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.”
@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)