Lingerie Review: Ava Corsetry's Lola Babydoll and Lola Skirt
Disclosure: I received this item free of charge for review purposes. All opinions are my own.
Editor's Note: This is Laura's regular monthly column.
I am writing this review of Ava Corsetry’s Lola Babydoll and Lola Skirt from somewhat conservative central Turkey, so I can’t help being tickled even more than usual by getting to prance around in a frothy, sexy little number. Out on the streets, most women are wearing head scarves, several layers of high-necked shirts, and a long overlayer --- the only skin shown for both men and women are their faces. Despite it being 75 degrees, I’ve also been careful to keep modest when outside. What a pleasure it was yesterday to come home and slip into the Lola Babydoll. So much skin! I’ve never loved transparency more.
Indy brand Ava Corsetry launched in the UK in 2012. Designer Danielle Cowan studied both corsetry design and period costuming, and she’s clearly a corset nerd — and I mean that as a compliment. As a designer myself, I have huge respect for corsetiers. Corsetry can be an art form that challenges the interplay of structure and aesthetics. The subtle possibilities of what shapes the body can be trained into by a corset are vast, and mastering this practice takes rigor and exactitude.
Ava Corsetry is named in homage to screen siren Ava Gardner, who, though I don’t recollect being an especially devoted corset-wearer, embodies Hollywood glamour at its peak. Ava Corsetry’s web store sells mostly single-color waspies and corsets from £139 to £189. In addition, there’s the option of custom corsets from £695 to £875.
I was interested to be invited to review two soft items from a company specializing in corsetry. Danielle explains, “the story behind the [Lola Babydoll and Lola Skirt]… is one about blurring the lines between lingerie and outwear. Eg: the skirt could be worn over leggings or tights as an outerwear garment, or just over lingerie for the bedroom. I love the layer it creates between the wearer and the onlooker, obscuring but not covering completely what is underneath.”
I think this quote from the designer reflects her background and interest in corsetry, which is a subcategory of lingerie that has come to blend innerwear and outerwear. Corsetry has its roots as an underlayer that created a foundation for heavily seamed and shaped outerwear. But modern corsetry has evolved to be worn as ready to wear, and as stand-alone lingerie, rather than as a foundation. The Lola Skirt, though not officially corsetry, showcases the designer’s expertise in shaping and her attention to non-foundation lingerie pieces, like corsets. Skirts and half-slips are outlier categories in the contemporary lingerie market, which tends toward two-piece sets like bras and panties or one-piece outfits like chemises. I think this is partly because consumers prefer the ease of being provided a full look by a brand, rather than having to shop separately for mix-and-match layering pieces.
So Ava Corsetry’s Lola Skirt is an unusual piece in that it requires the wearer to incorporate it into a look mixed with pieces from other brands. Danielle explicitly intends this, explaining, “with the lace (I spent a long time looking for the perfect lace!) I had a desire to link to other luxury brands, such as Maison Close, so my garments would fit with the existing lingerie wardrobes of European women.”
I LOVE the Lola Skirt. In general, matchy lingerie feels a little stale to me, so I'm excited by the outfitting possibilities of this skirt. Of course, outfitting possibilities for an accessory are only as good as its fit and fabric, so I’m pleased to report that both are gorgeous. The skirt looks small and straight on a hanger, but when worn it shaped itself to me beautifully. The high waist ensures that the skirt doesn’t ride up or down as you wear it, and that you won’t get the dreaded muffin top, or the much worse IMT (inverted muffin top). I can see the corsetry handwriting in the way the skirt is seamed, with two princess seams down the front to allow for more graceful distribution of fabric fullness at the low hip (rather than simply having the garment look “hippy” at the sides).
The raw materials are simple and elegant. Stretch mesh has a delicate pointelle detail, and is stretchy enough for comfort, while still holding its shape. The eye-catcher is the eyelash lace edging at the hem. Eyelash lace is generally expensive, and you can see why. I love how it visually softens the edge of a garment, so the eye seems to flow from the garment, to a liminal space where garment mingles with skin, then to the exposed skin. It’s also great that the material has spandex content and the construction is sturdy so I don’t worry about balling the skirt up (say, for example, in a suitcase in Turkey), or wearing it hard. If you stretch the garment a lot, nothing will break because the fabric will stretch to accommodate the tension.
To revisit the conversation about versatile outfitting, I’ve been enjoying wearing the Lola Skirt with my own black thong or nothing. On top, I’ve felt chic in a drapey long sleeve t shirt, which provides a casual contrast to the skirt’s glamour.
I’m meant to review the Lola Babydoll alongside the Lola Skirt. I would praise some of the same things in the Babydoll as in the skirt, like the fabric and lace. I like the ease of being able to throw on the Babydoll, wear it comfortably, enjoy its transparency, and then roll it up for storage, but it is hard for a sheer black slip to stand out in a market full of sheer black slips — no slight on this one in particular. On my body, it had an easier fit than the skirt, i.e. instead of hugging my hips it flared out from the waist; it might be different on someone curvier.
I’m glad to have met Ava Corsetry. I support independent brands, and I love what Danielle is doing in corsets and with the brand’s foray into soft lingerie, and I can’t wait to check out one of their specialty corsets.
Which of Ava Corsetry’s pieces are you dying to try?