Noe Undergarments is a brand-new luxury lifestyle brand that debuted earlier this year. The Autumn/Winter collection featured bold, sleek pieces like longline bras (in orange or black) with matching colorblocked knickers, a sheer mesh slip with opaque panels, sheer blouson thong bodysuits and sheer wide-legged jumpsuits, in a stylish palette of black, white, gray, orange, and neon yellow. The aesthetic is much more hip, and darker and edgier than some of the other shows from Lingerie Fashion Week, so I was looking forward to seeing what the Spring/Summer 2014 collection would bring.
Futuristic pink-haired robots, apparently.
Except it was actually pretty damned cool. I will confess that when the curtain went up on the gallery, my first thoughts were more in the “What???” range than the “Gasp! I love it!” range, like they were for Nevaeh. A row of pink-haired models stared eerily into middle distance, standing as still as possible on equally-spaced blocks. They were barefoot and wore thick black collars, with pale, colorless makeup.
Despite the fact that the Lingerie Usual Suspects (bras, knickers, slips, longlines, bustiers, bodysuits, suspenders, etc.) were all present and accounted for, I had a really hard time processing the looks. The styling, which was fantastic, and the direction, which was unsettling (in a weirdly cool/good way?), both contributed to this collection’s feeling a little cold and sterile to me, at least at first.
I associate lingerie, in my personal life, with intimacy, warmth, and even comfort. I’m a sensual, sensitive person with a lush frame, so my lingerie tends to have more volume, more softness, and more structure. The Noe collection seemed so sharp, so cold, and so still– who was supposed to wear it? And when? And what are the bike short/mesh legging things, above?
And then I looked at a fellow blogger, wearing a black version of the gown below, layered over a Karolina Laskowska harness and under a waspie corset by Angela Friedman, and realized “That girl. That girl is going to wear it, and she’s going to look incredible.”
It was weird to look at a collection and recognize on one hand that it held zero appeal for me (and I LOVE underwear, y’all;), while on the other hand recognizing that it was kind of amazing. It’s lingerie for a woman whose body, tastes, and temperament are so completely different from my own. While Nevaeh Intimates doesn’t make my bra size, for example, I could look at the collection and imagine what it would be like to wear it, and how much I’d like to be able to wear something like it one day. With Noe, I feel a little more at sea, a little more out of my element.
Part of me looks at the slip above and goes “I don’t get it.” It looks neither pretty, nor functional, nor comfortable TO ME. But does it look cool? Is it stylish? Is it very much A Look Of Its Own? Oh goodness yes.
I have been open from day one of this blog that my lingerie tastes, while they transcend hot pink and leopard print, are by no means unusual. I like classic shapes and styles, silks and mesh and lace, well-fitting bras, and pieces with echoes of the late 19th century or 1930s-1950s. Not coincidentally, those are decades whose shapes and silhouettes are particularly kind to curvier frames.
I will probably never find a sand-colored garment, like the slip above, pretty. Ever. But while “pretty” lingerie is a priority for me, there’s absolutely no rule that says that lingerie MUST be pretty. It can be weird, or dark, or creepy, or confusing. The Noe show was important, in that it reminds us all that lingerie is, like any other article of clothing, an element of personal style and self-expression. Not every woman shopping on a luxury budget is going to want Agent Provocateur, or even Rococo Dessous. She deserves lingerie that suits her tastes and her aesthetics.
I do wish we had received line sheets or lookbooks at the show; apparently the white top above is made of a very, very thin hammered leather, which is way more impressive than “hey, that top looks so wrinkly, why didn’t they steam it?”
The long red gown is a close second-favorite look, after the white longline bra and knicker set I mentioned above. Between my pole dancing classes and some of the indie designers I’ve found since beginning the blog, I am pleased to say that I’m really starting to like strappier, edgier designs. The gown’s dramatic plunging back, with its single vertical black strap, is spare, striking, and sexy. The red color is also completely delicious.
After several shows featuring girlier, more brightly colored or richly embellished lingerie, the Noe presentation was a bit of a shock to the system, but overall, particularly in retrospect, I enjoyed it. I liked seeing a lingerie presentation that didn’t rely on long curly hair and towering high heels for styling, a presentation that really challenged the viewer. Noe will definitely stay on my radar for future seasons, and I’m intrigued to see how the brand will grow.
What’s your take on the show? I had a long talk with Lindsay of That Je Ne Sais Quoi Sunday night after LingerieFW ended, and her response to the show was the complete opposite of mine (in that the curtain went up and she fell in love with it immediately). Is Noe intriguing to you? Are there any pieces that you really, really like? I’d love to hear your thoughts.