[Empreinte generously provided this set for review. I was not compensated for this post, and all thoughts and opinions are my own.]
This collection was one of the standout sets from the Spring/Summer 2019 trade shows. Empreinte is a French lingerie brand known for their classic shapes and intricate embroidery, but this collection is a true showstopper for them. A classic black background makes the set feel versatile and wearable, while the lush, gleaming floral embroidery in gorgeously mixed shades of red is both sweet and full of DRAMA, my favorite combo.
The Ashley collection contains a nice range of shapes, with two different bra styles, four coordinating knickers, and a striking camisole top. I received the full cup bra in an Empreinte size 34G and the panty in a French size 42/Large. The bra features a three panel cup, with a horizontal seam running across the center of the cup for forward projection and a vertical seam separating the bottom of the cup into two sections for lift. The bottom sections of the cup are crafted of two layers of a soft black tulle for extra support, while the top panel is a delicately sheer single layer. The top edge is picot-trimmed, with just a bit of stretch so there’s some flexibility. The band is continuous, with a double layer of tulle at the center gore (the part that sits between the two cups), switching over to soft opaque black microfiber for the wings, fastening with three rows and columns of hooks and eyes. The wide, sturdy straps are fully adjustable, and there are soft, slightly angled stays under the arms for extra support in the band.
A lush garden of embroidery blossoms across the cups, with ferns and vines interspersed among vibrant, gleaming poppies and pansies in varying shades of dark gray, coral, pink and red. I’ve seen this style of embroidery called laminated, lacquered, or waxed interchangeably, and it gives the piece a luminous, high-shine finish and a soft satiny feel. I adore how the mix of red, raspberry, and ballet pink come together to create a bright, almost pop art feel. This set is a little more glam, a little more rock-and-roll, than the words “classic, embroidered French lingerie set” would suggest!
The matching brief is one of Empreinte’s fuller coverage styles, and features a panel of stretch mesh overlaid with Art-Deco patterned stretch lace at the center front, with sheer embroidered tulle panels over the hips. The back of the brief is seamless and made from soft, stretchy opaque black microfiber. The waistline is elasticated and trimmed with picot, while the legline is finished with narrow elastic for a close, comfortable fit. The rise is moderate, so it does occasionally roll down under my belly, but I still find this cut very comfortable. The mesh and tulle are unbelievably soft, light, and breathable, perfect for the steamy summer weather we’re experiencing in NYC right now.
I decided to review the usual sizes I take in Empreinte (you can see my previous reviews of the gorgeous Elena collection and the Pompadour guêpière for more of this brand), even though the cup volume is currently just a touch small for me. I find that Empreinte’s bands stretch much more quickly than some of the UK brands’ bands do, so I can’t size up any more without losing support. I’m currently wearing a UK 32H most frequently, and considering that 34G fits fairly well here, I think that Empreinte’s cups run fuller than many other French brands, making it a great choice for people who might be sized out of Aubade or Simone Perele. I’ve also been told that this cup shape will be available up to an H cup for Fall/Winter 2019, so I’m eagerly looking forward to trying the new size! I tend to wear the straps on my Empreinte bras extended as far as they’ll go, so if your straps are sometimes too long for you, you may get along well with Empreinte.
I sometimes run into fit issues with cups that have this seam pattern, like the Panache Tango, but Empreinte has worked some kind of magic that gives me a softly rounded shape without pushing my boobs downward (for more on how seams can affect the shape and fit of your bra, check out this post). I’m a little full in the cup right now for this set to be a perfect fit, but I’d say if you usually wear a UK 34G/32GG, an Empreinte 34G would be a great starting point for finding your fit in this brand. As it stands now, I occasionally get overspill along the top of the cup, and I have to adjust the cups a little throughout the day to get the wires to rest against my ribcage. That’s a size issue, not a shape issue: I get the sense that this cup shape is a versatile one, and might be a great fit on a variety of breast shapes (although if you’re very full on top and between sizes, I’d recommend sizing up).
Because I’m a little big for this bra at the moment, it isn’t one I reach for ahead of a long day of work, but in the past when 34G has been a good size for me, Empreinte bras have been incredibly comfortable. I find they feel less “aggressive” than Bravissimo or Panache bras, so if you’re someone who wants super intense support and firm wires, these may feel more relaxed than what you’re used to. However, if you’re someone with more sensitive skin, or someone who finds that underwires and bra bands are occasionally just too firm for you, this collection would be a great one to try. The materials are soft, yet the embroidery retains its satiny shine, even after washing.
Empreinte lingerie retails at a solidly luxury price point, at least in the US: the Ashley bra retails for $200, with the coordinating briefs starting around $85+. Unlike boudoir-focused luxury brands like Agent Provocateur, however, these bras are designed for fit, comfort, and everyday support– they just happen to be gorgeous too. This particular shape from Empreinte (the full cup bra) also happens to be one of the only plus size luxury styles readily available on the market; it’s available up to a size 46 band. In addition, if you’re ever traveling outside the US, Empreinte is generally more affordable, and there are twice-yearly sales at their boutique in Paris where you can get a steal!
For more excellent reviews of the Empreinte Ashley collection, see the lovely Wen’s pieces at Comics Girls Need Bras, where she has a review of the lingerie set and a great lingerie-as-outerwear post!
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Robe: Vintage via Halcyon Vintage in Richmond, VA.
Photography: Sylvie Rosokoff
Psst: these cardamom-pistachio-chocolate-chip cookies come from one of my favorite recipes in the world, via the delightful Caroline.