Lingerie designer Leigh Bantivoglio has gotten far by swimming against the industry tide.
Chat long enough with Leigh Bantivoglio about her career and you wouldn’t be surprised to hear her call innerwear by its old-fashioned name: unmentionables. "The most annoying thing is when people ask me what I do — especially men," says Bantivoglio. "It opens up the gamut for all kinds of inappropriate conversation."
A native Philadelphian, Bantivoglio moved to New York in 1991, when she was 24, and pursued a marketing and merchandising program at Parsons School of Design. She later worked as a fashion assistant at WWD’s sister publication, W magazine. But her aspirations soon digressed from those of a wannabe fashion editor. In 1995, she decided to become "a big fish in a small pool." She started her lingerie firm on a shoestring budget of $20,000. "There was so much saturation in the ready-to-wear field at the time," says Bantivoglio. "I felt I didn’t have the competitive drive or the financial backing needed. Ready-to-wear is such a cutthroat business. Now, lingerie is the big thing." Today, despite a small volume — $2 million anticipated by yearend — Bantivoglio is a star in the intimates pond, with accounts at Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys Japan.
Bantivoglio managed to make her name quite quickly in the lingerie world, despite her lack of formal training as a designer. "Not having a technical background allowed me to break rules," she says. One such design, Bantivoglio’s signature stretch-lace boy-cut shorts, was initially ridiculed by manufacturers. "Everybody was making fun of me, saying things like, ‘That’s the biggest panty on the planet,’" she recalls. "Now, boy shorts are the biggest item on the planet."
For trim, Bantivoglio prefers Calais leavers lace, a supple, complexly woven variety often used in couture, and delicate silk ribbons and bows. She also favors unexpected color matches, for example, a lace trim cross-dyed orange and gold.
For fall, Bantivoglio has launched several new styles, including some ready-to-wear pieces: a Thirties-inspired dress and a cardigan that can be paired with a lined cami for a twinset look. Wholesale prices for Bantivoglio’s collections run from $15 for thongs to $135 for dresses. Her upcoming spring collection features a six-piece microfiber group that includes a cami, a thong, a chemise and an Empire-waisted dress."Leigh has created a whole new direction in lacy looks. I see a lot of people knocking it off," says Barbara Cook, owner of Joovay, a lingerie shop in Manhattan.
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion
Eighty degree temperatures and outdoor installations at the annual Art Basel Miami Beach called for bright, elevated beachwear. See more street style pictures on WWD.com. #theyarewearing #ABMB (📷: @lifeinreverie)
Following September’s emotional tribute to her brother Gianni, Donatella Versace wanted to bring the spring show’s deep sense of intimacy to her @versace_official pre-fall collection. Donatella found inspiration in Versace Palazzo in Milan and from Gianni’s opulent apartment. Archival patterns and new motifs were splashed on silk shirtdresses and fitted jersey frocks. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com. #wwdfashion
Demna Gvasalia continues to shake up the Paris fashion calendar — and experiment with new runway timetables for his @vetements_official brand. WWD has learned that Vetements plans to stage its next coed show for the fall 2018 season on January 19 during Men’s Fashion Week in the French capital. Details about the timing and venue have not been confirmed — stay tuned on WWD.com to catch the latest. #wwdnews (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
@zacposen's go-to holiday gift? Cookies! "I'll usually bake cookies and send them as a gift," said the designer, who recently released his cookbook "Cooking With Zac: Recipes from Rustic to Refined." Get the recipe for his Brown Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies via link in bio 🍪🍪🍪 #wwdeye #cookingwithzac
For @monsemaison’s pre-fall 2018 collection, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim honed in on the brand’s many signatures — men’s wear, which was tweaked and feminized through deconstruction, proportion play and lots of bare shoulders. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
On Friday night, @yohjiyamamotoofficial received the Design for Asia Lifetime Achievement Award in Hong Kong. The 75-year-old designer has been celebrated for many years and is best known for his dark and avant-garde tailoring. “In my long career, in design, architecture, [I’ve been to] so many parties, this is the very first time that I have such a warm feeling, I really appreciate this,” Yamamoto said. #wwdfashion (📷: @dominiquemaitre)