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?
Founded in the 1950′s in Lyon, France, Lise Charmel is the very essence of French lingerie. Their luxurious laces and exquisite construction techniques are second to none, and this is a label that really shows how theatrical, opulent, and extravagant high-end lingerie can be. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing several Lise Charmel sets in person lately (and trying quite a few on), and they quite literally take my breath away. It’s hard to convey how luscious a brand like is in person. To be perfectly honest, this kind of laciness really isn’t my day-to-day style, but I doubt I’d turn down a set if someone gave it to me.
However, with bras starting at nearly $200, I may never get the chance to own a set from Lise Charmel. But I can still dabble in the brand a little bit with their trademark embroidered stockings. These stockings made an indelible impression on me back when I was still a stockings blogger. The welt treatment is unique to Lise Charmel, and ever since I first laid eyes on them, I’ve wanted a pair. And though $61 for a pair of thighs highs certainly isn’t cheap, I have a feeling I’d get my money’s worth out of these.
‘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?
I just can’t even with this bra, y’all…I just can’t even. I first saw this beauty live and in-person in Journelle’s Union Square shop window, and believe me when I say I’ve been dreaming about it ever since. I can just imagine how that demi lace cup would look framing my bosom, and when I found out there was a matching suspender belt? Well, let’s just say that if I happen to win the lottery, I know where I’m spending my winnings first.
This isn’t the first time Myla’s made a “Lingerie of the Week” feature either; about 18 months ago, I was all about their ‘Isabella’ pistachio bra set, which you can see here. Simply gorgeous.
The ‘Anatasia‘ bra retails for $170 and is available in sizes 32A through 36D (though most are sold out on Journelle). The ‘Celestria‘ suspender belt retails for $200 and is available in sizes S/M and M/L. The Myla website also carries both pieces in the full size range. What do you think of TLA’s latest lust objects? And have you tried Myla before?
For many lingerie addicts, La Perla was the first name they associated with luxury lingerie. One of the first truly world-famous lingerie labels, La Perla, which translates to “The Pearl,” was founded in 1954 by a corset maker named Ada Masotti. Like many designer European lingerie houses, the brand is known for its use of silk, lace, and tulle in creating fine lingerie. My favorite piece is the lace babydoll below (you all know how I feel about sheer black lingerie), but the red lace bra a bit further down comes in a close second. I don’t think this is one of La Perla’s strongest collections (Spring/Summer 2012 was, to put it simply, exquisite), but I do see quite a few pieces that could rightfully appear on someone’s holiday lingerie wishlist. La Perla offers items in Italian sizes 1 thru 5, which roughly corresponds to XS thru XL or 0 thru 14 in US sizing. Prices for this collection start at around $100 and go up to around $1300 US. La Perla ships worldwide.
Samples for this review were provided by Beautiful Bottoms. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Everyone has a lingerie weakness and mine has always been beautiful robes. As a result, Beautiful Bottoms has been on my robe radar for ages. I was thrilled when they offered a sample, as I’d finally get to try one of their floaty and ultra feminine creations.
Beautiful Bottoms makes lots of different items, but what ties their collections together is always their unique and colorful prints that just can’t be found anywhere else. Their line includes robes, bras, panties, camisole sets and playsuits – all in 100% silk.
Image via Beautiful Bottoms
Since I live in a near tropical climate, I couldn’t help but pick the aptly named Tropic Short Robe. The colors and pattern were completely unlike anything else I own, so I was eager to try something different. I asked for a size L, since I’m in the size 12 range. These robes are cut full and floaty, with gorgeous giant sleeves and a matching silk tie. The short robes definitely live up to their name – I’m 5’4″ and the robe hits me mid-thigh.
Despite the less form fitting cut, this robe is supremely flattering on me. I’m short torsoed, full busted and curvy so sometimes robes hit me at the wrong place. This one would be great on lots of different body types as it’s extremely forgiving. The real joy of this robe is in the fabric. The silk is delightfully sheer and light as air, while the pattern is at once eye catching and subdued. The colors are perfect and the pops of pink really stand out. This robe works year round in my warm weather climate, but would summer only for those of you who live in a place that actually has seasons. Even better, with careful washing this robe will stay good as new for ages. Beautiful Bottoms is at the bottom tier of the luxury market, which makes these robes a great treat to splurge on without maxing out your credit card.
Image via Beautiful Bottoms
I’m looking forward to rocking this robe at home or as a super stylish bathing suit cover up at the pool this summer. These robes would also make a great special occasion or honeymoon set along with their matching or contrasting bra and panty sets. Again, if you’re looking for a bridal splurge that won’t set your finances back forever, this is a brand to seriously consider.
Image via Bella Bella Boutique
Beautiful Bottoms has some gorgeous winter options out now, but my favorite of the bunch has to be this bird inspired version of their short robe. The fabric looks like a piece of art to me.
Have you tried Beautiful Bottoms? What do you think of these robes?
Fleur of England just released their new ‘Geisha‘ collection, and like everything else they’ve come out with this season, I’m positively swooning. I saw this collection for the first time at this past season’s lingerie market, and I love that it’s wearable luxury lingerie. I could see myself wearing these rich, deeply colored pieces everyday; either as lingerie or as part of a lingerie-as-outerwear ensemble…the lounge pants and camisole in particular are my favorite.
The bespoke pattern was in-house designed by Fleur herself, and was based on a photographic print of flowers from her very own garden (so creative!). I also asked about the Geisha name as, most times when you see a lingerie collection named ‘Geisha,’ it’s based on tired, racist stereotypes of Asian women (i.e. cultural appropriation). Suzanne, the sales and communication manger for Fleur of England, responded by saying, “It all came about as we wanted something to express the artisan nature of the collection. The original word Geisha means ‘artisan.’” (Editor’s Note: A reader on Tumblr asked why I chose to share this collection despite it’s name, and you can find my response here. I’m definitely open to other viewpoints on this topic, as I think it opens up an interesting conversation about when cultural appropriation starts. It also illustrates how the choice of a name can affect other people’s perceptions of an otherwise stellar collection.)
Prices for the Geisha collection range from £55.00 ($88.72 US) to £450.00 ($725.94). Sizes range from S to L (US size 4 thru 10) with bras covering sizes 34A to 34E/ 36DD and and 30C thru 32F. What do you think of Fleur’s newest range? If money was no object, I know that every piece would be in my lingerie drawer.