It feels churlish to say this, but I almost wish some of the events of Lingerie Fashion Week had been scheduled differently. The first three events (the first runway show and first gallery presentation) were so unbelievably strong that they made it a bit hard for the later acts to follow. One of the later events was lovely and I think will look even stronger in retrospect without being compared to its predecessors, while the final act … well, I’ll get to it. I HAVE THOUGHTS.
I have been really interested to see the emphasis on loungewear (robes, chemises, camisoles, babydolls and the like) at this past weekend’s lingerie events. I may have a warped perspective since, as a full-bust lady, my boobs are my primary focus, both in terms of my lingerie budget and in terms of my interests, but my loungewear tends to be an afterthought (as in, I often just sleep in t-shirts or whatever underwear I wore that day. And now I feel slovenly). Having seen the gallery presentations on Saturday, however, I’m becoming more and more curious. Uye Surana, like Bijte, Naked Princess, Kriss Soonik, and others, is a lingerie/loungewear hybrid line, made in New York, that melds lingerie, daywear, and loungewear, creating versatile pieces that can be integrated into everyday outfits and interesting lingerie ensembles. It’s a tricky market, for me. As a full bust customer, my money tends to go to underwired bras, which have to win me over completely before I’ll even consider purchasing any of the accessories. “Loungerie” has to absolutely wow me from a fit, construction, technique, and design standpoint, and a lot of it just isn’t my cup of tea.
That being said (wow, I’m probably the least fun customer ever), the Uye Surana presentation was lovely. The brand is made in the USA, and the collection featured some of my favorite colors- a lovely bright magenta and rich, saturated blues.
The pieces are clean and simple. Having seen the A/W 2013 full-bust collections, many of which featured elegant embroidery or punchy prints, the spare, relaxed shapes and luscious, uninterrupted colors feel easy, confident, and feminine, yet still a bit edgy.
I kept coming back to this fun high-low slip and bralette. It’s a very spare, simple concept with a touch of whimsy in the shape. It would be fun and flirty to see it floating from under a straighter skirt, or layered over a colored skirt to dress up an otherwise basic look.
I love the almost athletic, sporty look on the model in the center, with her blue bralette and lighter brief. The look is coordinated with out being overly matchy. That being said, the side view of the pieces illustrates one of my major reservations about the collection. Apart from the bralettes and briefs, I found that the chemises and babydolls looked a little, well, like sacks. The shape is loose and unstructured, and it falls straight from the breasts, with no hint of the body beneath. As lovely as the black chemise above is (and it IS lovely– the black fabric is slightly sheer and ripples and waves with the body’s movement), it holds absolutely no appeal for me as part of my personal wardrobe. I don’t think every garment has to be form-fitting or ultra supportive, and indeed I’d hate for ALL loungewear to insist on all-hourglass figures all the time, but I also prefer to see some tailoring, draping, and thoughts for flattery in a piece. I think these pieces will look stunning on woman with a very slim frame and a very particular style, but they didn’t grab me personally the way the earlier collections did.
Saturday evening’s closing show was another runway presentation, this time from popular brands Affinitas & Parfait. Each brand offers bras and lingerie in sizes 30-38; Affinitas offers cup sizes A-DD, and Parfait offers cup sizes D-G (UK sizing). They’ve made quite a splash with their ultra-feminine colors and patterns and playful shapes (including bras, babydolls, basques, and longline bras), and their eminently reasonable prices help to amplify the appeal. I was looking forward to seeing the new collection, as I hadn’t seen many sets in person, and I was interested to see where the two lines diverged, or whether there was a strong sense of overall continuity between the ranges. I also hoped for an outstanding production. Sometimes full-bust brands can feel a little behind-the-times trend-wise or a little “safe.” I was interested to see if Affinitas would take advantage of the runway format to make a statement or tell a story, the way the FYI by Dani Read show did.
From the minute I saw this set (Affinitas’ “Georgina”) described as “Skin Nude” in the press packets, I felt a sense of foreboding. Once again, everyone, say it with me: Beige is NOT NUDE. No one’s skin is beige. This model, whose beauty truly made me gasp, is not beige. She’s wearing a pale, creamy almond-colored bra, and she looks absolutely, mind-blowingly lovely in it, but it is not the color of her skin, or indeed most people’s skin. Don’t make pretty lingerie terrible by calling it “Skin Nude” (ick).
I tried to shake off my discomfort and focus on the show. The models were all lovely, and fairly diverse in size and shape. I enjoyed seeing some new pieces, particularly Affinitas’ lovely “Charlize” chemise in Cream/Tan, with its discreet Swiss dots dressing up an otherwise simple shape and color.
However, as the show continued, the critic in me got louder than the lingerie enthusiast. The models looked bored, and their hair and makeup was pretty, but generic, to say the least. There was no styling, and there were no accessories; the music was aimless. I kept glancing down at my show notes, waiting for the Parfait segment to start, eager to see how the full-bust bras and other lingerie pieces fit.
I don’t have much to say about the styles that Miss Underpinnings didn’t cover in her excellent review (with much better pictures than mine). Several favorites have returned, including Charlotte in a really, really pretty dusty rose, against which the black seams just sing. There are two new babydolls, one with lace-covered padded cups and the other in an unpadded, floral style, and an excellent assortment of padded and cut-and-sew bras. New style “Celine” comes in black and purple with white polka dots, and both color ranges include a cute bra-sized camisole. Why am I still cranky?
Almost none of the Parfait models wore lingerie that fit them.
Bands were hooked on the tightest hooks and rode up between shoulder blades. Cups wrinkled and gaped, with enough room in each cup for some snacks. One model went down the runway in a pair of knickers at least two sizes too large for her that threatened to fall off before she made it backstage. Molded cups perched awkwardly in front of breasts that did not fill them; unlined cups drooped unhelpfully. The bras looked insecure, ill-fitting, uncomfortable, and, worse, cheap and generic. Having seen Parfait’s designs in person a few days later, I have to say that this impression does the brand a disservice.
At Curve I saw a collection full of thought, interest, and attention to detail. There’s a nice sense of relationship between Affinitas and Parfait, in terms of colors and shapes, yet each stands distinctly on its own. There are multiple style options in each range, so that women can pick and choose the bras and accessories that suit them best. One runway model suggested this sense of independent fun when she lifted the skirt of her babydoll to flash her brightly flowered knickers for the LingerieFW photographers. Many styles are retro-inspired with a fun modern kick– the longline bra is bright purple satin with subdued, silvery-gray lace, the briefs have sexy lace details, and pieces are trimmed with contrasting buttons instead of the expected bow or rosette. I keep wondering what impression Parfait could have made with some retro/pin-up makeup and hair styling, or hats, or parasols, or accessories, or an interesting, cheeky musical score (Fräulein Annie, for example, gets it oh-so-right in their swimwear video). I left the show feeling that Parfait had an opportunity to present a strong message to the fashion world that full-busts were worthy of interesting, directional, high-fashion design. Unfortunately, they wasted that opportunity.
I feel badly knocking the runway show, because each season’s collection is getting better and better. There are a few “safe” options, like the all-over lace padded bras, but there are also full-bust customers who will prefer those styles over the more unusual ones. Parfait has been bold about introducing new styles that take other brands a few seasons or even a few years to introduce (longlines, babydolls, high-waist knickers, etc.), trying unusual and unexpected color combinations, and bringing out interesting coordinates with suspenders and the like that are usually absent from “budget-friendly” lingerie. When I spoke with their brand representative, she confirmed that there are plans to expand the cup size range in future seasons, potentially up to a UK K-cup, although she didn’t have a specific release date ready to share. I’d advise someone interested in trying Parfait to seek it out in person, rather than relying on images from the runway show or even the catalogue (correctly-sized samples weren’t available for the model at the time of the shoot, and as such the fit isn’t shown to its best advantage in the press images either). Parfait is becoming more and more widely available; I’d love to see representations of good bra fitting follow suit.
Previous Lingerie Fashion Week Coverage: