhibition in London, and will reach stores for the Autumn-Winter 2012 season.
Below are some preview images from Queen of the Galaxy, and you can spot of Marika’s style signatures: overlapping fabrics, daring hip cuts and minimalist lines that are carefully configured to accentuate the body’s erotic contours. A full lookbook and product information will be available next week.
For those unfamiliar with Marika Vera, her sensuous debut range called Venus In Furs was one last year’s most admired and heralded the arrival of a major new design talent. You can read about it here.
We’ll take a closer look at Marika and her Queen of the Galaxy once it reaches the market.
In the meantime, we’ll be busy petitioning the French to find an appropriate way to mark the Barbarella anniversary. Would a national holiday be out of the question?
Marika Vera takes her sensuality seriously.
Not only has the young Mexican designer created one of the most sensuous and erotic luxury lingerie collections of the year, she’s also provided a helpful reading list to keep you amused while lounging around in those gorgeous garments.
You’ll find it on her new website, marikavera.com, under the heading “ABC … Y” — a comprehensive list of books, films, art and other inspirations that are by or about strong and erotically expressive women. From sizzling indie films like 9 Songs and When Night Is Falling to quotes from Germaine Greer and Anais Nin, with plenty of artists, photographers, writers and illustrators thrown in, Marika’s list may be the best catalogue of erotic inspirations you’ll ever find. Start working your way through it and, I guarantee, winter will pass unnoticed this year.
And you’ll discover the same kind of intoxicating sensuality in Marika’s debut lingerie collection, Venus In Furs, which will reach stores this fall. It’s stunningly pretty and very purposeful. These pieces are meant to inspire erotic adventures, and many come with discreet overlay openings to, in Marika’s words, “give a lover full access.”
Marika works mainly with monochrome colorways and minimalist lines, but most of her pieces include creative and unexpected detailing: an elasticized satin waistband on the Lena silk knickers, for instance, or the snap crotch on the gorgeous taupe Bella teddy (above). There’s a lovely silk dressing gown called Sam with surprising detachable leather trim and an incredibly revealing ankle-length silk kimono called Cecilia which seems to involve a lot of fabric but very little coverage.
Marika’s signature piece, though, probably won’t come from her lingerie range. Instead, it’s the unique silver chain necklace Ana, with gold plate, pearls and leather embellishments. You can see it in the photo above, paired with the Avigail high-waisted (and snap-crotch) culotte in an NSFW look with a heart-stopping impact. You just know that stylists and editorial photographers are going to love this.
Venus In Furs — named for an 1870 erotic novel of the same name — is a bold and extremely confident debut from a young designer with an impressive CV. Although she’s from Mexico, Marika studied in Australia and later at the Istituto Marangoni in London, where her graduate collection earned her a job with the Paris fashion label Vanessa Bruno (you’ll see a lot of the Bruno influence in Marika’s aethestic).
In 2009 her swimwear collection was showcased at Cannes during Mare di Moda, which led her to design gigs with fashion-forward UK brand Yes Master and the swim label Barocco Jade.
And just how confident is the 29-year-old Marika about her eponymous new label? Well, anyone who uses “better than naked” as her slogan certainly isn’t shy about her prospects!
Venus In Furs will reach market in October at some luxury boutiques in Mexico as well as the Lingerie Collective in London. Online, it will be available through the designer showcase NotJustALabel.com. (And don’t be shy about asking your favorite luxury boutique to import MV!)
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some reading to catch up on …