Here we go, Lingerie Fashion Week has started, and CurveNY is just a few days away! I’m going to try to keep up with timely coverage, lest I fall hopelessly behind, although in February I fell hopelessly behind, and yet we are all still here. As a reminder, the collections presented here are mostly for Spring/Summer 2014, so it’ll be a while before we get our hands on them. In the interim, let’s look at the pretty things.
LingerieFW kicked off Thursday night with a runway show featuring Bradelis New York (the name is inspired by the fleur-de-lis). Founded in New York City in 1994, followed by a move to Japan, the company specializes in elegant lingerie for smaller, petite frames, with an emphasis on creating show-stopping cleavage and support.
Bradelis bras are designed according to the “III Step System”. Bradelis New York takes the idea of tissue migration as a foundational principle: Step I bras are designed to pull breast tissue from the back and underarms forward and to the front of the body, to sculpt a more defined bust shape. Step II bras are designed to further shape and enhance the bust, and Step III bras are designed to be more revealing and open, showing off the decolletage. The same concepts are applied to knickers and shapewear: by wearing the appropriate foundation garments, the body will eventually mold to that shape. [Ed. er, allegedly. This seems a bit silly to me. I know that waist-training is a thing, but that involves super-duper steel-boned corsets, not powermesh. I can’t help but be highly, HIGHLY skeptical that any permanent body reshaping will result.]
There were some hints of this shaping approach in the show: one bra fastened with four rows of hooks and eyes (above), a rarity in the petite-to-average bust market, and while some of the knickers were dainty and revealing, still others provided a lot more coverage than might be expected. The deeper-backed bras and fuller-coverage knickers all help the undergarments to shape, lift, and contour the flesh.
Bradelis lingerie is deeply feminine, even girly: bras, babydolls, and sheer, blousy camisoles feature lots of lace, molded cups, frills, and floral prints, in a variety of delightful bright colors. I really like the fearlessness of the Spring/Summer 2014 colors. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a collection feature two different watercolor prints (both in pretty, floaty babydolls with ruffled hems), gleaming orange, pale aqua, ivory, fiery red, black, brown, lace, and a green tropical floral print, all in the same collection. Plus ruffles, frills, lace, and other feminine details will always find a place in my heart. While there aren’t any non-padded, non-contour bras, I have to admit that the shapes themselves are lovely. Aggressively rounded, uplifted, projected, and cleavage-y to be sure, but really lovely. I loved the attention paid to every detail: thongs with frilled waistbands, contrasting lace trim, knickers with lovely sheer lace across the rear, and leotard-back bras (what’s a leotard back, you ask?) that featured a solid, opaque bottom elastic and sheer lace leotard.
My impression of Bradelis before the show, without ever having visited the boutique or spent much time on the website, was that it was a pale, pretty, frilly brand for those who liked their lingerie to veer towards the cutesy. Having seen the runway show, I appreciate how much more the brand has to offer. Yes, there are ruffles and frills and bows, and yes, I will always love those, but I also really, really liked the variety of colors, mix of styles, and beautiful accessories. It’s so easy for lingerie to get stuck in the rut of black/white/red/beige/pastels. Bradelis’ colors and prints are daring, interesting, and pretty darned unusual, and to that end it’s a bit disappointing that, apart from the garments themselves, the runway show was a bit . . . generic.
The models themselves were lovely (and let us never forget to salute them, because their job is not easy), but they were nearly all white women, with uniformly long, wavy hair. They wore no jewelry or accessories. They walked down the runway, posed, walked back, and then took up positions on blocks for the photographers. The music was the most generic fashion show music you can imagine. It felt like imitation Victoria’s Secret. This is not a knock on Victoria’s Secret, necessarily, but I think Bradelis could offer so much more than imitation Victoria’s Secret. I would have been delighted to see hats, or different hairstyles, or gloves or stockings or parasols or some kitsch and some fun, silly music or SOMETHING that embraced and celebrated the brand’s unique aesthetic. The models had gorgeous smiles and posed playfully once the runway was over, and if the show had taken advantage of their personalities in a way that also reflected the brand’s, it could have been an extraordinary opening night.
Caro wrote a wonderful post about her visit to the Bradelis showroom and her experience of the … aggressive shaping approach. Bradelis seems to suit women with smaller frames and smaller busts (Caro found both the bands and cups to run a bit small), and I’d recommend the brand to a petite customer looking for extreme shaping and lifting: these bras are not designed to conform to your natural shape. Bras are available in sizes 30-36 C-G (US/EU– B, C, D, DD/E, F, G) approximately, with accessories and shapewear in sizes S, M, L.
Have you worn a Bradelis bra before? The brand is new to me, and I’d love to know what you think!