There are many subtle differences between French and American culture, including the way people buy their underthings.
In France, for example, it’s often said (somewhat ruefully) that there are two categories in lingerie: those styles you buy for yourself, and those that your husband buys for his mistress.
And that’s only partly a joke. In the online ballot for the first French Lingerie Awards, sponsored by the retailer Lemon Curve, male voters are asked this question: “Who do you buy lingerie for — you wife, your mother or your mistress?” Voters can check only one answer, which will no doubt present a conundrum for the French president.
(French women are also given a chance to reveal their très jolie side, too. The ballot, which lets the public choose the year’s most popular brand, inexplicably asks women voters how often they leave the house without underwear.)
Little provocations like this might cause a scandal on this side of the pond, but in the laissez faire world of French amours they’re de rigueur.
So frisky are the French, in fact, they even have a lingerie label tailored to the tastes of discriminating mistresses everywhere. We’re talking, of course, about Masion Close, the audaciously erotic fantasy label named after a brothel from La Belle Époque.
Maison Close is renowned for its sheer catsuits, fetish-inspired collars and other barely-there pieces that have no practical value whatsoever as underwear. Not that anyone’s complaining.
The company was named “Boudoir Brand of the Year” at the 2013 UK Lingerie Awards and this year is in the running for “Seduction Brand of the Year” in its home country, where the competition is a bit stronger.
Its chances should be given a big boost with the release of Maison Close‘s Autumn-Winter 2014 collection, which adds half a dozen new style ranges to the brand’s extensive and impressive catalogue.
Most notable is the new Cabaret Smoking range (above), a black-and-white grouping inspired by men’s tuxedos and channeling the gender-bending eroticism and underground club culture of the 1970 film Cabaret.
Sugar daddies who prefer Maison Close‘s signature look will appreciate the satin-and-lace Villa Satine line or the gasp-inducing Villa des Lys range (main photo above) of stretch lace bodywear.
Maison Close also experiments with new technical and fashion directions, but without abandoning its seductive mission, in the Music Hall line that combines black microfiber and sheer swiss-dot mesh, and the pretty Doux Vertige (Dizzy Spell) range of mesh and lace separates in a grey and soft pink (shown below).
There’s always a costumey aspect to Maison Close‘s designs, but that’s part of the fun. Few lingerie brands anywhere have been as successful in creating such hyper-sexual frivolities without coming across as just plain gauche (for a higher-priced version of this type of look, try the burlesque-influenced Italian label Roberto Crescentini).
But the best thing about Maison Close? This very French take on showy boudoir wear is available worldwide. Seduction, it seems, travels well.
Now here’s a look at the new style ranges from one of the world’s most incorrigible lingerie brands.