WWD.com/fashion-news/fashion-features/london-undercover-753259/

Coco De Mer

This story first appeared in the August 26, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Coco de Mer, a sleek, softly lit space that feels as much like a boudoir as a boutique is a haven for anyone picky about the fit and feel of their lingerie. “Frilly and fancy don’t have to be itchy,” said Debbie Sim, art director and designer for the store, which is located in London’s Covent Garden neighborhood. “You don’t have to have one or the other, it can be comfortable and sexy. We’re about having it all.”

The trio behind the boutique — Sim, Sam Roddick, the daughter of The Body Shop founder Anita Roddick, who oversees product development, and Adae Elena Amats, who keeps an eye on the company’s purse strings — made a pact before the store opened in November last year to correct everything they believed to be wrong with women’s lingerie.

The Coco team selected the softest silks and cottons they could find, placed seams where they’d be least likely to irritate and took a restrained approach to underwiring bras.

Sim’s training in theater design is evident in the lingerie she creates. Currently, she can’t get Little Red Riding Hood out of her head, so she’s planning a collection based on wide-eyed innocents. This season, panties are named after butterflies: Chocolate Tips, Essex Skippers and Spanish Gatekeepers are just a few names from the collection.

Prices range from $52 to $225 for panties and between $52 and $215 for bras, which are available in hand-dyed silks or cottons. Designs have a girlie yet cheeky feel, with generous applications of lace, ribbons and bows. Many of the panties are loose fitting, like bloomers, and made from floaty silks.

Coco de Mer, which, incidentally, is named for a rare species of palm tree whose fruits resemble the male and female anatomies, also offers loungewear, bedroom toys and edible massage oils, among other items. Swimwear is on the drawing board. However, Sim doesn’t think of Coco de Mer as a lifestyle shop. “That’s so Conran,” she said. “I’d say Coco is more about how to live.”