Claudette has absolutely exploded since their debut in 2011. From an incredibly stylish launch with a variety of retro-yet-modern styles and their signature mesh “Dessous” that went up to a G-cup, they’ve generated huge buzz and been picked up by stores large and small alike. The new season promises to be better than ever. ALL new styles are offered in the full size range: 28-38 A-G (UK), which is thrilling for customers who missed out on some styles the first few seasons.
As exciting as CurveNY was, after a while some designs started to feel . . . familiar. The issue of inspiration and borrowing when it comes to design has been a hot-button topic in the fashion community for a while now, yet Claudette feels particularly fresh for A/W 2013, especially for a full-bust line. Claudette has been smart about slowly building their collections, tweaking fit, and adapting existing styles even as major retailers like ASOS, BareNecessities, Figleaves, and Urban Outfitters started stocking their pieces.
Far from coating the cups in lace or embroidery or reverting to cutesy, lollipop prints, Claudette’s A/W 2013 is unexpectedly and unabashedly grown-up. With a focus on unique color pairings, contrast trim, and sophisticated accessories, and gambling on a single print, the collection is beautifully cohesive, elegant, and sexy.
Dessous put Claudette on the map with its bright neon mesh and contrasting bows. Despite the fact that this is, in my opinion, Claudette’s least groundbreaking design (Miss Mandalay and others have been doing neon mesh and contrast trim for several years), they frankly marketed the hell out of it and it remains enormously popular.
The new colors might be my favorite yet: Chinchilla/Lipgloss (a gorgeous grey with bright pink trim), True Blue/Lipgloss (bright navy), Oxblood/Lipgloss (Oxblood has been a major fashion color for the last few seasons), and Tomato Soup/Phlox (Bok, Claudette’s designer, said she literally matched color swatches to a bowl of tomato soup to hit the right shade).
If neon isn’t your bag, Dessous is also available in Black and Mauve, as well as American Tan and a new Sandstone color for Spring/Summer 2013, both trimmed in Navy. I really love these two neutral options as alternatives to the dreaded “nude”. The colors seem intentional and well-considered, instead of just defaults.
The print for the A/W 2013 collection is snakeskin, and if you’d told me that without showing it to me I would have wrinkled my nose. It’s tough to woo me to animal prints in general, and I’ve never lost my heart to snakeskin anything. I have to admit that it looks pretty fantastic in real life, especially in the richer purple shade. Both Dessous and the Satin Ouvert (more below) will be available in snakeskin in various colors: a classic silvery gray (Satin Ouvert), Dark Grape, and Lipgloss (Dessous).
All Dessous sets include a gorgeous matching brief with a ruched back seam for a form-fitting look, as well as a thong, both trimmed with contrast bows. The Claudette team were generous enough to give me a Dessous Leopard thong to try after our discussion. Y’all know that I think thongs are evil instruments of torture, but WOW. This cut fits really beautifully (I found it to run a size smaller than Freya but with a slightly higher rise than Cleo, for what it’s worth). I might be a grudging thong (and leopard-print!) convert.
Claudette again shows off its knack for the unexpected by releasing its first convertible/strapless bra not in the typical black or beige but in a bold solid purple (Black Grape with Phlox trim) and deep purple snake print.
The detachable straps are a beautiful grosgrain.
This is a really fun change of pace for a strapless bra, and apart from Freya I can’t really think of anyone who’s offered a colorful convertible bra in D-G sizes (certainly not as the debut colors). I adore the Black Grape, and I’m waiting with ever-decreasing patience for my size to appear.
Sophia was the style that most caught my eye when Claudette debuted, and I was deeply disappointed that it was available in a limited size range. I’m thrilled that the style now goes up to a G, so that more women can bask in its loveliness. Claudette has dropped the color-blocking of earlier seasons (Bok told us she wasn’t satisfied when the color-blocking scaled up to the full cup size range, so they changed the pattern rather than exclude any sizes) and has instead gone for bursts of bold, saturated colors with black stretch velvet trim, flat black bows, and detailed accessories: a high-waisted knicker features detachable suspenders, and an otherwise classic brief is trimmed with cheeky back ruffles.
I didn’t get to see the color below in person, but I love both the soft turquoise and the sassy boyshort– this is a fun change of pace for women who shy away from traditional lingerie colors or the girlier accessories.
Fishnet is a brand new range for Claudette, and like the original Dessous line it makes a big visual impact. The weave is more open than Dessous (hence the “fishnet”), yet it still offers firm support, and bras are available in two different shapes: a two-part balconette cup with a curving, across-the-bust seam and a “double cup” bra made up of a demi bra with vertical center seam and an external side support. Available in Neon Turquoise, Neon Pink, and Neon Purple with wide black trim, the range winks at retro styling while still feeling absolutely fresh and new. Rather than a classic bikini brief or thong, Claudette offers two more unusual choices: a high-waist Retro Suspender Panty (which I obviously adore) or a Tanga.
Okay, seriously, now we’re getting to the big leagues. These are a bit of a gamble for the American market, as one thing I heard over and over again at Curve was that European and UK brands notice a distinct difference in American preferences versus the UK/Europe markets. American customers have historically wanted smooth, molded, “invisible” bras and seem to have an overall horror of seams and embellishment (although this seems to be changing). It looks like the gamble is going to pay off, as the Claudette team told us that the Ouvert range was one of their most popular products at Curve. “Ouvert” is French for “open”, and in the lingerie world it’s often associated with knickers that have a very open back with just a few straps or ribbons holding them up (Damaris is one of the greats for ouvert knickers). Claudette takes the ouvert concept and runs with it, presenting a stunningly luxe satin bra with a line of fully functional buttons running down each cup, as well as a matching satin bikini with a very discreet open crotch and more functional buttons running down the center back. Both the brief and the bra can be fully unbuttoned before being removed (for those who aren’t as interested in the button-back brief, there’s also a beautiful coordinating side tie brief).
Again, I love that Claudette never defaults to black/beige/pink/classic red. There’s nothing wrong with those colors, but they’re EVERYWHERE. Oxblood, Snake, and Navy for the launch of a new style are far more unexpected and intriguing.
I’m used to seeing “sexytimes” revealing lingerie that is . . . well, smutty. Cheap and smutty. NOT THAT THERE’S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT. Cheap and smutty can also be fun and hot. Either that, or the revealing stuff is also the high-end luxury designer stuff, and as such is prohibitively expensive. But this? This feels fantastic. It’s sophisticated lingerie for a woman who knows herself and her fabulous body, with a price point that’s much more accessible than, say, Agent Provocatuer or La Perla. I can see the wearer performing a slow, lingering striptease or allowing her partner remove each piece ever-so-slowly, one button at a time. There’s nothing cutesy or precious or coy about it; it’s grown-up, gorgeous, and powerful.
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Claudette remains a brand to watch. They’ve been smart about their designs and size ranges, even as keeping up with production demands has surely been a challenge. They’ve added 28 backs and tweaked their fit and handle in response to feedback, and they’re working steadily towards expanding their cup sizes. Their social media presence is fun and engaged. Bok and Lindsey reported that we can expect to see GG and H cups within the next two years, with more cup sizes to follow and a goal of reaching a K-cup before too long. I for one will be very interested to try Claudette once my size is available. I have heard wildly varying fit reports, from women for whom this is indeed their “new favorite bra” (as Claudette’s slogan promises) to women who struggle to find a size that suits their shape and frame. I can’t wait to take these styles out for a spin. What do you think of the Autumn/Winter 2013 collection? Are you excited for the new styles, or do you prefer more classic looks?