By  on October 16, 2006

Three up-and-coming brands of lingerie and corsetry from diverse backgrounds are hoping to break into the U.S. market: Carol Malony, Odille and Court Royal.

Designer Carol Malony, a lingerie retailer-turned-manufacturer in the mid-Seventies and Eighties, has been a longtime supplier of specialty underpinnings for Victoria's Secret. But the Los Angeles-based designer decided it was time to launch Carol Malony Signature, a luxe-looking line of lace and embroidered bras and coordinating panties that Malony describes as "collectibles."

"It's like wearing a dainty piece of jewelry that's the equivalent of a Chantilly lace bra," said Malony, noting that each "sexy little bra style" has a name, such as Little Bo Peep, Tickle Me and Peek-a-Boo. The bras will retail for between $50 and $90, and coordinating undies will be priced at $20 to $30.

Regarding her retail background, Malony recalled, "I'm Canadian, and I became aware of beautiful lingerie boutiques in Montreal and Paris. American stores back then were not presenting fashion lingerie, it was all very hush-hush, very utilitarian. So, I became passionately interested in presenting the beautiful part of lingerie to the U.S. market and opened the first of four boutiques in Los Angeles called Fanny. My husband was an architect who had studied at Berkeley, and I gave him his first dream job — a lingerie boutique with armoires and sewing machines at the back with beautiful laces and trims where we would custom-build slips while clients sipped caffe lattes."

She said her knowledge of sourcing, production, merchandising, marketing and mail-order business has helped her to position the new brand in today's difficult retail environment. A good deal of her expertise was gleaned from the late Roy Raymond, the original founder of Victoria's Secret, who hired her as a consultant in the Seventies.

Malony said Raymond would drop by her shops with his girlfriend, Victoria, to check out the ambience and assortments, which included European bra labels Bolero, Lejaby, Simone Perele, Barbara and Huit. Then, Malony said, she spotted an opportunity to branch out into manufacturing.

"Manufacturing was going global, while my stores kept me localized," she said, noting that she sold her shops in 1990.

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