Marie Yat: Deconstructed Androgynous Lingerie

Marie Yat SS!6-5

It’s rare when a lingerie brand makes a debut that is so distinctive, so unexpected, that you just know they’re going to be big. Marie Yat is an exciting new label that blends the line between lingerie and unisex underwear, creating androgynous pieces that are sleek and sophisticated. Designs are deconstructed to promote a sense of individuality, with perfectly imperfect details such as ripped bindings, graphic cutaways, and asymmetrical piecework. The result is a collection that has fantastic crossover appeal.

Marie Yat’s SS2016 collection is crafted in cotton and silk jersey on circular knitting machines, creating seamless pieces that mold to the body like second skins. Soft, breathable, and comfortable, the entire collection is designed with ease of wear in mind. Ribbed textures also play with opacity and sheen, depending on the garment, in a really interesting way. The salmon pink Luii silk chemise, for example, lets every curve of the body show through, while the Kiuu brief definitely has a tighty-whities look.



Designer Yat Wei Yeung Maria explores how neglected details add allure and interest. The deconstructed quality of the pieces makes for really dynamic silhouettes. The Gtang silk thong has dropped bindings that cup the bottom in a nod to jock straps, yet is elegant enough to read high fashion. There are slivers of raw edges on bra tops that add unexpected texture. Cutaways on the hips of briefs are both refined and slightly rough. This incorporation of masculine details on pieces designed for women is a hallmark of androgynous lingerie. It all comes together in a showing of strength and sensuality.

The photoshoot is exceptionally well-executed and surprisingly intimate. I love that the campaign is refreshingly female gaze-focused. These women aren’t there for male pleasure, they’re there for their own pleasure. I get the sense these are photos shot specifically for women, so women can virtually step into the frame in an empowering way. The resulting photos are multifaceted, a wonderful dichotomy of soft and strong, fierce and feminine, erotic and ambivalent. These are women who are living, not just modeling lingerie. And it’s really wonderful to see.

While Marie Yat is based in London, Maria is a Hong Kong native where the collection is produced. Pieces will be available for sale in early November. Prices will range from around $30-$125 for underwear, and $80-$300 for loungewear. While a size chart is not yet available, pieces will be available in XS-L.

Marie Yat SS16-24

Marie Yat SS16-23

Marie Yat SS16-21

Marie Yat SS16-22

Marie Yat SS16-18

Marie Yat SS16-17

Marie Yat SS16-12

Marie Yat SS16-13

Marie Yat SS16-14

Marie Yat SS16-8

Marie Yat SS16-6

Marie Yat SS16-7

Marie Yat SS16-4

Marie Yat SS16-3

Marie Yat SS16-2

Marie Yat SS16-1

Marie Yat SS16-9

Marie Yat SS16-11

Marie Yat SS16-10

Marie Yat SS16-19

Marie Yat SS16-20

Marie Yat

 What do you think of Marie Yat’s debut collection? Would you try any of these pieces? Are you a fan of androgynous lingerie?

Mad Mimi Form

Laurie
Laurie Shapiro

Laurie Shapiro is the former owner and designer of the luxury lingerie label, Toad Lillie. Based in Seattle, WA, she now helps lingerie businesses engage their customers through brand communications and social media.

21 Comments on this post

  1. Ms. Pris says:

    Based on your descriptions, I have to admit I was expecting something a little more interesting.innovative. There are only a few interesting pieces that I see (the standouts in this set of photos are the colorblocked pieces with the heavy, encased band on the bra, but the knickers in that set are a joke in terms of actual wear.) Several of these pieces are identical to discount-store “lounge/sport bras” found everywhere in the US. And again, with the “androgynous”. These pieces are minimalist and different, but if they were androgynous, I would expect to see some people other than women wearing them.

    Then, there’s this: ” I love that the campaign is refreshingly female gaze focused. These women aren’t there for male pleasure, they’re there for their own pleasure. They are claiming and using their sexuality for their own needs. ”

    It’s really hard to see these photos as “female gaze focused” when so often the faces (and gazes) of women are missing from the photos. In 18 out of 23 photos, the woman’s face is left out of the photo. In 4 out of the remaining 5 photos, the model’s eyes are closed. This, along with the tight focus on body parts and the implied lesbian sex, is pretty much the definition of catering to the male gaze. These visual scenarios seem primed for a man to step into them.

    One thing I do like about the photos: the skin textures on the models are not airbrushed away. I like that there are visible skin textures, stretch marks, and even pillow wrinkles.

    I’m honestly surprised that this piece met TLA’s editorial standards.

    • Laurie Laurie says:

      Thanks so much for commenting, Ms. Pris. While I read these photos as empowering, I can absolutely see your point of view that they may be read by others as catering to the male gaze. I personally found the line a refreshing change of pace, and appreciate the blurring between lingerie and unisex underwear. Labeling lingerie “androgynous” can be tricky and is definitely subjective. We’ve tackled that conversation here on TLA. Rose wrote an excellent article on the subject you might enjoy: http://www.thelingerieaddict.com/2015/04/what-is-androgynous-lingerie-anyway.html. Again, thank you for sharing your perspective!

    • Liz says:

      As a queer woman, I’m interested to know why you define “implied lesbian sex” as catering to the male gaze?

      • Ms. Pris says:

        Hi Liz! I’m also queer. I see the implied lesbian sex as catering to the male gaze for these reasons:

        – Faux-lesbian sex is a common theme in porn aimed at heterosexual men. In fact it’s categorized as “straight” porn.
        -The pornified pose (naked butt in the air). Since these are not swimsuits, there’s really no point in the tan line pic except titillation.

    • Liz says:

      I guess I would also add that I find the convention of “locking eyes with the camera” far more in line with the idea of inviting someone to join in and far more exploitative of lesbian sexuality. The women in these shots are not looking at the viewer in the way I’m used to seeing in lingerie shoots showing a clearer influence from porn. It was certainly a bit vague and overwrought to say that they’re “claiming and using their sexuality for their own needs” but I just can’t agree with this critique either. It’s a super hot shoot, but I don’t necessarily see a problem with that.

      • Ms. Pris says:

        Just to clarify my comment: In terms of art and photography critique, a woman looking directly at the viewer is considered to be subverting the male gaze by making her own gaze and attention central to the image and narrative. This is in contrast to women who are posed passively or as objects, submitting to the male gaze (eyes down, closed, or missing.)

        • Laurie Laurie says:

          I’m really enjoying your comments, Ms. Pris, and this open dialog about “gaze”. Thanks again for contributing!

        • It’s also frequently argued that when women are posed with other women in homoerotic imagery, that the gaze outward is an invitation to the heterosexual male. These images are undoubtedly erotic, but are they passive? Several of these closed eye images strike me as anything but. They appear ecstatic or inwardly focused. On the brand’s website there are further images of women spooning one another which, to my queer eyes, look genuinely intimate and romantic. I certainly think there are things to criticize here, but personally, I see a lot of value in these images as well. It is nice to see a lookbook featuring entirely women of color, and I am curious if the designer is a woman of color as well.

          And for my part, I like the lingerie (especially the asymmetrical pieces). I expect the word androgynous is used because these styles incorporate elements and materials that are typically associated with undergarments for men(ribbed jersey, wide waistbands, faux jockstraps). Androgynous is a fairly broad term and I do not think it is improperly applied here.

          • Liz says:

            My thoughts exactly technicolour lover! Obviously everybody is going to respond to images their own way but I find the lack of focus on inviting the viewer in with eye contact refreshing. My #1 pet peeve in terms of queer imagery in lingerie shoots is when the women aren’t even looking at each other because they’re too busy making bedroom eyes at the camera!

        • Cora Cora says:

          I think one of the questions we’re hinting at here is what does the female gaze look like, and to be specific, how do you recognize or identify the erotically-focused female gaze? For obvious reasons, I’m reluctant to define the female gaze as one devoid of eroticism or sexuality (not that I think anyone’s doing that there), and I’m just as reluctant to say that photographs of the body (or body parts) in erotic situations is enough, in and of itself, to qualify as the male gaze. It’s also true that the definition of ‘erotic’ differs person to person, as it should.

          From an editorial perspective (referencing your previous comment where you said that this piece doesn’t meet TLA’s editorial standards), I believe there’s value in exploring, questioning, critiquing, and offering potential examples of what that female gaze might look like – especially in an industry so firmly oriented around the male gaze. While many of TLA’s editorial guidelines are very clear, these guidelines do not extend into deciding what my writers should or should not find erotic, sensual or provocative, whether that’s from an artistic perspective, a personal one, or otherwise. Laurie and I discussed this segment of her article prior to publication, and while I do believe there’s room to critique Marie Yat’s lookbook (as there’s room for critique on every lookbook) or even Laurie’s perspective, I see no editorial conflicts in allowing my writers to discuss their own perceptions of what qualifies as strong, erotic, or feminine. It is, however, a conversation which is perfectly suited for the comments…exactly as is happening now.

          Thank you for sharing your perspective and starting a discussion.

  2. Liz says:

    I love this! I love TLA and everything it does but my preference is generally for lingerie with simple fabric and innovative shapes rather than the silk and lace a lot of the writers here favour. Also, I have some back/gut pain issues, an active lifestyle, and relatively small breasts, meaning heavily structured underwear doesn’t generally suit my needs. I’m super excited to see this kind of thing. Thanks for sharing such a great find.

    • Laurie Laurie says:

      I’m so glad you liked the collection, Liz. It’s great to see independent brands like this offering more choices. Thanks for stopping by to comment!

  3. Annmarie says:

    Images are important, but what I really wish is that the sentences following this one: “The Gtang silk thong has dropped bindings that cup the bottom in a nod to jock straps, yet is elegant enough to read high fashion.”
    Read something like…
    “The designer is offering this thong as well as two other styles with a wider cut at the bottom, aiming at a variety of personalities and clientele. She also likes to tell the story how a trans woman she had consulted with helped her design a much more comfortable bralette.”

    Oh, and that camisole with long garters is something I’ve been looking for years.

  4. wendybien says:

    I would have characterized this as a brand with a minimalist aesthetic, with SOME product lines that borrow traditionally masculine materials/constructions/details resulting in an androgynous vibe. I can appreciate the playful interplay of those elements traditionally feminine (indeed so traditional they are now better described as vintage) elements like garters and the wide underbust band with triangular cutout in the set seen in the top photo. So it doesn’t seem too much of a stretch for Laurie to categorize it this way, but overall, if I were talking, as I often do, to queer or trans friends who express a desire for lingerie that is really NOT AT ALL femme-y, I would not steer them towards this brand… Yes they might find one or two pieces but they wouldn’t have a whole lot of choices at the zero girliness end of the spectrum. Basically in my mind it does overall lean very feminine, albeit in this very clever, minimalist way. I guess you could say I feel it flirts with androgyny but doesn’t really commit to it ;-)

    In terms of the photography and the way the shoot is staged I feel like there is a mix of images that are open to interpretation as “not geared to the male gaze” as well as images that are functionally indistinguishable from common lingerie shoot imagery (albeit more small indie handmade brand than Victoria’s Secret). In that regard, I can see why Ms Pris felt it was appealing to the male gaze, insofar as it doesn’t really make any strong statements to the effect that it is NOT appealing to the male gaze.

    I also have to admit it reminds me quite strongly of American Apparel ads and that alone (unfairly, I suppose) really turns me off. I think if I saw the pieces in store or on a runway I would probably be a lot more excited about them.

    • Cora Cora says:

      I like this exploration of the minimal feminine vs. the androgynous, and I wonder if this gets at the concept of androgyny as a fashion choice vs. androgyny as an identity.

      • wendybien says:

        Perhaps? Even just in the fashion realm, I feel like there is also a variety of contrasting ways to approach the concept of androgyny… This designer seems to have chosen the path of mixing a rich variety of “feminine-marked” and “masculine-marked” elements in her creations, whereas others prefer to try to pare away as many of the obviously “gendered” elements as possible. The challenge of this choice of mixing lots of masculine and lots of feminine elements is that in fashion in the Western world, we already have an almost century-old tradition of incorporating menswear themes into women’s apparel, so many of us are kind of inured to that and don’t really register them as substantially other-than-feminine. So a designer needs to really work hard to make the gender-boundary-crossing legible.

  5. Annmarie says:

    Laurie should be noted for presenting a very different lingerie line from those she covered here in the past. And she wasn’t shy from addressing the related social and identity issues that both the garments and the images may evoke.

    For me the first two images were bold and signaled something different. I think that associating them with the headline had already made me feel I was already somewhere in the queer realm. I was a bit surprised when I first saw what I interpret as the 2 or 3 lesbian-implied images, as I felt the point was already made.

    It was interesting revisiting the images after reading the comments. They are all well and certainly feel “different.” I get the introspection some have mentioned, though I think Wendybien was right to state that that some of them are “open to interpretation as “not geared to the male gaze”.”

    Laurie was right to state, “Labeling lingerie “androgynous” can be tricky and is definitely subjective.” I may be wrong but it seems to me like with one exception all other commenters on this post are female-born who are also referring to “queer” exclusively in that context. It does make sense while appearing in a lingerie blog, though I still wish the term “queer” would be broader even in this field.
    That said, this blog always felt welcoming and accommodating.

  6. Maddi says:

    i think that these are really cool, but there is no way my DD breasts will fit in any of these pieces :/

  7. Josephine says:

    There is absolutely zero that is androgynous about any of these pieces.

  8. Iris Carvalho Rebelo says:

    I just love it

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