Lingerie

If you’re into lingerie, you’ve probably heard of the Turkish cult-favorite ELSE. If you’re not into lingerie, you might change your mind once you experience the soft, supportive and absurdly sexy designs of Ela Onur—founder of ELSE and heir to several generations of successful lingerie know-how. (Her family has been in the business for ages.)

We caught up with Ela in Paris to talk about her design inspirations, the secret to feeling confident all day long and how to buy exquisite statement pieces for yourself or that special someone.

ELSE lingerie

ELSE Baroque Underwire Tank Bra and Bikini 

You were born into the lingerie business. Tell us about your family of lingerie designers and craftsmen. 

I was involved in my family’s business before I started up ELSE. I worked in the production and export department, where I developed the technical skills that are the foundation of the work I do today. My husband recently joined the company as the CEO, which feels like a huge vote of confidence! Looking forward, we’ll see how the family legacy will grow.

How do you go about making lingerie that is also comfortable?

We start with exceptional materials! Our lace is both soft and strong, and our accessories (elastics, wires, hook-and-eye closures, etc.) meet the highest standards. For our soft bras, we use a special technique that provides support even without an underwire. We imagine ELSE women wearing our lingerie in comfort throughout the whole day, not just for special occasions.

HOW TO LACE UP: READ THE STORY

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Emily Bendell, founder of the London-based lingerie company Bluebella, is an Oxford graduate on a mission to embolden women through an erotic first layer. Since 2005, when Emily founded Bluebella, her goal has been to create lingerie that is both affordable and appealing to women of different sizes. Her arrestingly original designs produced in luxe fabrications don’t cut corners or cut uncomfortably into your curves.

Bluebella Lingerie, Nova Thong and bra

We spoke with Emily just after she returned from showing her new collection at Salon International de la Lingerie in Paris. Here’s what she told us about why you should buy your own lacy underthings, how to wear them now and why lingerie is about female empowerment, not submission—which is why she recruited British Olympians and Paralympians to model some of her seriously sultry styles.

Bluebell founder, Emily Bendell

Emily Bendell, founder, CEO and creative director of Bluebella lingerie

How did you come to start Bluebella?

My background is actually not in fashion. I studied politics and economics at Oxford University—so not your typical route into fashion, particularly not lingerie. Back when I was studying—I’ve always loved lingerie—I basically couldn’t find what I wanted, or what my friends wanted. I felt women had evolved. We no longer saw lingerie as this binary sexy or functional thing. But we saw it as a fashion crossover purchase, something that if it was pretty we might show a little bit under what we were wearing. And I wanted that modern, high-design, fashion-focused product but I couldn’t find it, certainly not at a price point I could afford. So I thought there was a gap.

LINGERIE FOR EVERY DAY: READ MORE

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Even the most toned bodies can sometimes feel a little vulnerable under today’s body-con dresses. Luckily, there’s a whole industry behind smoothing your behind (and other areas). Shapewear is as old as fashion itself. Corsets, petticoats, bustles and girdles seem to have existed in one form or another since the dawn of civilization. But good news for contemporary clotheshorses: modern materials are kinder than the cages and laces that dominated many slimming and lifting contraptions of yore.

Nevertheless, the variety of styles can be a bit intimidating as you select helpful underthings. For those uninitiated in the SPANX ranks, here’s a primer on the many types of shapewear and what each kind offers.

Yummie slip

Slips

Slips have long been used to smooth the silhouette under clingy dresses. Modern materials like spandex and nylon add even less bulk than traditional lingerie styles–and they help create a crisp canvas for fabrics like rayon and silk to move without revealing too much or bunching up beneath your sheath. While not advisable under super-tight dresses of the bandage or knit varieties, a shapewear slip keeps panty lines and bra straps at bay while subtly slimming the figure under thin fabrics and daring cuts.

SHOP: slips 

SHAPE UP: READ ABOUT OTHER STYLES

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If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then sensuality is in all five of the senses. We wouldn’t begin to tell you how to woo your paramour—you have your methods—but allow us to make a few immodest suggestions in the intimates department that might put a welcome, and inviting, spin on date night.

Hanky Panky Mesh bra and bikini

You probably don’t have anything like this sexy-cool set in your top drawer. Red lace and black mesh make your intentions unmistakable. Hanky Panky cute boyshorts and comfortable bralette both lend a laid-back charm to your tryst.

THIS WAY TO MORE LINGERIE

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Just Landed: Gifts from SPACE

In the Venn diagram of gifting, there’s a sweet spot where, well, sweet, intimate and stylish overlap. And there in that zone of awesomeness is this pajama top-and-boxer set from Araks—available now at SPACE, our shop for emerging and advanced designers.

space_nordstrom_gifts_main

 

The boyish cut and menswear-inspired fabrication? The short-short hem? All but guaranteed to make girlfriends both platonic and romantic swoon, swivel, and strike the best pose ever.

And what else is in that SPACE-wrapped box?

READ MORE >

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“There’s a certain quietness that comes with fewer options,” Land of Women founder Mckenzie Raley told us. And she’s so very right. Pop-In@Nordstrom New Classics is stoked to be carrying these minimalist, second-skin uniforms—easy yet complementary, comfortable yet sexy.

Land of Women founder Mackenzie Raley.

Boss lady Mckenzie Raley

There’s time to slip into something comfortable before checking out our full Q&A with the model-turned-designer after the jump.

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Agent Provocateur (AP), makers of fashion’s fiercest unmentionables for the last 19 years, is launching its first-ever diffusion line, L’Agent, in collaboration with Spanish ingenues Penélope and Mónica Cruz.

L’Agent embodies the seductiveness of AP’s core aesthetic, yet it’s designed with a comfortable, everyday approach to intimate apparel in terms of shapes, cuts and colors.

Leading AP’s legacy in lingerie is the brand’s creative director, Sarah Shotton, whom we phoned in London to get the lacy details on the collection, which is available online and in Nordstrom stores starting today.

HERO

Bound for Britain: Last summer, Penélope and Mónica camped out with Sarah at the London-based studio of AP to conceive and design the L’Agent collection

THE THREAD: Tell us how the partnership with the Cruz sisters got started!

SARAH SHOTTON: It began with a conversation on set. Mónica modeled for the AP fall/winter 2012 collection, and while she was getting her hair and makeup done for the shoot, we got to chatting. She mentioned that she and Penélope have been buying and collecting AP for about 15 or 16 years, if not more. Mónica said, “We love what you do. We love the brand. We love all the lingerie.” She just said that she and her sister really wanted to design lingerie and would love to work on a collaboration with us. At the time, Gary Hogarth, AP’s CEO, and I had already been discussing producing a wholesale line. So it was perfect timing and very organic. They adore the brand, and we adore them.

Lovely in Lingerie: Mónica Cruz was hand-picked by Sarah to model for AP’s fall/winter 2012 collection

THE THREAD: How involved were the Cruz sisters in designing the collection?

SARAH: We shot Mónica in April of 2012, and since then, we have been working closely together. This is not a collaboration where somebody else designs it and they just put their name on it. Penélope and Mónica have been actively involved in the creation of this line and have spent a fair share of time with me in London, conceiving ideas and looking through our archives.

We were three girls working together, having a giggle and designing what we want women to wear. It’s been really sweet because I was pregnant at the time, and then Mónica became pregnant, and then Penélope became pregnant. At one point, we were all pregnant. I had my “King George” nine months ago.

Sister, Sister: Penélope and Mónica have previously collaborated with two Spanish brands: Loewe, on a handbag line, and MANGO, on several clothing collections (photo by Mert and Marcus)

THE THREAD: L’Agent features 15 styles that range from bra and brief sets to basques and babydolls. How hard was it to narrow down the selection?

SARAH: It was really hard! We knew from the start that this would be an ongoing partnership [expected to last at least five years], so for some styles, we were like “That’s great for next season or the season after that.” I suppose for this launch collection, we had to design something that would have mass appeal. I think when you watch the campaign video that Penélope directed, you’ll see lots of different types of women, personalities and lifestyles, who are wearing lots of different types of lingerie.

Practical Panties: The Cruz sisters set out to design a range of lingerie that women could wear every day, and they gave each piece a Spanish woman’s name. Clockwise: ‘Isi’ Quarter Cup Bra & Low Rise Thong‘Zanita’ Bra & Thong and ‘Penélope’ Underwire Balcony Bra, Waspie & Brief

THE THREAD: How important is lingerie for the fashion-conscious woman?

SARAH: Lingerie is really important to women worldwide. It’s unbelievable, the trends in lingerie right now. When I started with AP 14 years ago, women were still a bit afraid of edgy, out-there lingerie, but not anymore. It’s almost like in the ’40s and ’50s. Women wore great lingerie because their dresses wouldn’t fit properly if they didn’t. Women who wanted a tiny waist and a pointy chest would wear underwear that created that effect.

I think the modern woman now knows that it’s important to have lingerie for different occasions and for different outfits. We all know it’s really important that, if you’re going to play sports, you wear a sports bra. I think we are more aware of creating a lingerie wardrobe today, especially after the book 50 Shades of Grey (which mentions the brand).

In the Director’s Chair: To celebrate the launch of L’Agent, Penélope makes her directorial debut in a film starring her husband, Javier Bardem (center), model Irina Shayk, and her sister Mónica, who was pregnant at the time

THE THREAD: What inspired Penélope to direct the campaign video?

SARAH: The video is something that Penélope really wanted to do. She was like “I haven’t directed anything before. I really want to direct my first piece for the L’Agent launch.” Penélope had an idea of a party, and I think she’d been dreaming about it for ages. I’ve never seen anyone work so hard. She was literally outlining the direction of the film non-stop—and pregnant at the same time! A lot of her friends and family were involved. It’s a very special piece with a funny little message at the end.

Spanish Style: The Madrid-born design duo wanted the collection to have an alluring Spanish point of view. L to R: ‘Rosalyn’ Quarter Cup Bra & Thong, ‘Mónica’ Bra & Tanga & ‘Penélope’ Underwire Balcony Bra

THE THREAD: Music and film have been cited as outlets for your design inspiration. Were there any films or characters played by Penélope that you felt came alive in the collection?

SARAH: It’s funny, because when we were working on this collection, they wanted the line to have a very Spanish feel, even in the colors they were thinking of—like red flamenco. Obviously, I love Penélope. She’s such a great actress and has played so many different types of characters. I would say there’s a lot of Volver in the line. She’s very sexy and voluptuous in that film, which is very L’Agent. There are also some aspects of her fiery character in the film Blow with Johnny Depp. She had a really strong attitude in that movie, and you can feel that in the bold and sassy pieces of the line.

Enchant. Entice. Empower. Transform in L’Agent.

Qianna Smith

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