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As a lingerie designer, people often tell me my work sounds like a ‘dream job.’ An aura of fantasy and glamour surrounds the fashion industry. However, the reality is lingerie design can be pretty boring most of the time, with very little creativity involved at all.

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One of our previous “Best of Lingerie” winners, Tisja Damen first caught our eye with intricate patchwork lingerie that was more akin textile art than intimates. I fell in love with their unique, directional approach, and I’ve been checking in on the brand ever sense. In a way, it’s almost harder when you debut with such a strong perspective. People expect brilliance, and that can be a difficult bar to achieve season after season. Fortunately for the lingerie world, Tisja Damen manages to clear it easily.

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I first met one of the founders of Department of Curiosities at the Oxford Conference of Corsetry. Gerry Quinton, under the label Morua Corsetry & Couture, actually designed one of my favorite pieces – a cream overbust corset with golden stars made of fragmented glass. I was honestly delighted when I first heard the news of her new lingerie label. Corsetry is a bit of niche area, inaccessible and intimidating to many. Loungewear on the other hand…well, who doesn’t want some of that?

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The visual story of lingerie is everything, and a brand’s lookbook is one of the single most effective ways of transmitting that story. From a lookbook, you can learn if a brand is contemporary or traditional, luxury or inexpensive, French-inspired or American-influenced. A good lookbook conveys a brand’s identity, and it’s no exaggeration to say it can make or break a label.

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Every year, I think about collapsing the traditional five Holiday Lingerie Shopping Guides into two or three. Maybe doing two shopping guide for everything that’s under $249 and over $250, for example. And honestly, because I’ve been having so much trouble with time management this season, that may have been a good idea. Yet part of why I like to break out TLA’s Holiday Shopping Guides into so many price categories is because I believe it better conveys the story of lingerie. You can see how trends and patterns and silhouettes change between that $50 guide and that $500 guide. The drape is different. The shapes are different.The levels experimentation, playfulness, artistry – it’s all different.

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