Luxury Lingerie Review: Chantal Thomass 'Tombeuse' Bra & Brief Set
Disclosure: This set was purchased by The Lingerie Addict for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.
Chantal Thomass is hands down one of my all-time favourite luxury lingerie labels. The French designer's eponymous label was founded in 1975, and although the company is now owned by the Chantelle group, Thomass still plays a prominent role in the brand.
The company is is renowned for its flirtatious and whimsical imagery and has long been a leader for industry design trends, The recent obsession with high neck bras? Well, Chantal Thomass debuted one in 2008.
My lingerie wardrobe has more sets from her label than any other designer. From their use of exquisitely delicate French Leavers laces to the vintage inspired silhouettes and details, there’s just something about the brand’s aesthetic that resonates deeply with me. Suffice to say when I was offered the opportunity to review Chantal Thomass' lingerie again, I jumped at the chance.
The ‘Tombeuse’ set for review consists of a soft full cup underwired bra and brief. The bra originally retailed at 159 euros ($177) and was available in sizes 32-36 B-E. The briefs retailed at 89 euros ($99) and were available in EU sizes 34-44 (approximately a XXS-XL). Although this colourway is from a previous season, the 2017 range includes the same silhouettes in a reversed beige/black or red/pink colourway.
The collection also includes a balconette style underwired bra, a triangle bralet, suspender belt, thong and camisole. Although you can’t purchase directly from the Chantal Thomass website, there is a tool to find your nearest retailer.
Fabric and Construction:
Both garments are made with the same combinations of sheer beige tulle, black opaque stretch crepe, black French Chantilly Leavers lace, ivory Leavers lace appliqués and black satin ribbon accents. The black lace used in this design holds a personal significance to me, as it is the same lace I used in my graduate design collection. Consequently, I know exactly which factory made it, and I know that it's an extremely high quality and expensive lace.
The bra is a full cup style, with just a single dart for shaping on the interior cup of beige tulle. The outer fabric of the cups is a black Chantilly Leavers lace, overlaying the cup and cradle in a single panel on each side.
The cup construction is assymetric. One cup has multiple small gathers, while the other has a single sewn dart. The neck and underarm edges are enclosed under beige tape for a very neat finish. The asymmetric construction, I assume, is due to the asymmetric embellishment, with the darted cup covered by a piece of ivory lace appliqué, whilst the appliqué on the other cup is placed partially on the bra cradle.
The bra wings are made of a single layer of black microfiber. The side seams are taped over with a plush channel encasing a single plastic bone for structure. Both the underband and neck edge of the wing are trimmed with a plush back elastic.
The bra fastens with a 2 row, 3 column hook and eye. What’s interesting to note is the hooks and eyes have been applied to the garment in a way more common in the 1950s, sewn in under the wing fabric for a more seamless finish. Most modern lingerie production simply encases the raw wing edge inside the tape for a cheaper and quicker finish.
The shoulder straps are split into two parts: a plush elastic for the front overlaid with black satin ribbon (that extends onto the cup with a forked finish), and a small portion of branded ‘Chantal Thomass’ elastic at the back with black enamelled rings and sliders. The bra is finished with a tuxedo style satin bow at the centre gore.
The knickers feature a front panel of beige tulle overlaid with black lace, with a piece of white lace appliqué across the centre front. The back and gusset are made of the black stretch crepe, with the centre back of the knicker ruched up with elastic.
The gusset is lined in cotton and all of the leg and waist edges are encased in plush back elastic. The knickers are finished with a tuxedo style satin bow at each side seam, and a forked piece of satin ribbon down the back of the centre back seam.
Both garments are sewn incredibly neatly, with no visible stitching faults or inconsistencies. There are some quite impressive construction techniques used in these garments, which would require a certain amount of time and skill many designers would consider unnecessary extras.
Most notably, all of the black lace overlays have been patterned and stitched in a way that has as little stitching or elastication through it, giving it a very clean and unfussy finish. The only criticism I would make is the lace appliqué is applied with a straight lockstitch, rather than the traditional tight zigzag.
In theory, this means the lace may start to fray out of this less secure method of stitching, but I have yet to experience any problems after multiple wears and washes. I suspect the time and skill involved with accurately and neatly applying the lace appliqués with a zigzag stitch would have exponentially increased the cost of these designs, thus making them unfeasible. Both garments were made in Hungary, part of the EU.
My usual bra size was sold out, so I sister sized up to a 34B (for reference, I usually wear a 32C in the brand). I was pleasantly surprised to discover the bra was actually an ok fit in the band on the tightest hook, and the stretch crepe comes up a little stiffer to the usual mesh used in Chantal Thomass bra wings. I expect my usual size would have been a better fit, but this bra is still comfortable enough to wear regularly.
The wires are a good size, and the darted construction of the bra cups gives a light lift and natural bust shape. Unfortunately, I have quite a shallow breast shape, so there is a little gapping to the top of the cup, but this doesn’t personally bother me.
My only real fit criticism is that the shoulder straps come up very long; I have quite a long torso, and I have to wear them on almost as tight as they can go. I suspect as the elastic stretches out, I will have to shorten them myself. Thankfully, this is a relatively easy alteration to make, whether by sewing machine or sewn by hand.
The knickers are a very comfortable fit. The fabrics are soft against the skin, and the plush elastics don’t pinch anywhere. I’m wearing a size EU 38/S in these, my usual Chantal Thomass size. In my experience, the knickers come up quite generously, and whilst in other brands I would wear a M/L, my collection of this designer is entirely XS/S. I would say this is partially down to the curvier cuts (for example, the ruching in the centre back of many knicker styles does wonders for the fit), and the fabrics often have a lot of stretch.
One note I would add about all of the brand’s garments is they have extremely long fabric/garment care labels. Fortunately these are easy to cut out, but until you remember to do that they have a tendency to emerge from the garment during wear and to flap about.
Overall, I’m incredibly happy I was able to add the Tombeuse set to my collection. It’s a beautiful design, and comfortable and practical enough for everyday wear. So far it’s held up well to multiple hand washings, and the fabrics and construction are of the high quality I have come to expect from the brand. I know that my future has many more Chantal Thomass sets in it… the only question is which to buy next!
Readers: Have you ever tried Chantal Thomass?