Byline: Karyn Monget

NEW YORK — Saks Fifth Avenue brought the romance of French lingerie to its flagship Wednesday, and the results were “tremendous,” said Barbara Lipton, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of intimate apparel.
The one-day event in the eighth floor innerwear department was staged with La Federation Francaise de la Lingerie et du Banaire and its export division, Promincor. In all, the French promoters represent 80 intimate apparel and swimwear brands from France.
The French affair is also being staged this month at 11 other Saks units: in Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, New Orleans, Chicago and Boston, plus three in Florida — Bal Harbour, Dadeland and Boca Raton.
The promotion, the first of its kind at Saks, focuses primarily on six French designer foundations brands — Aubade, Chantelle, Eres, Lejaby, Lise Charmel and Princess Tam Tam. At the flagship last week, five models showed off sexy-looking bras and coordinating panties as romantic tunes by French songstress Lara Fabien wafted through the department and waiters offered shoppers French pastries, chocolate-dipped strawberries, French champagne and Perrier. A raffle for $500 worth of French lingerie was conducted at the 12 stores, but Saks officials said they could not release the winners’ names.
Lipton said sales were doubled in the designer bra area and in total bra business at the flagship the day of the promotion. At the Saks units in Beverly Hills, New Orleans and Boca Raton, sales of designer bras “were amazing, posting gains in the triple digits,” she said.
Commenting on consumer awareness of French bra labels in the U.S., Laurence Tienturier, president of France Ligne, a fashion consulting firm, cited a survey conducted with 500 American specialty retailers.
“Sixty percent of those retailers attended the Intimate Apparel Salon, and among those merchants, 50.5 percent bought French lingerie,” said Tienturier.
As for brand awareness, Chantelle rated the highest percentage at 53.8, Aubade and Lou each scored 15.4, Lejaby rated 12.8, Simone Perele scored 7.7 percent and Christian Dior rated 5.1.