When Tamae Hirokawa, designer of the Tokyo-based fashion line Somarta, sent a full bodysuit encrusted with some 20,000 Swarovski crystals down the runway in 2007, it wasn’t with dreams of becoming a bestseller. In fact, it wasn’t until three years later that someone other than a model dared to wear the getup. In April 2010, Lady Gaga, the patron saint of otherworldly lingerie, put the look in front of a global audience when she wore it throughout a trip to Japan, later reprising the bodysuit for her spread in Vanity Fair’s September 2010 issue.
Yet even with that kind of exposure, Hirokawa, who sells tamer versions of her suit — gloves, stockings, tops — under the Skin Series label at Japanese retailers such as Ginza Mitsukoshi and Seibu Shibuya, has no plans to put the more extreme pieces into production. But why not? If any subgenre of fashion has permission to push boundaries, surely it’s lingerie, where anything beyond basic nudges at fantasy. A survey of its purveyors found that the riskier designs pay off.
“We’ve been dressing pop stars and actresses for a long time, because we were known for doing extreme pieces that are great for editorial,” says Sarah Shotton, creative director of Agent Provocateur. “Now we do fashion shows once a year, and people call up saying, ‘Where can I get that studded corset?’”
In 2009, Agent Provocateur launched its Soiree collection, a more expensive, luxurious addition to the line that this season includes a black leather cutout bra and waspie (a waist-cinching garterlike belt) with gold-star nipple covers and Swarovski-encrusted chains — prices top off around $4,000. From the main collection, Shotton remembers a series called Katherine from a few years ago. Kirsty Hume modeled its bondage bra with cutaway side cups and a suspender belt that cut under the rear, leaving it entirely exposed. “That sold out instantly,” says Shotton. “We were like, ‘Okay.’”
There are different levels of extreme. Whereas Agent Provocateur is known for engineered kink, Carlotta Danti of the Milan-based label Rosamosario works with silk, lace and linen, all hand-dyed and hand-sewn for a pretty, artisanal effect. When designing her more directional looks, she tries to ground them in a potential real-life situation. For example, she says the Girella jumpsuit — a linen corset with bullet cups traced in circular embroidery, attached to high-waisted slim pants done in French lace and bondagelike cotton piping — would be appropriate for “a modern wedding between two ladies in a cosmopolitan situation.”
Eres is quite understated compared to its competition, yet designer Valerie Delafosse says the customer always responds to what’s newest and most innovative. “They want to be surprised,” she says. In 2008, after years of skimpy Brazilian-style thongs being the rage, Eres introduced the high-waisted, full-coverage Flavie panty, which became the brand’s bestseller. “Maybe it’s not extreme in the way that you mean, but it was extremely different,” said Delafosse.
Then there are those who consider “extreme” a dirty word. When asked for comment on its more outré designs, a rep from Kiki de Montparnasse, the high-end underwear line known for its gold-plated sex toys and such seductive fare as the next-to-naked frame look, pictured on page 23, practically blushed. “‘Extreme lingerie’ isn’t really the right tone for us,” the spokesperson offered via e-mail. “I apologize, but I’ve been informed by higher-ups that they would like to pass this time around.”
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye