By far one of the highlights of shooting the Curvy Girl’s Bridal Trousseau editorial earlier this year was getting the chance to swan around in Harlow & Fox‘s sumptuous silk robes. At the time (April) I was outside the Harlow & Fox size range for bras and knickers, but I was so honored that Leanna Williams, Harlow & Fox’s brilliant creator and designer, lent me these two items to wear for the feature. As lovely as they look in photos, they are something else entirely in real life. Wearing these robes (along with wearing my lovely silk ruffled knickers from Angela Friedman) was my first taste of what it feels like to wear luxury lingerie.
There’s really nothing that feels like silk, and there’s nothing that compares to wearing something that you feel is just PERFECTLY designed: from seams to lace placement to sleeve shape to length, there is such care and attention paid to the materials, the color (ohhh the colors are perfect), the fit, the construction, and the look that it’s really impossible to imagine anything better. I’ve seen pieces from some of the bigger luxury lingerie labels that I think are lovely or interesting or pretty, but Harlow & Fox stands head and shoulders above them for pure elegance and flawless execution.
We shot all the photos for the bridal feature back in April, and I sadly packed up the beautiful robes and returned them to Leanna in England. Flash-forward to August, when Leanna partnered with the talented Angela Friedman to host a trunk show in Southampton a few days after the end of CurveNY. I made an appointment to preview Leanna’s S/S15 collection during market week, and once we were finished oohing and ahhing over the beautiful things, Leanna mentioned that she’d brought a full size run of her Eleanor collection for the trunk show, and would I be interested in trying on the bra, as my size had changed since April?
And that’s how I found myself being a lingerie model with the lovely Miss Underpinnings (left, above) in a gorgeous home in Southampton one sunny Friday afternoon.
Yes, it was awesome. This house had actual, like, grounds. It was like being in someone’s country seat for a Jeeves and Wooster/Downton Abbey-style weekend-in-the-country, and if you don’t think that was RIGHT UP MY ALLEY then you don’t even know me at all. But back to the lingerie: while I obviously can’t speak to what it’s like to wear the pieces over an extended period of time, I did spend 5-6 glorious hours in them, and I’m here to tell you all about it.
The Eleanor collection is an iconic group from Harlow & Fox’s debut season that’s since expanded to include a new colorway (the lovely mink, which Krista reviewed for The Lingerie Addict) as well as a few new pieces. The bra in the Almond colorway features soft, pale silk cups with a silk side panel to pull the breast tissue forward and a beautiful ivory Leavers lace top section. A small pearl drop sits at the center gore, and the band is made of the same silk, closing with two rows of three columns of hooks and eyes. Miss Underpinnings (who has her own set and reviewed it here) and I each wore the Eleanor bra and classic brief, which features a lovely little keyhole detail in the back.
Miss Underpinnings advised that she wears her sister size (one band size larger and one cup size smaller than she usually wears) in Harlow & Fox, as silk isn’t as stretchy as some of the synthetic meshes most full-bust brands use. I found that to be the case for me as well: not only is the band a little firmer than some of my other bras, I neither need nor want to stretch it out to its fullest capacity. I did find the knickers a little on the small side: I’ve been wearing a smaller size in Freya, Curvy Kate, and Bravissimo knickers lately, but with Harlow & Fox I preferred one size up for a little more coverage.
It’s been a real education trying lots of the newer full-bust brands in their first, or even second or third, seasons. I’ve also been working as a fit model with Crème Bralée as they work to expand their size range, and it’s made me realize how straight up DIFFICULT it is to design full-bust bras. There is a LOT to be considered when it comes to good fit in a full-bust bra, there are countless tiny tweaks and corrections that have to be made with each pattern adjustment, and I’ve never yet met a brand who nailed the fit right out of the gate. Until now. From comfortable wire placement, perfect strap length, adequate cup depth, and a gentle, natural lift and shape, Harlow & Fox has blown me away.
Not only is the shape and support fantastic, can we talk about what it feels like to wear a bra that’s basically a soft silken cloud? No thin scratchy mesh, no exposed seams, no irritating synthetic lace: just silk inside and out, with delicate Leavers lace on top. In fact, let’s also talk about the lace, while we’re at it, and how it’s open at the top to allow room for slightly fuller breasts yet backed with a layer of mesh for support, while remaining delicate enough to provide a really beautiful neckline. Many of the guests at the trunk show were surprised to discover how smooth the bra looks under clothes: even though it’s seamed and has lace, because the fit is so good and the construction so immaculate, the bra disappears really well under a variety of tops and dresses.
You’ll also note that we each got to wear the coordinating Eleanor robe in beautiful almond silk georgette trimmed with the same ivory Leavers lace as the bra. These robes are magical– light, flowing, and delicate, and while there’s plenty of room for busts at the larger end of Harlow & Fox’s size range (like, erm, mine), they’re designed to drape softly on smaller busts too without looking droopy. At my height (5’10”) the elasticated waist falls where an empire waist does, on shorter ladies and those on the smaller end of the full-bust spectrum, the waist might fall lower on the torso. Both silhouettes look classic and delicate.
Rounding out the Eleanor collection are a coordinating thong, lace-trimmed suspender belt (gorgeous) and a long, magnificent draped-back gown (in two sets of sizes: S, M, L/D-F and S, M, L/FF-G). As I found to be the case with both the Sophia robe and the Eleanor robe, the Eleanor gown, with its clever construction and beautiful bias-cut silk, offers a bit of size flexibility and might be a great choice for someone just outside the size range for Harlow & Fox’s bras. Spring/Summer 2015 will see the launch of a new addition to the Eleanor collection in the form of a lovely, lace-trimmed half slip.
A trunk show is a really fun opportunity to see people of all shapes, sizes, and ages try on lingerie you might previously have only seen on a model. I gave bra fittings to lots of different women, almost all of whom loved the fit, feel, and shape of the Eleanor bra. As this is a classic shape for Harlow & Fox that recurs across many of the other collections, once you find your size in Eleanor you’re good to go for the other styles. My favorite customer was an older woman who tried it on for literally 90 seconds and then said “It’s great, I’ll take three, what colors do you have? Scarlet? There’s a tassel on it? Let’s do it.”
From corsets to sheer slips to silk bras and tasseled robes, it was an afternoon filled with some of the loveliest lingerie from two of my favorite independent designers. I kind of want these two to partner together all the time; there’s a shared respect for sophistication, elegance, creativity, and beauty throughout both designers’ work. Once the trunk show guests had left, those of us who were staying the weekend immediately began playing dress-up with the samples, and I’ll leave you with photographic evidence of our ridiculousness in closing.
All photos courtesy The Lingerie Lesbian, because I was too busy admiring my own self to actually take pictures for my blog.
Harlow & Fox Official Site
Angela Friedman Official Site