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Larger lingerie returns as women accept curves

PARIS (AFP) ― Whoever said economics is the dismal science never considered the prognostic powers of women’s taste in lingerie.

To hear trend-spotters at the Salon International de la Lingerie tell it, a global swing towards a fuller feminine figure ― think the TV series “Mad Men”and 1950s pin-up queens ― is a harbinger of the waning of the Great Recession.

“What were the 1950s? It was a post-war period,” explained Caroline le Grelle, a fashion consultant for Eurovet, organisers of the world’s most international lingerie trade fair, which opens Jan. 22 in Paris.

“Women had undergone a period of hardship. They wanted to enjoy themselves. We haven’t experienced a war this time ― but we have come through an economic crisis. It’s exactly the same scheme of things.”

“We want to sweep it all away and have a ball. Hence this return to retro.”

So it’s out with minimalist thongs and push-up demi-bonnet bras, and in with bullet bras and high-waisted briefs, particularly in black, which Le Grelle calls “the colour of reference for seduction.”

Samples on display at a preview for the fashion media around the corner from the big Parisian department stores last week were distinguished by remarkably light fabrics, as well as lace, silk and satin.

The 1950s pin-up Bettie Page and her modern-day counterpart Dita Von Teese would certainly approve the designs, and indeed Le Grelle credits a renewed interest in burlesque as a motivating factor behind today’s lingerie preferences.

Another factor, in her opinion, is a growing acceptance by women of their natural curves, after years of fretting over not being thin enough.

“Women’s bodies have evolved considerably,” Le Grelle told AFP. “In a few years, women have gained a few centimetres around the hips and chest. Lingerie has been obliged to accept this changing morphology.”

The salon ― overlapping with the fall-winter 2011 haute couture shows ― will run for three days, with an estimated 20,000 buyers for retailers and distributors sizing up the wares from 550 labels.

Triumph International, the world’s biggest lingerie manufacturer, celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, will be using the salon to roll out an affordably-priced luxury line, dubbed Essence.

It also wants to heavily promote its Shape Sensation series, which employs ultra-light elasticised fabrics to give wearers what the manufacturer calls a “shaping effect.”

“It’s not a slimming product. It’s about shaping the body,” said Emilie Kauffmann, brand and marketing manager for Triumph in France.

Another big name, Wacoal, is meanwhile pitching an innovative line of briefs made of a microfibre impregnated with caffeine, vitamins A and E and aloe vera which can reputedly combat cellulite.

Wacoal claims that, after 28 days, its Beauty Secret undergarments can slim thighs by two centimetres, and that 67 percent of women who tried them reported feeling better in their jeans.

But, warned Wacoal spokeswoman Marie-Dominique Tabard, “if you keep eating, it won’t work.”
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