Introducing Pillowbook Lingerie
All photos by Matjaž Tančič
I am so excited about today's blog post! I know I say that pretty much all the time, but on the other hand, it's always true. I'm forever seeing something that just makes me ecstatic, and then I have to run over here to TLA and share it with you all.
Irene Lu, the designer behind Pillowbook contacted me a few days ago to share her new collection (as a quick aside, any brand or designer is always welcome to do this), and I found myself eager to talk about it on The Lingerie Addict for a few reasons.
First of all, Pillowbook Lingerie is, quite simply, beautiful. I enjoy the clean, architectural lines of the garments, and I appreciate the way the silhouettes flow. The designs are all very simple, almost deceptively so, yet still manage to be interesting. While classic, I also can't help but notice that the entire collection appears to be independent from any other lingerie trends (though, it could just be that I'm unfamiliar with the Asian market). Finally, I like how clear and transparent Pillowbook's aesthetic is. With some newer brands, you aren't quite sure what they're about, but that's not the impression I get here.
Besides those factors though, I wanted to feature Pillowbook because I cover very few non-US, non-European lingerie companies on TLA. The typical lingerie conversation is very, very focused on Western culture, in almost every respect... from sizes to styles to the skintones of the models. In addition, the lingerie industry has been (and, honestly, still is) quick to apply ridiculous non-terms like "Asian-inspired" to refer to a bit of floral-printed silk or a model in stark white face makeup. It's wonderful, a breath of fresh air honestly,to see a collection that is really, truly, genuinely Asian-inspired. That is, based in the country and culture of a specific country in Asia --- in this case, China.
According to the designer, the name Pillowbook is based on the "pillow books" of ancient China. Pillow books were erotic works of art and were often gifted to newlywed couples to help with their loveplay. Lu's Pillowbook collection is rooted in that eroticism; this lingerie is meant to be a pleasurable, sensual experience. And while the phrase "made in China" has quite a bit of stigma in the lingerie industry, Pillowbook's collection is proudly handmade in Beijing under fair and ethical conditions. Lu, who was born in New York City and attended the Fashion Institute of Technology, says she wants to reinvent classic Chinese lingerie (particularly the "Chinese chemise") and promote the beauty of smaller busts.
As you've probably noticed, this collection has given me a lot to think about. While beautiful lingerie can always be appreciated for its own sake, there's something to be said for a brand challenging the status quo, even unintentionally. What does "Asian-inspired" lingerie look like when you move beyond the usual stereotypes? Is "made in China" always a bad thing? And is there room in the blatantly Eurocentric world of lingerie for a decidedly Chinese brand? What do you think?