Much as discovering Bravissimo radically changed my understanding of all that D+ bras could be and do, discovering Kiss Me Deadly via The Lingerie Addict radically changed my understanding of the lingerie world as a whole. For much of my life I knew that bras came from the Gap, Macy’s, and other department stores, and I knew we wore panties with our bras, but I had NO IDEA of the sheer scope and awesomeness of the independent lingerie market.
Kiss Me Deadly is the brainchild of Catherine Clavering, author of the most recent entry in The Lingerie Addict’s powerful Diversity is More than a Bra Size series: What it’s Like to be a Woman with a Disability in the Lingerie Industry. Her passion for her products, her models, her customers, and her company is inspiring and infectious. Kiss Me Deadly is . . . you guys, there just isn’t anything else like it. Retro-inspired lingerie that eschews the silliness of cheesecake in favor of the thrillingly femme fatale. Each campaign features a stunning model staring down the camera with a fierce expression and a weapon of some kind. For Autumn 2012’s fairy tale collection, Cinderella prepared to stab with a stiletto, Red Riding Hood wielded the huntsman’s axe, and Rapunzel dangled a threatening noose made of her long, long hair.
For Spring 2013, the product shots subvert sexist “a woman’s place is in the home” stereotypes with snarky, slightly threatening, almost gleeful elan.
Kiss Me Deadly offers a few staple styles like retro 6- and 8-strap suspender belts, longline girdles, authentic fully-fashioned seamed stockings, and pin-up knickers in addition to limited collection styles designed around unusual lace, bold colors, or beloved vintage garments. They have an engaging and passionate social media presence, and customer service is exemplary. Julia Lambert gave me a gorgeous KMD plum longline girdle for my birthday last year, and I knew I couldn’t wait to continue adding to my collection.
While I hemmed and hawed and dithered about deciding which piece to try next, Catherine took the decision out of my hands one day a few weeks ago by emailing me to say Hello, would I like some lingerie? THESE EMAILS WILL ALWAYS BE THE BEST EMAILS.
She generously offered to send me the Pink Alouette collection, pictured above (with the knives), to review, and offered to give an additional set to one of my readers! Giveaway details will follow; for now, allow me to whet your appetite.
Catherine suggested I try one of two different collections, and I chose Pink Alouette in part because as much as I love my plum girdle, I’ve come to the sad conclusion that I’m too short-waisted for it, despite my height. It winds up riding up my back and bunching, rather than creating a smooth line, and I suspected that the waist cincher pictured above might suit my proportions better. As Kiss Me Deadly is a small independent company, they understandably can’t make every bra size in the world, so I asked them to send everything but the bra in my size, and the bra in Roommate’s size so that she could review it for me. If I were a nice person I would have asked for everything in Roommate’s size and let her keep the whole thing, but as Sweet Nothings is my creation and I am an arbitrary god … sorry Roommate. Them’s the breaks.
The Bra: The bra is a seamed, padded, open, super-plunge style with fully adjustable straps and three columns of two rows of hooks-and-eyes. The cups feature a pale, almost dusky pink background, overlaid with black floral lace. The center gore is very, very low-cut: in fact, it’s just a narrow strip connecting the two cups, augmented with a puffy, gauzy bow. Roommate confessed that she normally shies away from overtly feminine details like bows, lace, and pink (although she said her boyfriend is going to love it), but in classic Kiss Me Deadly fashion, there’s something a little slinkier and sultrier about this. The straps are quite thin, and the bows will likely peek out of some dresses and tops for a little flirty “hello”. Roommate usually prefers padded or molded bras is a fan, so Pink Alouette is a winner on that front, and she liked how open this neckline is.
The cups, in her usual size, were a perfect fit. They feature small “cutlets” of padding that can be removed, and she liked that they lie in the bottom of the cup, gently nudging from below rather than covering the whole breast in a thick layer of padding. Their effect is a subtle one, ever-so-slightly lifting the breast tissue higher. This plunge bra isn’t so much cleavage-producing as it is cleavage-revealing.
One important thing to note is that we found the band to run significantly looser than some of her other bras. She was wearing a new Josie by Natori bra the day we met up to try the set out, and Alouette’s band was noticeably longer than her other bra. She still finds the bra very comfortable (I’m the one who’s always trying to convince her that slightly firmer bands won’t kill her), but it’s not going to be a running-errands kind of bra. A Kiss Me Deadly Dame has minions for things like that anyway.
The Waist Cincher: According to the measurement charts I should just barely fit into one size, yet both the waist cincher and my longline girdle have felt– not exactly loose or too big, but definitely not restrictive. I still recommend sizing down if you’re between sizes on the KMD size chart, but this time I around I’ve considered that rather than trying a smaller size myself, which might put too much strain on the materials, both garments are meant to be gentle smoothers rather than intense shapers. For major reduction and control your best bet is a Rago girdle or a proper corset with inflexible materials and steel boning. Both my waist cincher and my longline girdle, on the other hand, are meant to complete an ensemble, while giving a smooth, polished appearance.
The Alouette waist cincher is a MUCH better option for me, with my short-waistedness. It features a center panel of the same pink/black lace materials as the bra, seven flexible vertical bones, six removable suspenders with metal hardware, and three columns of ten rows of hooks and eyes. The sides are made of high-quality black mesh, and the center front panel is topped with the same puffy bow that adorned the bra.
Three bands of horizontal elastic circle the waist to gently highlight it. It doesn’t feature any of the more contemporary features we associate with shapewear, like the silicon grippy strips that edged both the brief and bra in my Freya Shape set, and for that reason it feels softer, gentler, and more comfortable. This is just SUCH a femme fatale piece of lingerie– those six wide black suspenders mean BUSINESS.
The Brief: The brief is a beautiful, classic brief in black mesh with the same pink/black lace center panel as the bra and waist cincher, although this time the bow pops up at the center back. I found it to run true to size, although definitely lower-cut than I’ve gotten used to lately, with my sudden but deep love of giant cotton knickers. There’s a time and a place for giant cotton knickers, however, and it’s most emphatically NOT when one is wearing lingerie that is otherwise so extraordinary.
The Stockings: I WAS NOT EXPECTING THESE. HOLY PANTS I LOVE THEM. They’re pink (not ballet pink, not raspberry, just . . . pink. Rose pink? Wonderful pink) stretch seamed stockings, featuring a divine black heel and black backseam, leading to deep black tops to fasten to your suspenders. They’re one-size-fits-all, and, well, they almost don’t, but I’m gonna tug them up VERY VERY gently as high as I can and adjust my suspenders to their longest possible length, because they are magnificent.
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Julia Lambert and I were talking over gchat about Kiss Me Deadly, and I asked her to tell me why it struck such a chord with her. She mentioned, of course, their commitment to responsible manufacturing, their active and charming social media presence, and her desire to support independent business, but then she turned more to lingerie, what it means to us, and how we feel about it. She described the Kiss Me Deadly world as one that offers a “wearable, yet theatrical, vision of fierce, powerful ladies in their underwear.” While the photos are certainly stylized (and stylish), they don’t feel sanitized or soft-focused: it’s strong, it’s fun, and it’s inspiring. I love Kiss Me Deadly for creating out-of-the-ordinary yet utterly wearable lingerie that taps into my imagination, with a dash of saucy glamour. We don’t have to wear a full ensemble every day, yet I firmly believe that every woman deserves to look beyond the “practical” or “necessary” if she wants to. We’re people– we change every day. Our desires and fantasies and feelings are always in flux, and sometimes they surprise us. Kiss Me Deadly allows us to go exploring.
Do you love the Pink Alouette collection as much as I do? Check back next week to find out how to win a set of your own!