FRKS Lingerie are an indie brand based in Hungary that have been on my radar for quite a while now – their psychedelic colour palette and insanely intricate hand-embroidery caught my attention in the best possible way. I’d been planning to purchase my own set for quite a while, so when I was offered the opportunity to review a set I jumped at the chance. After all – who doesn’t want wolves and stars adorning their bottoms?
I was sent the ‘Howling Wolf’ Panty and ‘Night Wolf’ bralet in sizes Medium and 32C respectively (I normally wear a UK12 and 30D). The panties are available in sizes XS-XL and the bralet in sizes 30-38 A-C. All garments are made to order so it may be possible to have sizes outside this range created if you message Zsofi through her Etsy shop.
Both the bralet and the panties are made of a soft stretch mesh, with a lining in areas that feature embroidery for a more comfortable feel against the skin. The bralet includes panels of both blue and black mesh, with soft elastic edging and a racer-back shape. Straps are made of satin elastic and feature black enamelled adjustable sliders. There is intricate embroidery on the centre back panel, with motifs of a wolf, night sky and trees adorning it.
As much as I adore this bra design, I’ve had to admit defeat – the shape just doesn’t work for me. The cups are quite far apart for a bralet, and I found that whilst I could manipulate my breast tissue comfortably into the cups when I put it on, once I actually started to walk around and do things, my breasts fell out of the cups and into the centre. It’s a real shame, as if the cups were just a couple of centimetres closer together this would be an ideal fit – the underband is comfortably firm and the cups offer good coverage and light support. It just doesn’t work for my body shape! Fit issues aside, this bralet is extremely well made, with secure stitching all round. I’m particularly struck by the skill within the embroidery – it’s deliciously intricate, and isn’t distorted or stretched out of shape when the bra is on the body. The use of mesh lining on the embroidery panels also means you cannot feel it against the skin – which I must admit, was somewhat of a concern when I first saw these designs!
The knickers, however, I simply cannot fault. The embroidery is exquisite – quirky and cute, and beautifully executed. Once again, a mesh lining means that the garment is still soft against the skin without any irritation from knots or bulky embroidery stitching. As with the bralet, the knickers are very well made – all of the stitching is secure and neat. They’re a good fit, sitting low on the hips and have quite a cheeky cut on the bottom. The gusset is also nicely wide and they’re wonderfully comfortable.
I absolutely adore all of the tiny details on the knickers, embroidery aside – the double elastic trim across the centre front gives a nice graphic effect, whilst the tiny tassel trim and bow-tied peephole at the centre back give a cheeky finish. The bow also has the benefit of giving some fit flexibility.
Overall, I am totally in love with these FRKS Lingerie designs – they’re so unusual and innovative. I’d love to see more indie designers trying new techniques such as hand embroidery in their garments. I must admit though that I personally believe that FRKS Lingerie is massively undercharging for her work – there’s no way that this embroidery isn’t massively time consuming and requires a lot of skill. If the bra shape was tweaked only slightly, this set would be perfect – and I’m certainly hoping to add more of the knicker designs to my lingerie collection!
Readers – what do you think of FRKS Lingerie’s designs? What do you think of embroidery on lingerie?
I’ve never had the best experiences with one-piece lingerie styles – my body shape is a little unusual by most Fashion standards, so finding one that fits has always been a bit of a challenge. Nevertheless, my love of beautiful lace cannot be denied – so when Salua Lingerie offered this gorgeous ‘Monarch Butterfly’ romper from their SS14 collection for review, I was smitten. I love the mix of opaque silk with the delicate appliquéd eyelash lace trim – the placement is unusual and frames the body beautifully.
Salua Lingerie isn’t a brand I’m particularly well acquainted with – their designs don’t seem to have made it over to Europe and I’ve only ever seen a handful of photos online. Originally founded in 1993 in Colombia, its designer has since moved to Seattle, though production remains in South America. Their style is very classically feminine and romantic, with its all white-colourway carrying a very Bridal feel. I was sent the Monarch Butterfly romper in a size medium (I normally wear a UK10/12). It is available in sizes XS-XL and retails for $174, made of stretch silk satin and soft eyelash lace.
Photo by Karolina Laskowska
The romper is made of panelled stretch silk satin with appliquéd eyelash lace. It has a very soft fit, with an unstructured bust and loose French knicker style fit on the bottom half. Legs are cut very high and give a flattering fit. There’s elastication at the waist and the centre back, to help cinch in the garment and give a better fit on a range of body shapes. There straps are made of silk with gold toned adjusters. The construction is sturdy and neat, with all of the appliquéd lace being applied with a coverlock stitch rather than a zigzag – probably a more secure method of stitching, although a bit more of a visible finish. The fabric underneath has been cut at a zigzag, which minimizes fraying, though over time I can imagine some threads would start to come loose (not that this would cause any problems with the security of construction).
Photo by Karolina Laskowska
I love the design of this piece – the contrast between the transparent and delicate lace with the opaque silk is unusual and striking. I think the placement of the silk over the bust works particularly well – appearing almost like a floating soft bra. The fit of this piece is remarkably good given my history with bodysuit style pieces. I have a pear-shaped figure, with up to two sizes difference between my top and bottom halves, as well as an unusually long torso. The length of this piece is perfect for me and the full cut of the knickers means my ample bottom is very comfortably accommodated. The ruching elastic at the waist and centre back mean there’s quite a lot of flexibility to the fit – it would work with a range of body lengths and body shapes. The bust doesn’t offer any real support, but there’s certainly space there for larger busted women to wear this romper comfortably.
Photo by Karolina Laskowska
My only real complaint is that gusset of this romper is made entirely of lace with no lining to it. This can get somewhat uncomfortable if you’re wearing this romper for extended periods of wear. I’m somewhat surprised that there isn’t at least a small panel of cotton included within the gusset – especially given that the rest of this garment feels so luxurious, it seems like somewhat of an oversight. The high-leg cut of the romper also means that wearing some knickers underneath looks a little strange, so that isn’t an option with this piece either.
Overall I think that this is a gorgeous piece, with a subtly unusual design and luxurious fabrics. It has a very welcome place in my lingerie wardrobe and will be the perfect for some lazy lounging this Summer!
Readers – how do you feel about this piece by Salua Lingerie? Are rompers a style you wear particularly often?
After three years studying Contour Fashion at De Montfort University, the end is finally in sight – I’m about to graduate from Lingerie School! Contour Fashion is a degree that specialises in intimate apparel – covering almost all areas of lingerie and then some. We’ve studied everything from corsetry to swimwear, and each chose our own final major projects – some girls chose to go down a technical route to fulfill a market niche, whilst others chose to design around aesthetics, pushing the boundaries of lingerie design.
My class is full of incredibly talented individuals and I’m so proud of what everyone has achieved- we all started at the same place, yet the final collections that everyone has created are so wonderfully varied, both from an aesthetic and technical perspective. Our final projects give students an opportunity to create something unique and boundary pushing, without having to worry about the consequences of whether the garments would sell at retail – it’s some of the most beautiful lingerie that sadly you’ll never be able to buy! I’m sharing a small fraction of this year’s graduate’s work with you and I hope you love it all as much as I do. Thank you to De Montfort University for letting me share all this incredible work with you!
All photoshoot images courtesy of De Montfort University, all other images belong to the respective designers.
Akaibi’s project is focused on sportswear for people with limited dexterity and flexibility, taking her inspiration from the Paralympics that were founded in her home town. By conducting interviews with people that suffer from limited mobility, she developed special silicone grips to help aid the process of dressing. The amount of technical detail and consideration that has gone into this collection is astounding and I can’t do it justice in a short paragraph – nevertheless, as a collection it’s a fresh and interesting take on sportswear, in a woefully underserved market.
Technical flat illustrations
Fashion illustrations of the full collection
Amber created a corsetry and lingerie based collection, taking its inspiration from oriental florals and 1950s silhouettes and fabric techniques. It’s focused on rigid structures designed to emphasize the contours of the female body. She used fan lacing as a key feature in the garments, taken from her love of vintage corsetry, as well as trying to recreate the structures of oriental fans. Amber designed her own floral print for the collection, using a mix of illustrations in digital print and embroidery.
Charlie’s collection is inspired by the natural decay of flowers, using the varied textures throughout her surface embellishment. She’s used both modern and vintage shapes to create a stunning range of boudoir wear, with luxurious fabrics such as delicate leavers laces, silk satins, georgettes and chiffons. Corded lace was carefully positioned and appliquéd over the sheer fabrics to protect the wearer’s modesty, giving the collection a seductive and playful edge.
Charlotte’s collection ‘Aurora’ approaches soft bras from a fresh direction, using unusual construction features such as overbust and sidebust slings to give the garments aesthetic appeal as well as uplifting and supporting the breasts. Aesthetic inspiration came from glacier formations (with an icy colour palette and delicate lace applique and beading), whilst styling took its inspiration from the 1920s and 30s.
Technical flat illustrations
Charlotte was initially inspired by a 1920s barber chair, with the design process focusing on each of the chair’s individual elements, from the textured upholstery to the intricate iron works. The collection is called ‘The Cut Lilac Collection’ and includes intricately laser cut faux metallic snakeskin along with lilac silk and crepe contrast elements.
Technical flat illustrations
Daisy’s collection ‘L’Amore a La Vie’ is designed with a bride’s trousseau in mind – building up each outfit for her special day. Her inspiration originated from a Fabarge exhibition and an exploration into the life of the Royals and the part that sheer excess played. The collection uses delicate Chantilly laces and luxurious silks.
‘Labyrinth’ takes its inspiration from traditional black work embroidery, updating it with a modern twist. Emma developed the print from her own illustrations, creating floral motif patterns from drawings of crowns, jewels and masquerade masks. The designs are created as one-off show pieces and are embellished with lace and beading.
Technical flat illustration board
Georgie’s collection ‘Palazzo di Giardino’ was initially inspired by intricate and elegant Florentine architecture. Golden silk satins and chiffons are layered with lace appliqué and hints of blue, accented with crackled blue leather and embellished with beading. The collection is aimed at a boutique lingerie level.
Technical flat illustration board
Jennifer’s collection focused on the market niche of women with a 36-44 D-K cup bra size in dress sizes 14-26, creating a range of luxury boudoir lingerie. Entitled ‘A Russian Affair’, it was inspired by decadent Russian palaces with bold colours and striking gold embellishments. Stretch mesh was used to shape and control the body, with silk chiffons and satins creating fluidity and movement.
My collection focused on bespoke corsetry, drawing its inspiration from Japanese kimono and antique corsetry, with colouration drawn from orchids and French macarons. All of the corsetry utilised genuine vintage kimono silks, upcycling them to give them a new lease of life. They’ve been paired with exquisite French leavers laces, both as a fabric and intricate appliqué. The corsets were all designed to give dramatic shaping, with a cupped rib silhouette allowing for comfortable waist reduction.
Technical flat illustrations
Nancy’s collection is called the ‘Ethereal Bride collection’. It draws its inspiration from Edwardian fashion and architecture, using exquisite hand made laces with intricate beading and luxurious silks.
Technical flat illustration board
Hero garment illustration
Rosa created a collection of high end swimwear entitled ‘Ceylon’. Her prints were inspired by Sri Lanka, conveyed through kaleidoscopic designs and rich embellishments. Designs are fashion forward with dramatic strapping details and exciting trimmings, from pompoms to beading, with contrast panelling in PVC.
‘Bella Suora’ drew its inspiration from the catacombs of Napoli and the clothing of Italian widows and nuns, in particular the use of lace and structure head-dresses. Selina created a collection of luxury lingerie, pairing unusual materials – carbon fibre was used to create structure, contoured pieces, which leavers laces gave lingerie an elegant contrast.
Technical flat illustration board
Sophie’s initial inspiration was drawn from images of insects covered in dew drops, which later led to a study of the shaping of coral. Her collection echos the delicacy of detail found within the insects’ wings, contrasted with the harsh structure of the coral. Fins stretch meshes and crepe de chine were used, paired with delicate lace appliqué and embellished with beads and Swarovski crystals, a visual translation of glistening dew drops.
Readers: Which of these designs are your favourite? Have you ever considered studying lingerie design?
Lace appliqué in progress – each piece has to be individually placed and pinned securely before stitching!
As a student in my final year of lingerie school, the past few weeks have mostly comprised of delicately hand-sewing lace appliqué – it’s a technique that features heavily in my final collection, and a technique that I consider one of the most exquisitely beautiful in the entire world of lingerie.
The technique usually involves cutting out individual motifs from a piece of lace, placing them on a fabric base and carefully stitching around the edge to hold it in place. Sometimes the scallop (edge) of the lace is used instead or the motifs are ready-made. Often designers will also choose to have the fabric underneath the appliqué cut away so that the lace sits directly against the skin.
As far as embellishment techniques go, it’s among the most expensive (perhaps only second to heavy beading!). It’s time-consuming and extremely specialised – usually in the industry, a tight zigzag machine stitch is used to sew the lace down. The machinist has to carefully go around the edge of the delicated and complex motifs, without encroaching too much on the lace design and covering it up with thread. Some particularly high-end designers even choose to hand-stitch their lace – I can testify that this can take hours and hours to complete, but results in totally invisible stitching on the outside of the garment and an impeccably beautiful finish. As a consequence, you most commonly find this technique in very high-end lingerie and corsetry – with a price tag to match!
Here are a few of my favourite examples of the lace appliqué technique being used in the lingerie world at the moment:
Topshop – bra £20, knickers £8
I love how this Topshop set uses the lace scallop over a mesh base – the mix of sheer with a dark lace would look amazing and graphic against the skin. The navy tone of the lace also gives the set an elegant subtlety.
Elle Macpherson – bra £65, brief £36
The red silk of this set is gorgeously opulent – I also love how the lace isn’t symmetrically placed, giving it a much more organic feel.
Angela Friedman – slip $265
I adore the richness of colour subtlety of the appliqué in this one-off piece by Angela Friedman -gorgeously sophisticated.
Fleur of England – babydoll £275
This babydoll has been on my lustlist since I first saw it at a tradeshow – the peach combination of the delicate black thread chantilly lace over peach tulle is absolutely stunning.
Ava Corsetry – corset £695
I love the drama of this corset – the deep red silk paired with decadent corded lace appliqué and crystals make for a truly beautiful showpiece.
Carine Gilson – camisole £565
I consider Carine Gilson’s designs the epitome of luxury in the lingerie world – having seen it in person, the quality of her garments are impeccable to none – the stitching is so tiny it’s near invisible! This camisole has such an elegant and classic colourway – the embellishment is so delicately perfect.
Layneau – gown $2200
This gown by Layneau is a real showstopper – floor length silk with gloriously delicate chantilly lace edging on the neckline and hem. Those twin spaghetti straps set the whole garment off beautifully.
Shell Belle Couture – t-shirt £90
I love how this garment blends the boundaries between lingerie and outerwear – plus sheer mesh and gorgeous lace are a win-win combination!
Myla – soft bra and brief £550
I adore the delicacy and frivolity of this chiffon and chantilly lace set – the scallop frill on the bottom of the bra is absolutely divine.
Agent Provocateur – bra £125, suspender £165, brief £95
I’ve seen this ‘Demelza’ set by Agent Provocateur everywhere since its release – and with its unusual graphic strapping and delicate lace accents it’s easy to see why! I love how strong this design is, my only peeve is that this lace has been bonded (glued rather than stitched) which has left it with a slightly cripsy texture!
Readers: how do you feel about lace appliqué? Which of these designs is your favourite?
Back in January I visited the Salon de la Lingerie (one of the biggest lingerie trade shows) in Paris. It’s held twice a year and hundreds of brands exhibit there from all over the world. My absolute favourite part of the show is seeing the collections of the huge variety of Indie designers – this is where lingerie design gets most creative and takes the most risks. Without further ado, here are my highlights of next season’s lingerie from the Salon:
Almeida’s style seems to be very bold and overtly sexy – this season uses glossy patent leathers and feathered accessories, along with provocative cuts such as quarter cup bras and the unusual longline underbust corset. However, amidst the more S&M styled pieces it was the soft silk chiffon designs that caught my eye – I love the sleeve detail on the soft bra above and the soft diaphanous colouration.
Beautiful Bottoms have some truly stunning silk pieces for next season – ‘Graphic Galaxy’ is probably my favourite collection of theirs today, and I love how bold and psychedelic the prints have become, whilst the relaxed and simple silhouettes allow the prints to speak for themselves. I’m particularly in love with the ‘Ethereal Echo’ set, shown in the vest top above – it’s such a dreamy colourway and I adore the organic painterly feel to the print itself.
Betty Blue’s Loungerie has been on my radar for a while, but I’d only ever seen the designs online. I’m so glad I’ve had the chance to see the products in person – the fleece robes are genuinely the most gratifyingly snuggly pieces of loungewear I have encountered in my entire life (and I seriously need one once I save up my pennies!). I’m also in love with the new silk ‘Nell’ pieces in a striking ‘Heather’ colourway (particularly that nightgown!). Betty is also launching ‘Betty Bridal’, releasing several of the existing ‘Nell’ designs in ivory. My particular favourite is the bodysuit – that plunge neckline and the strap detailing are just divine.
What I love most about Britta Uschkamp’s lingerie is just how uncompromisingly fun it is – very few designers manage to achieve that level of of carefree frivolity in their designs! They may not be too everyone’s taste but the gratuitous ribbons and unusual laces are deliciously girly. I’m a bit of a lace obsessive so I was very drawn to Britta’s use of it – in particular the Marilyn Monroe motifs, dip dying and metallic printing – not exactly standard lingerie fare, and it’s great to see a designer doing something so different.
AW14/15 is possibly my favourite Dirty Pretty Things collection so far. The retro styling and unusual fabrics make a stunning pairing – gold leathers and holographic prints being the most striking! The stand out piece for me is the gold leather and black basque – I love the style lines, and the colourway is a failsafe way into my heart. I was also rather intrigued by the new diffusion line ‘Flirty Pretty Things’ debut collection – bold neons, leopard print and metallics all capture the DPT classic aesthetic but at a much more accessible price point – whilst it’s not lingerie for the faint hearted, there are some very bold and fashion forward pieces to be found.
The Salon was my first real encounter with Australian brand Kiss Kill and I absolutely love what they’re doing. Their collaboration with model Cheyenne Tozzi is absolutely stunning, and encompasses some of my favourite lingerie trends – strappy details, gold studs and metallic chantilly laces, whilst retaining a luxe edge. It’s fashion forward lingerie at its best, with many of the pieces made to be seen – I can definitely imagine rocking one of those bras under a sheer top!
I’m a little ashamed to admit that I don’t pay nearly enough attention to the lingerie world outside of the fashion-focused indie and luxury brands – but I’m glad that I saw Lorna Drew’s designs in person at the show. A specialist maternity brand, there’s been real thought put into the product both from an aesthetic and a functional point of view. The designs are feminine without being overly fussy and the patented design means there’s up to three cup sizes adjustment to each bra.
Mirage Magique are a new French luxury full-bust focused brand. Designer Sandra’s use of lace is truly stunning, particularly her bespoke burlesque pieces. The ‘Night Owl’ collection for AW14/15 gives a more wearable twist of showgirl glamour, with gorgeous lace details throughout. Alongside lingerie there’s also a range of boudoir accessories such as chokers and gloves – all of which could look equally lovely when worn outside of the bedroom. I hope to see more of this young designer in the future as she certainly carries a lot of promise!
Next season Nichole will be focusing more on ready-to-wear, blurring the boundaries between lingerie and womenswear – I’m particularly intrigued by the corsetted jackets and body-con dresses. There’s also new colourways and prints in the more classics designs, including tartans. What caught my eye most though was the new diffusion line – these ‘basics’ will still carry lots of Nichole’s signature strap detailing at a much more affordable price point.
Dutch brand Pretty Wild’s use of leather and lace is absolutely breath-taking – during my time on their stand I couldn’t help but fall in love with almost every piece that I was shown. There’s a lot of lingerie on the market currently that’s following the formula of leather, lace and straps but this brand manages to stand out from the crowd – I love their unusual use of lace placement and paneling, particularly with regards to the lace scallops and the rather textural use of guipure embroideries. Definitely a brand to watch – their designs are now very firmly on my lust list.
London-based lingerie and loungewear designer Steph Aman creates pieces that are more akin to art in my opinion – there really are no other words for the intricate embroideries and level of detail given to her designs. The delicate embroideries and paintings on silk chiffons and tulles need to be seen in person to be truly appreciated. I particularly love the darker aesthetic that her collection carries this season, with motifs of skeletons and chains amongst the softly feminine florals.
French brand Ysé are a small-bust focused brand with a refreshing outlook on lingerie – their focus isn’t on push-up effects or enhancement, but simply to create beautiful lingerie that fits smaller frames as they already are, with a range of wired and soft cup bras on offer. The designs are fresh and directional, with gorgeous colour combinations and paneling details.
Readers: what do you think of these brands’ new offerings? Is there any lingerie that you’re particularly looking forward to seeing next season?
Disclosure: I purchased all of the lingerie in this review myself. All opinions are my own.
Carine Gilson’s lingerie has been on my lust list for longer than I can remember. Renowned for her couture approach to lingerie and using only the finest silks and chantilly laces, her designs are the creme de la creme of the lingerie world – and most certainly carry the price tag to match – knickers tend to start around $350 whilst a chemise can set you back over $1000. Her designs have always been something that I’ve dreamed about but assumed I’d never be able to actually own.
Nevertheless, I was trawling the post-Christmas sales back in January and found myself in Harrod’s, a luxury department store in Central London. This is the sort of place I’d never normally be able to shop in, yet the sales make all the difference – ‘clearance’ is a magical world! Nevertheless, it was rather a traumatic experience to see so many pieces of exquisite lingerie (Rosamosario, Jenny Packham and Marjolaine just to name a few brands) shoved haphazardly onto racks and strewn across the floor. Nevertheless, I plowed through to uncover a Carine Gilson bra and French knicker at 80% off in almost my size – and then I made the mistake of taking them to the changing room, from which point I was essentially doomed to buy them.
Whilst the two pieces I chose weren’t exactly matching in terms of colour, they both featured the same lace designs and featured such clashing colours that I figured I could make them work as a set. The bra is a plunge/push up style with molded cups, whilst the knickers are a fairly loose-fitting ‘French knicker’ style with a stretch waistband. The bra is a 34B – I usually wear a 32C/30D, so whilst it is the same cup size, the band is a little loose. The knickers are a Large which I would equate to a UK12. Similar bra styles sell for around $548 and knickers for $466 and are available in sizes 32B-36C and Small – Large.
Personally, the fit of these garments played a relatively minor part in my decision to purchase them. Nevertheless, given the fact that I’d purchased the ‘wrong’ bra size, the fit is still good. The cups fit well with the wire fully encasing my breast tissue. The band is a little looser than I’d normally like, which is understandable given that it’s a couple of sizes out of my normal choice. The knickers are all round a good fit, with enough stretch in the waistband to sit comfortably just above my hips.
What prompted me to actually purchase these was the, quite frankly, insane attention to detail. It’s reaffirmed my opinion that Carine Gilson’s designs are the absolute pinnacle of the luxury lingerie experience. As a designer myself, this is something I’m usually extremely critical of – yet these pieces are pretty much flawless. The construction of both pieces is exquisite. The bra has had all of its elastics bagged out so that they’re not externally visible and give a smooth finish. The straps are made of silk and the bra is lined with silk. The actual wire casing is lined with silk – whilst this isn’t exactly practical in the long run (wire casings have to be sturdy as the take most of the stress when wearing the bra), it certainly feels wonderful – plus I doubt these designs were ever intended for every day wear. My personal favourite element of the bra’s construction is that the additional push up pad ‘cookies’ that come with it are also covered in silk! The lace is appliquéd onto the cups symmetrically with near invisible stitching.
However, the finesse of the construction truly comes to light with the knickers, where there’s no covering up of the stitching as within the bra. All the seams are French seams – a time-consuming technique that involves trapping all the raw edges within the seam itself, so there’s only beautifully finished edges actually in contact with the skin. The gusset is lined with silk and has been bagged out so there are no visible raw edges. The hem of the knickers and the stitching on the actual lace applique is so impossibly tiny and fine that it’s difficult to believe it’s actually physically possible to sew so immaculately – on the exterior of the garment you can’t even see that it’s been stitched. Literally the only element of the knickers’ construction that hasn’t left me overwhelmed is the 3-point zigzag stitch that they’ve used on the elasticed waistband – but even that is finished with an exquisite silk ruffle!
For me, Carine Gilson lingerie is the epitome of luxury – the construction is perfect and the design absolutely exquisitely elegant and timeless. It has one major flaw though – it’s so beautiful that I’m actually scared to wear it and it’s remained wrapped in tissue in a box since I bought it, taken out only for these photos! I’m still hit with pangs of guilt for actually buying it, given the rather ridiculous expense even at 80%, but I’m trying to justify it as motivation for myself as a designer – I’m hoping that one day I too will be able to create something this beautiful!
Readers: Have you encountered Carine Gilson lingerie before? What makes a lingerie experience true luxury for you?
Disclosure: this lingerie was provided for review purposes by Ultimo. All opinions are my own.
The OMG plunge bra by Ultimo
Ultimo are a British lingerie brand that I’ve seen a lot of but never actually got round to trying – it had been on my to do list for a while so when I was offered a set to review, I jumped at the chance! I was sent the OMG plunge bra and Invisible short in sizes 30D and a UK12 in plain black. The bra retails for £24 and is available in sizes 30D, 32A-36D and 38 B-D. A similar DD-G version of the bra is also available for £28. The shorts retail for £12 and are available in UK sizes 8-18. Both bra and shorts are also available in white and ‘nude’.
There’s nothing particularly remarkable about the design of this set, but they’re excellent lingerie wardrobe basics. The bra features a micofibre outer and lining. The cups are moulded with an integrated silicone ‘sling’, that claims to mould around the breast and move like real breast tissue to create a more natural looking ‘boost’.
The bra’s construction is impressively sturdy and clean, with all seams having been bagged out with no visible elastics. There is also a distinct lack of labels within the bra, as all the care information has been printed onto the unusually soft hooks and eyes – I can imagine that for those with sensitive skin, this carries a lot of extra comfort appeal. All the metal components of this bra are gold toned which adds a luxe feel.
Overall, the fit of the bra is good, with the wires and moulded cups fully encasing my breast tissue. I often have problems with moulded cups in that my breasts don’t quite fill them, leaving a rather noticeable gap at the top of the cups. Happily, this isn’t a problem with this particular bra. The silicone padding at the bottom of the cups gives a very noticeable effect, though admittedly it does look and feel a lot more ‘natural’ than the majority of push up bras do.
The push-up effect is very noticeable – I’d agree with the brand’s claims that it can give the appearance of 2 cup sizes larger, as it gave me bust a much fuller silhouette and more lift than I was expecting. However, I’d take the ‘ultimate cleavage’ tagline with a tiny bit of salt – this is totally dependant on your figure type. It certainly gave me the biggest boost any bra has and gives a very impressive décolletage beneath low cut tops.
One feature of the bra that I particularly like the idea of is the racerback conversion – this is in the form of an extremely subtle ‘hook’ extension on one of the strap’s ring. It’s easy to twist this round and hook it to the other strap, giving you more outfit options and a bit of extra subtle lift to your bust.
However, I have one pretty major gripe with this bra – the strap length is very short. Even on its longest extension, I found this bra started to become painful to wear after just a couple of hours as the straps were just digging in too much. As a consequence, the racerback conversion of the straps was just too uncomfortable to wear for an extended amount of time as this pulls the straps even shorter. This is something that I could easily fix myself with a couple of new pieces of elastic, but it’s something to keep in mind if you are particularly tall.
The shorts are also made of microfiber – the seams are all bonded rather than stitched, giving a smooth finish. I love how the edges of the shorts have been flocked (a technique that gives a ‘velvet’ finish) to prevent them from slipping – it’s effective and feels a lot nicer on the skin than normal lingerie elastics.
Overall the shorts are a good fit and are extremely comfortable – they are VPL free and with the soft microfiber fabric they’re a truly comfortable solution garment – comfortable enough for everyday wear, and not just as a solutions garment.
Despite the fact that I live in the UK, I’m not all that familiar with non-indie British brands. I don’t hold anything against them in the slightest, I just take a particular interest in the independent side of the industry where unusual designs are more of a focus. Nevertheless, when I received the suggestion to review some of Myleene Klass for Littlewoods lingerie, I was intrigued. I’ve never paid much notice to celebrity-designed lines in the past so I was interested to see how this one would measure up!
I chose to review the lace and mesh longline bra and matching control brief in sizes 32C and UK 12. Although now largely sold out, the bra was available in sizes 32B to 40E and the brief in sizes 8-20. They retailed for £25 and £22 respectively (the bra can now be found on sale for £15).
When the lingerie set arrived, I must admit that my first impressions were pretty favourable – the set is well made and sturdy. Both bra and knickers feature a range of cream and black panelled fabrics with a mix of opaque and sheer fabrics. The lace is pretty and delicate, whilst the graphic elastic panel detail gives the set a bold and directional edge. There are gold components on the strap and the centre-front features a delicate gold heart embossed charm. The bra is a longline style, with wire and molded cups and additional support boning in the wing seams to prevent the bra from rolling down. The elastic also contains silicone grips for when the bra is worn without straps.The bra is mostly rigid, with only very small panels in the centre back consisting of stretch mesh. Straps are removable, and the bra comes with additional ‘invisible’ straps. The briefs are composed mostly of firm control fabric, with few small decorative panels of mesh. There is also a very wide concealed elastic waistband.
I was very impressed with the bra’s fit. The underband comes up quite tight, so the bra works well for me despite my normally requiring a band size down. It even worked well as a strapless fit, with the silicone grips and longline shape keeping the bra comfortably in place, even during my rigorous testing of running up and down the stairs and over-enthusiastic star jumps! The wires were a good size for my breasts and encased them entirely, tacking well at the centre front. The fit of the molded cups was also good, despite this being a shape that doesn’t normally suit me! My only minor grip is that I had to wear the straps at their maximum extension – something I found slightly disconcerting given that I’m only slightly above average height.
Unfortunately, for all the bra’s positives, the set is let down rather dramatically by the knickers. I ordered a size 12 (my usual knicker size) but was a little worried about how they would fit. My waist is fairly small and would fit a size 8 according to the website’s sizing chart so I assumed that they’d fit on my hips and bottom but would be baggy along the waist. To my surprise, I had the opposite problem. The knickers were a good and comfortable fit along my hips and bum, with no cutting in and a fairly smooth line (smooth though, not seamless – they are control knickers but I wouldn’t wear these under something skin tight). It was the thick elastic waistband that caused problems though – it is uncomfortably tight on my body, cutting in and causing an extremely unflattering silhouette Given that these are supposed to be control knickers I didn’t expect them to create ‘rolls’ of body fat that didn’t even exist before! What is most disconcerting is just how inaccurate this sizing is – I know my waist size is nowhere near a commercial size 12, so for it to be too small is a pretty big fault. It’s such a shame as they’re very pretty knickers, and it’s literally only the waistband that causes this problem. They might work for you if you go up a size or two, but I know that if I tried a size 14 then they would be baggy around my bum – which is never a flattering look!
Overall this experience has left me with a fairly mixed view of Myleene Klass lingerie – I’m impressed with the quality and design given the brand’s low pricepoint but the poor fit of the knickers has left me feeling let down. It’s a shame that such a minor mistake of cutting one piece of elastic too short can affect a garment’s fit so much!
Readers: have you tried Myleene Klass lingerie before? What were your thoughts?
Disclosure: I received this lingerie free of charge for review purposes. All opinions are my own.
Ayten Gasson have been on my radar for several years now; I’ve always loved their classically pretty combinations of silk and lace and have worn more than my fair share of their lingerie to death. So when I was given the chance to review one of their Nina stretch silk bodysuits, I jumped at the chance.
One of the things that appeals to me most about Ayten Gasson is their dedication to British manufacturing – not just in the sense that all of their products are sewn there, but also in the sense that all of the laces used are genuine Nottingham leavers laces.
Lace is somewhat an obsession of mine and it strikes me as a true tragedy that the British lace industry has died out almost completely. Once Nottingham lace was seen as one of the finest laces available, produced on antique ‘Leavers’ machines. It’s an extremely fine and relatively expensive lace. As the demand for cheap materials and labour rose and clothing and lingerie brands moved their production to Asia, many lace manufacturers found themselves having to close their doors; the bulky leavers machines were either sold overseas or destroyed, for lack of funds to store them.
Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom – British lace still exists, manufactured by Cluny in Nottingham. It’s this lace that is used in Ayten Gasson’s designs, alongside vintage Nottingham laces. These laces are usually made of cotton and have a much kinder feel against the skin than the synthetics that you’d normally expect.
Lace reminiscence aside and onto the bodysuit, it’s as beautiful as you would expect from Ayten Gasson. The silk satin is a gorgeous soft peach colour and has a fair amount of stretch to it (which makes this bodysuit all the more flattering and comfortable!). The neckline and legs are trimmed in black leavers lace.
The back is finished in a delicate picot edge elastic, with black rouleax shoulder straps with gold adjusters. The bustline is softly gather in, with delicate pin stitch detail and a silk covered button at the centre front. Of course, one problem with bodysuits is that if you’re wearing them outside the boudoir, going to the toilet requires completely undressing. The ‘Nina’ addresses these practicalities of life though with delicate poppers! The bodysuit retails for £97 and is available in sizes small to large. It also comes in a blush pink colourway.
I was impressed with how well the bodysuit fit my body –my shape is not something that’s ever been particularly compatible with commercial clothing, given that there’s up to 2 sizes difference between my top half and bottom half and my torso is longer than average. I found that the size medium was the best fit for me (I normally wear a UK 12 on my bottom half and wear a 30D bra), with the silk stretching comfortably without looking unflattering. The ruched bust also works particularly well – offering gentle support for a range of bust sizes (with room for larger chests than mine too!). Ideally I’d prefer it to be a little more fitted around the waist, but otherwise it’s difficult to fault!
I love the easy fit of loungewear pieces like this bodysuit – it works great even with body shapes like mine that are a little awkward to fit elsewhere. I also love its versatility – it’s great to wear in the bedroom, to lounge in and to style as outerwear –that lace neckline is far too cute to hide.
Readers – have you tried Ayten Gasson’s designs before? Did you love them as much as I do?
‘Ela’ – one of the lingerie sets that my crowdfunding campaign made possible
Crowdfunding is an internet phenomenon that’s exploded in the past few years. Websites such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Sponsume offer people the chance to raise funds for their projects with the entire internet at their fingertips. It’s no surprise that it’s proven so popular – it means that businesses no longer have to rely on banks or investors to get their project off the ground. Instead they rely on their own fans, their friends and their family –people with a genuine vested interest in seeing the project succeed.
My campaign video – shot by Max Allen
The concept behind crowdfunding is that ‘rewards’ or ‘perks’ are offered in exchange for a pledge of funds. These can vary hugely in content and value, with many starting at £1 and others reaching dizzying heights over £10,000. Many lingerie brands choose to offer presales on their new collections, as well as exclusive items just for the campaign, from pieces of lingerie to prints of illustrations. Depending on the website used, funders face one of two options: either they take the risk of reaching their target within a set time or receiving no money, or if they don’t reach their target the website takes a large cut of the funds raised.
More and more lingerie brands have started to use this method of funding to get their own collections off the ground. After seeing their success, this Summer I too decided to take the plunge and use Indiegogo to fund my new lingerie collection!
Designs from my first collection – their construction and materials mean they could be produced on a domestic sewing machine
When I started my lingerie brand, it was on a tiny scale that involved me buying materials in tiny quantities and manufacturing each garment by myself. I knew this would in no way be practical when I entered my final year of university –I came to the decision that it would be a risky but in the long term sensible business move to make the step into factory production. Of course, there were rather large obstacles in my way. As a student, I don’t qualify for most business start-up schemes, whilst no bank would so much as consider giving me a loan. Crowdfunding was literally my only option to make my lingerie dreams a reality.
As part of my new collection I sourced beautiful vintage kimono silks to upcycle
My previous collection was based entirely around elastic strapping frame pieces. I wanted to push myself as a designer and bring more lingerie-focused pieces into the collection –soft lace bras and knickers, open cup wired bras. I wanted to showcase my love of beautiful materials –I’d sourced some absolutely stunning French couture Chantilly and beaded laces, and my personal favourite: a hand-picked selection of vintage Japanese kimono silks. As well as a collection of lingerie sets that featured contemporary fabrics, I wanted to create a series of knickers that upcycled the kimono silks into pieces of wearable art.
Swing tags and labels: surprisingly more expensive than you’d anticipate.
The fact is, there’s simply no way I’d be able to produce such a collection by myself. No matter how much I scrimped and scraped my money, I wouldn’t be able to buy the materials, nor could I sew my designs to a professional standard on domestic machines. There are also so many costs that you wouldn’t normally consider; items such as custom woven labels and printed tags have to be purchased in bulk to be at all cost-effective. The same applies to fabrics and trims –nylon liners and elastic trims, stretch meshes and cotton gusseting. Everything adds up beyond what was initially imagined.
Exclusive rewards for my campaign: eyelash lace and silk lingerie sets and knickers – these were actually very fun to create!
Preparing and running the campaign was more hard work than I could have imagined – it’s not a case of simply uploading the required information and waiting for the timer to run its course. You have to create a personal video and plan out exactly where the money needs to go. You need to create exciting and desirable rewards for your funders. You have to promote your campaign – and in my opinion this was the most difficult part of the entire project. There’s a fine line between asking for help and annoying people – I fear I may have overstepped it a few times!
Knickers from my first factory delivery – opening the box was such an exciting experience!
My campaign was a success and I reached full funding within the deadline. It is truly an overwhelming experience when you achieve a goal like that – a combination of friends, family and total strangers believe in you enough and enjoy your work enough to help bring your project to life. I can also safely say that ripping open a box containing your first factory delivery is fantastically satisfying!
Whilst it was an overall positive experience, there are certain risks attached (not to mention the barrage of criticism I managed to attract!). You can’t go into a crowdfunding campaign thinking you’ll keep every penny for your project; a large portion of any money raised goes to pay the website’s fees and payment processing fees. I personally used quite a large portion of the money to pay for the fulfilment of my pledge rewards. It’s also very easy to get overly distracted with fulfilling the rewards –after all, you want to make your funders happy but there’s no point focusing on them alone and neglecting the original project!
How some of the criticisms made me feel… And yes I have a lot of hair!
Criticisms can also be harsh and demoralising. I struggled not to take to heart when I saw total strangers discussing my campaign on the internet and calling my new collection a whim and saying I should wait until I graduate before pursuing any sort of serious lingerie business. It’s important to remember that these are the sorts of things you’ll face whatever you do – it’s important not to trip at the first hurdle!
From the lookbook of my crowdfunded collection – ‘Ume’ knickers
The hard work all paid off though – the funds raised by the campaign (as well as a sizable chunk of my own savings!) paid for everything I needed to create my new collection – the beautiful fabrics, labels and tags, the flights to visit the factory, the production costs, the photoshoot. The new collection is beautiful and isn’t something I could have achieved on a similar scale by myself –I’m hoping it will pave the way for more beautiful lingerie in the future and for a successful brand that I can make a living from!
I haven’t been the only one to crowdfund my lingerie brand – here’s a few of the brands who successfully made their projects a reality or who are currently trying to!
Angela Friedman used Kickstarter to fund her SS12 ‘Versailles’ collection- comprising of sumptuous corsetry and lingerie sets, using deliciously opulent silks, brocades and French laces. Her campaign paid for the fabric and production costs, photoshoot, promotional materials and a presentation of the new collection.
Lingerie brand Relique started out selling on Etsy – their success prompted them to use Kickstarter to fund a new collection to present at the Lingerie Journal’s ‘Designer Showcase’ at the Lingerie Collective in February 2013. As well as materials and production costs, the funds raised via crowdfunding helped cover their showcase entrance fee.
Luxury bespoke corsetiere Sparklewren used Sponsume to raise the funds for a pop-up corsetry boutique in Birmingham in the UK. Funds raised covered materials costs and furnished and decorated the shop. The project was so successful that the pop-up extended beyond its initial planned 6 months into well over a year!
Lingerie brand ‘Blackbird Underpinnings’ are seeking $37,000 to fund their ‘Maven’ collection. The brand takes its inspiration from the 1920s and 30s and the inspiring women from this era – Edith Piaf, Josephine Baker, Marlene Dietrich and Gabrielle Chanel. Their designs focus on soft pieces with luxurious fabrics, such as silk charmeuse bloomers and rompers.
Ampere are seeking $15000 to launch their second collection, with a focus on every day luxury. It comprises of silk t-shirt bras and matching co-ordinates. The brand focuses on creating lingerie in a wide range of sizes and on improving the overall lingerie shopping experience. Their campaign hasn’t finished yet but they have already gone over their funding goal!
Readers: How do you feel about lingerie brands crowdfunding their collections? Have you ever contributed to one of these campaigns?