It’s become something of a tradition for Affinitas & Parfait to present the closing runway show of Lingerie Fashion Week. It’s pretty fun seeing them on the runway: both brands make creative twists on classic shapes and styles at incredibly accessible price points. While I enjoy seeing the unusual or outlandish (like last year’s Rococo Dessous show), it’s also a real treat to see lingerie go down the runway and think “oh! I could wear that!” While the first two seasons’ shows were marred by some pretty terrible fit (not just in the bras) and some very bland styling, I was really happy to see that this season’s show stepped up its game.
First of all, we had lighting and set design! Hurray! The runway was lined with electric blue lights, with pretty projections of bare tree branches against the walls, and pedestals with white branches and violet flowers spilling out stood on either side of the runway. It lent the show the look and feel of a formal evening event, highlighting both collections’ more glamorous look.
In seasons past, the two brands have been styled differently, with Affinitas skewing younger and sweeter and Parfait sultrier and more grown-up. I enjoyed seeing how the show brought the two lines closer together in tone, so that the both sets of sizes felt equally sophisticated. Fall/Winter collections often feature darker colors, heavier embroidery, and sultrier looks, and Affinitas/Parfait was no exception, but the execution was wonderful, and there were some great surprises.
First of all, a huge round of applause from me: A+ styling. Boring beige shoes were replaced with some pretty kickass strappy black heels, the models with long hair all sported incredibly sleek low ponytails, there was some really great jewelry (the model at the top of the post in the new purple wine colorway for Parfait’s Charlotte bra? She is perfection), and stockings! The models who wore garments with suspenders wore stockings! All is right in my world.
Animal print looks to be huge for 2014, with popular Leslie getting a new blue animal colorway, but I really liked the rich “panther” colorway for Parfait’s molded plunge “Jeannie” style, above. Both brands presented some classic jewel tones, with Affinitas offering pretty purple and red versions of new style “Sasha”. Parfait brought out purple and turquoise for Charlotte and Danielle respectively, and I thought I wasn’t going to care for them, and then I got to see them up close and in person at Curve, and I have to say, the Peacock Blue version of Danielle is TO DIE FOR. I lurved it. Parfait, if you’re taking requests for the the next style to take up to a K-cup, Danielle Danielle Danielle gets my vote.
While black and jewel tones aren’t unusual for Fall/Winter, floral prints are, and I frankly think Parfait does a bang-up job with theirs. They offer an unusual mix of teal, brown, and pink against a lilac base, and it should be musty and fussy, and instead it just WORKS. But my favorite is the unusual black and red floral print for “Casey” below; I even looked across the aisle and mouthed “ooh, I LIKE that” to another writer, who responded with vigorous nods.
Two other styles really stood out to me, because my first response was also “ooh, I like that!”, only to be followed by “oh. That’s because I RECOGNIZE that.” Behold:
These are fantastic sets, don’t get me wrong. I love the polka dots on the “Kitty” babydoll, and if it came in my size I’d wear it in a freaking heartbeat. The scalloped edges and pinstripe details on the pink and black “Lea” collections are so striking. The problem?
They’ve already been done. Seriously, as these sets were coming down the runway I thought “Oh, look, Parfait’s done their own Marcie,” and then “Wow, that Affinitas set reminds me of Ritzy.” I know the lines between copying and inspiration can sometimes be fuzzy, but considering the Marcie babydoll was one of the most insanely popular full-bust pieces to hit the market in 2013 (not to mention Ewa Michalak’s babydoll, which also featured ribbon trim and a ruffled skirt), Parfait’s version hits a little too close for comfort. What do you think? Am I overreacting, or do you see it too?
That discomfort aside, I feel like Affinitas and Parfait finally realized that they had a chance to present, you know, a SHOW, and they upped the glam beautifully. The show felt edited, which consequently made each look feel more special.
The changes Parfait/Affinitas made for their show, along with strong choices from other brands that showed (like the string quartet for Layneau and the aerialists for Kix’ies) make me really hopeful about future seasons of Lingerie Fashion Week. I’d love to attend a season where every brand embraces the opportunity to tell their own unique story. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: it’s not enough to put a pretty girl in underwear and send her down the runway. The shows that feel like walking catalogues are forgettable; the shows that feel like, you know, shows, where I leave with a stronger understanding of the brand and their style, those are opportunities for lingerie brands to reach out to fashion buyers and consumers who might be new to lingerie, and who might begin to treat lingerie as an integral part of their personal style and fashion identity.
Along those lines, some thoughts on the closing of Lingerie Fashion Week: whenever a new endeavor of this scale is starting out, there are bound to be hiccups. This is only Lingerie Fashion Week’s third season, and it was the first season in a brand-new venue. I hope the event continues to grow, to attract new designers and collaborators and journalists and artists, and to really showcase lingerie as a force in the fashion world. However, this season was undeniably odd, and I left the final show feeling underwhelmed, irritated, and stressed out.
Every single show began at least an hour late, and the Affinitas/Parfait show was a full two hours late, leaving guests standing around to wait with ever-decreasing patience for doors to open. The new venue is bigger and ostensibly more efficient, yet it’s in an isolated location, meaning that there were no nearby bars or restaurants where guests could leave to get food in the event (as it happened) that shows ran late and no food was served on-site. Finally, the crowds are growing larger, which is great, but lingerie writers and buyers are increasingly getting shifted to the back rows, to standing room only, or to the entrance to the catwalk, where views (and photos) are obstructed, making it increasingly difficult to cover the shows thoughtfully or well (I was able to slip into a front row no-show’s seat to cover Parfait and Affinitas; my assigned seat was behind a pillar).
Worst of all, invited guests at the Parfait/Affinitas show had two hours to kill during which the only thing to do at the venue was drink, and many of them did just that, which led to a show filled with chatter, disturbances, yelling, and, jeez, I can’t believe I’m about to say this, cat-calling and wolf-whistling at the models as they walked. Some of the invited guests seem to have confused an actual industry event with lingerie football; I even read a really sickening piece (no, I’m not linking to it, because it’s garbage, and I don’t want to give him the pageviews) by an alleged fashion writer bemoaning the fact that Lingerie Fashion Week was too boring and serious, the guests weren’t dressed fashionably enough (fuck you dude: I wore HEELS for this), and the models were unattractive: “LFW must start bringing in better looking quality models, for the sake of the show and the brands they work with. Goodlooking models make clothing look better, plain and simple, its the reason the fashion world and modeling worlds exist. Let’s be honest, more so with lingerie than any other fashion wear, people need to want to f*ck the models because the lingerie looks so good, that unfortunately happens rarely with the current model groups.” Gross. [UPDATE: I have just received confirmation that the blogger in question was not invited by Lingerie Fashion Week organizers. Rather, this person RSVP’d directly to a designer.]
And actually, jackass, LFW’s models are consistently great; with the exception of the Bradelis show, I saw a really wonderful (and undeniably beautiful) range of racial, age, and body diversity, even more than you might see at “real” fashion week. I’d love to see more! A full-figure brand’s show! A show with more ages represented! A show that included models with disabilities! A show with athletes and artists! Another fun burlesque runway performance like last year’s Secrets in Lace show! But more importantly, the kind of “journalist” who thinks lingerie is about turning him on, or presenting him with spank bank fodder? Why is that guy there? Seriously. It’s a free country bro, so you have the right to be a dickhead, but I don’t understand why he was an invited guest at the shows. In what possible world is “people need to want to f*ck the models” a professional or appropriate piece of fashion journalism?
I love that there’s a fashion event solely dedicated to lingerie, and I am grateful and thankful that I am lucky enough to attend it. I don’t envy the uphill climb the organizers face as they continue to expand and take on more challenging logistics. I really, really hope that this season’s event and some of the accompanying traffic jams and hiccups have provided a clear road map of some of the logistics that will need to be tackled before August’s shows. I want so much for the LFW to become a major player in the industry, but right now at the end of the season I’m feeling pretty exhausted and disappointed.