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August 28 2014

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32 posts tagged "Victoria’s Secret"

You Don’t Need a Lover to Love Lingerie

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Horst P Horst

I can’t deny it, I love lingerie. I do. I have drawers full of the stuff—saucy bras, basques, corsets, skivvies, you name it. I usually buy my extravagant unmentionables on a whim—not for some romantic occasion—and I’ve never given it a second thought. So naturally, I was very excited when The Museum at FIT announced its current exhibition, Exposed: A History of Lingerie (on view until November 15). However, the news of the show broke at a time when a new wave of feminism seemed to be at the center of most of my conversations. Prada’s feminist Spring ’14 was in stores (“I want to inspire women to struggle,” Miuccia Prada told Tim Blanks after her powerful show), as was Rick Owens’ sporty Spring range, which was presented on muscular American step dancers. And, of course, there was Anja Rubik’s Free the Nipple campaign, as well as the fight against Instagram to allow women to proudly display their breasts without being banished from the social platform. So after pondering all of the above, I, a woman who considers herself to be a feminist, suddenly thought, Good God, I’m a terrible hypocrite for loving sexy, lacy lingerie.

To be sure, there’s something empowering about secretly donning ornate underwear and thigh-high stockings beneath my boxy Comme des Garçons frocks. But lingerie is often thought of as appealing to the male gaze. And you can’t tell me that crotch-less panties, sheer lace bras, and little satin onesies weren’t produced with the male viewer—or at least sex—in mind. Is the case of my lingerie the same? Do I love it only because I’ve been trained to love it by watching old Sophia Loren films and reading too many magazines? Can I be a feminist and embrace delicate underpinnings?

Red Corset“Absolutely,” offered Colleen Hill, the curator behind the FIT show, which includes everything from 18th-century corsets to Hanky Pankys.”I think that nowadays, particularly since we have options—we’re not forced into wearing a corset or a push-up bra or anything that may have been somewhat more dictated in the past. You can absolutely love to wear basically any item of clothing for yourself and be a feminist.”

Let’s explore those corsets and things of the past. Something about a garment that suffocates a woman—often to the point of fainting—in order to enhance her bust and taper her waist seems pretty antifeminist to me. But perhaps that’s because the corset could be qualified as antifeminine. That is to say, it was originally designed for men. “Men had been wearing corsets for hundreds of years before women,” explained Carlis Pistol, the go-to couture corset-maker for everyone from Oprah to Sarah Jessica Parker. “It started in the medieval period, and when the 16th century came along, they began making corsets for women. I think women were looking for a new silhouette, and in wearing corsets, it showed that women could do what men could do.” Wait, so does that make the corset the ultimate feminist garment?

Ferris Corsets

According to Hill, corsets were often worn for medical reasons (actually, one of the sexiest corsets in the show, a bright red number from 1889, above, was marketed as a health corset), particularly to correct one’s posture. Because of that, they were initially quite plain. “They were modest garments—a lot of them during the 19th century were just white or black or brown. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that you start to see colors and decorative elements,” said Hill. It was at that time, too, that “the idea of beautiful undergarments in relation to a happy marriage began to be talked about a lot more.”

There it is. The shift. The point when men took away our lovely lingerie. It wasn’t until the mid 1970s that Chantal Thomass, the queen of contemporary French lingerie, brought back the concept of decorative underthings for her, not him (below, right). “It was actually really unfashionable at the time,” said Hill of Thomass’ more traditional styles. Indeed, Thomass’ aesthetic was a strict departure from the ’60s feminist movement’s “burn the bra” mentality. In fact, when Thomass introduced her line, the unstructured “no-bra bra”—a sheer brassiere designed by Rudi Gernreich, the same man responsible for the monokini—was all the rage (below, left). But in the end, Thomass prevailed (and her brand still exists today). “I think by the 1980s, this idea that you could embrace this really feminine style of lingerie as a way to please yourself as a woman was finally accepted,” Hill added.

Chantal

“In the ’60s, women were like, ‘I’m tired. I’m not even going to wear a bra. I don’t want to feel like I have to be a slave—like I’m bound,” said Jennifer Zuccarini, a Victoria’s Secret alum who cofounded Kiki de Montparnasse before launching her current lingerie label, Fleur du Mal. “Then you get to the ’80s, when fashion was all about lingerie. It was like [women] really took it back. We made it our own, and that was very empowering.”

But what about the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, where supermodels strut down a runway wearing next to nothing? Where does that fit into lingerie’s girl-power narrative? “That’s a tough one,” Zuccarini told me. “It is male-oriented. And you know, there’s a conversation about women wanting to see real women…I don’t necessarily buy into that. I want to see an idealized version of something. That’s why I like fashion. And there’s something about those supermodels and the image Victoria’s Secret puts out there that women do like. They continue to shop there—it’s the most successful lingerie brand ever created. So the show definitely appeals to men, but VS is a company led by women, and when I was there, no one ever said, ‘Are guys going to like this?’ It wasn’t even part of the conversation.”

Victoria's Secret

Even so, one has to consider that the popularity of the Vicki Secret show among male viewers is just another example of women either consciously or subconsciously wearing lingerie for men. “Women love lingerie because it embraces their bodies and makes them feel good about themselves,” said Pistol. “It’s a celebration of your own body. You feel strong with it on. It’s not that women wear it for men—it’s about making yourself feel good.” But the corset-maker also raised an interesting point about ladies who do buy lingerie to impress a gentleman. “The happiness of the woman is still believable if she’s doing it for a man. It makes the woman happy, but other people are able to appreciate it as well.” Hill had some similar theories as to women’s adoration of luxe underwear. “I think lingerie tends to be some of the most beautiful clothing. When we get up in the morning, we are presenting ourselves to the world. But knowing that you’re wearing something special underneath, even if it’s not going to be seen by anyone, that’s beautiful and special. It sets the tone for the day.” For her part, Zuccarini (whose designers are pictured below) wears a little something special under her work-ready clothes on a daily basis. “I mean, I’m not wearing a garter belt every day, but everything I have is pretty nice,” she laughed. “There’s something emotional about lingerie—it inspires an emotional response and there’s almost an impulsive need to buy it. I think most real lingerie enthusiasts buy it for themselves. They get something from wearing it. And why wouldn’t you want to wear something beautiful under your clothing?” she reasoned.

Fleur du Mal

You know, despite all the expert opinions, I was, until the tail end of this journey, on the fence as to whether one could be a feminist and a lingerie lover. I wasn’t convinced that I adored wearing lingerie for any other reason than, since youth, movies, magazines, and TV ads brainwashed me to believe that lingerie was an instant and necessary sexuality enhancer. So I asked my mother, a deeply chic, incredibly modest woman who happens to be my personal style icon, what she thought. She’s been in the hospital for the last few weeks, and her only response was, “Oh, Kate. That reminds me. Can you go and pick me up some nice things to wear under my gown?” So I did (nothing too risqué—she’s my mother, after all). When I returned from my shopping excursion (during which I bought something for myself, too, obviously), she smiled the biggest smile. I had my answer. Whether or not it’s made with males in mind, today’s women own their lingerie. It’s ours. We can do with it and wear it as we please. And now, I love lingerie a little bit more.

Photo: Horst P. Horst; Courtesy of FIT; Getty Images; Courtesy of FIT; AFP/Getty Images; Joe Schildhorn /BFAnyc.com; via fleurdumal.com

The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Is Coming to London

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vsfashion27This morning, Adriana Lima announced that the next Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show will be held in London. “The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is the biggest fashion event in the world,” she said during the press conference, which took place at the Victoria’s Secret Bond Street store. Lima was accompanied by fellow Angel Candice Swanepoel and Ed Razek, the company’s chief marketing officer, who said the brand has wanted to show in London since 1998.

The show will be held at Earls Court Exhibition Centre on December 2. But the real question on everyone’s mind is: Will the royal family be in attendance?

Photo: Tommy Ton

Malaika Firth Heads Home to Kenya

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Malaiki Firth

It was a year full of milestones for Malaika Firth, who launched her modeling career with Prada’s Fall ’13 campaign; broke through on the Spring runways; and scored spots in the latest ads for Prada, Burberry, and Valentino. She even walked her first Victoria’s Secret show. All that glamorous work deserves a vacation, and Firth—who currently lives in London—spent her holiday break in Mombasa, Kenya, where she was born and raised before moving to the U.K. at the age of 7. “I hadn’t been back to Kenya in almost three years, so I was super-excited to see how much my hometown had changed for the better, and my beautiful family, of course,” she told Style.com. Below, Firth shared some highlights from her trip.

Malaika Firth

“I helped my grandma with her restaurant, Porini, and spent time in the kitchen learning a few of her delicious ‘secret’ recipes. Here we are waiting for our food to come!”

Malaika Firth

“Me with Boko Boko, the restaurant’s resident Seychelles giant tortoise, who is over 200 years old!”

Malaika Firth

“A quick selfie with my adorable cousins.” Continue Reading “Malaika Firth Heads Home to Kenya” »

Degen: Victoria’s Secret Weapon

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Degen x Victoria's Secret

Here’s one fashion collaboration we never saw coming. Lindsay Degen, the Brooklyn-based designer known for her quirky knitwear and conceptual woven art installations, was tapped by Victoria’s Secret to create a series of one-of-a-kind pieces for the Pink portion of last night’s show. The VS team first discovered Degen back in March, during a chance encounter at a knitwear factory in midtown. They were taken with her “crazy” outfit—a loopy yellow onesie and matching oversize sweater—and immediately signed her to work with them on this year’s show. “Degen [her namesake line] is always about doing something weird but lighthearted, and I don’t feel like I compromised my aesthetic at all,” the designer told Style.com. “While it wasn’t necessarily an idea I would’ve come up with myself, I think the Victoria’s Secret show represents fashion’s ultimate over-the-top and fun side, so I was really proud to be a part of it.”

Degen x Victoria's Secret

VS provided Degen with a social-media theme and several desired silhouettes as a jumping-off point. From there, she let her imagination run wild. The result? Woolen long johns with smiley-face emoticons, fuzzy-pom-pom thigh-high socks, and miniskirts intarsia-ed with hashtags and phrases like “OMG” or “LOL.” “I’m actually really bad at social media, so I have a really positive, fun, cartoony view of what it is, and was able to tap into that.” A sheer, tiger-stripe bodysuit, worn by Jessica Hart, was made entirely from knitted fishing line (an original technique developed by Degen). “It was difficult to fit, because we didn’t know who the model was going to be—I don’t have the opportunity to work with supermodels—and I had to fit it to myself, like I always do,” she said of the piece. “Obviously I’m not Jessica Hart-sized, and I worked on tailoring it to her measurements for two days straight before the show. When I finally saw it walking down the runway, I totally lost it and kept yelling ‘Work’ like a lunatic!”

For more information, visit degen-nyc.com.

Photo: Tommy Ton

An Early Glimpse at Tonight’s Secret Victoria’s Secret Model Lineup

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Victoria's Secret rehersal

Walking the annual Victoria’s Secret extravaganza is a milestone in any model’s career. After all, it’s as much about lighting up the stage with your personality (not to mention dance moves—who could forget Jourdan Dunn doing the robot last year?) as it is about having a killer body, and being able to smile while strutting with a pair of thirty-pound wings on your back. While there’s no way to confirm exactly who will be appearing on the VS catwalk this evening alongside Taylor Swift, we’ve come up with an educated guess based on social media clues gathered over the past week, as well as shots from yesterday’s rehearsal (like the one above, featuring Sara Sampaio, Martha Hunt, Jasmine Tookes, and Leva Laguna working the runway).

Victoria's secret

Of course there are bound to be appearances by veteran Angels such as Adriana Lima (it will be her fourteenth time participating in the show), Candice Swanepoel, Alessandra Ambrosio, Behati Prinsloo, Doutzen Kroes, Lily Aldridge, Karlie Kloss, and Cara Delevingne. [Regrettably, Miranda Kerr announced she will be ending her contract with the lingerie megalith to pursue other projects.] Those aforementioned supers are all but givens at this point, and so it’s the remaining twenty-plus coveted slots—selected by casting director John Pfeiffer—that really get us excited. Style.com has learned that several high fashion runway regulars will be making their VS debuts tonight: Sigrid Agren and Josephine Skriver (both posted snapshots of themselves sporting the official Angels bomber jacket on Instagram), as well as Ming Xi, Maria Borges, Kasia Struss, and Jac. We were even more thrilled to hear that some our top Spring ’14 newcomers including Malaika Firth, Devon Windsor, Cindy Bruno, and Sara Sampaio also beat out dozens of more established girls to earn their first pair of wings.

Photos: Courtesy of Victoria’s Secret; Instagram