Cold wintery nights? Get dressed with steamy new lingerieThe iconic Calvin Klein basic white briefs peeking above jeans are so ’90s ― and very passe. A decade after supermodel Kate Moss showed her bikini bottom to the world, the brand has evolved ... back in time.
At the latest underwear presentation/party last week, organized by Calvin Klein Underwear Korea, at the W Seoul Hotel in eastern Seoul, the attitude was in-your-face audacious while remaining tongue-in-cheek and stylistically Victorian.
The hotel’s swank Woo Bar was cordoned off and swathed in black curtains, transforming the lounge area into a sprawling bedroom and bathroom where scantily clad models sipped champagne and frolicked. For visiting voyeurs to reach this private zone, they needed to walk the “passage of sex” lined with cocky, near-naked models lounging on sofas. The inner sanctum featured eight “concept booths” where models played various roles ― lip-syncing rockers, lady CEOs at the office, a sexed-up bodybuilder and a sniper on a spy assignment ― to stimulate visitors’ imaginations. The predominantly male local press was most excited by two caucasian models sporting pastel-colored lace-and-flower undergarments, called “Printed Shimmer,” inspired by the lacy, frilly Victorian mode featured at recent runway shows.
Clearly, Calvin Klein has entered the “Moulin Rouge” period of its lingerie line.
Out with CK’s basic white briefs and trunks. In with splashes of bold colors ― Santa Claus red, turquoise blue, kelly green and baby pink. In a series called “Prostretch,” the elastic waist band that once featured the pale gray CK logo on white, is now bright red. The “Anime” series with prints of Japanese animation characters seems designed to satisfy the Peter Pan syndrome of the current generation.
The imaginative yet entertaining presentation of the new Calvin Klein Underwear collection was exclusive to Korea, unlike most imported brands which follow a global protocol.
The show was received well by loyal customers, the press and industry professionals. But putting on the underwear event wasn’t easy, according to Oh Jae-hyeong, one of the organizers. While the Korean fashion business is considered more liberal and open-minded than other industries, local models don’t feel comfortable wearing only underwear. The organizer had to double the modeling fee and hired a reputable fashion stylist, Han Hye-won, who could convey a strong theme for the latest look.
Calvin Klein is not the only brand going overboard for undergarments this season. The market seems dominated by French underwear gone Vaudeville. When the Victorian theme is translated into lingerie, it is not about wrapping up cotton corsets; instead, undergarments become plush velvet brassieres matched with lacy hose and G-string, for example, to convey the romance of a by-gone era.
DIM, a French underwear company known for a casual and simple style, has introduced a Victorian-inspired line: A triangular swatch of violet polka-dot satin is trimmed with black lace; a pink brief is adorned with a 19th century bow.
A high-end French brand, Lejaby, showcases the glamorous retro seductresses a la 1950s Chanel and Vargas Girls form-fittingly covered in dark but brilliant swatches of ruby red, black, purple and cobalt blue.
However, super-feminine undergarments piled high with frills and edged with tacky lace are not new to Korea. For decades, the old European charm has fascinated Korean women, as something romantic, luxurious and foreign. Mail-order catalogues and TV shopping networks are overflowing with lacy underwear, specifically cut for small-frame Asian bodies.
“One of the biggest misconceptions in Korea is that underwear is made by putting together a few pieces of fabric,” said Bae Yoon-jung, the president of CLCM, a Korean trading company that imports Lejaby and the Laurente Tavernier line of homewear from France. Noting that Western corsets as an undergarment became separate from brassieres and panties about100 years ago, Ms. Bae wanted to introduce authentic traditional European underwear to Korean women, so she imported Lejaby, which has specialized in luxury lingerie for 75 years.
According to Ms. Bae, who used to work in the cosmetics industry, the most important consideration in choosing lingerie is getting a comfortable fit and shape. “Women’s breasts come in all different shapes and sizes, and choosing a brassiere is similar to buying a pair of shoes. It takes a long time to make size specifications and patterns for a single size and style,” she said adding that one size of a Lejaby brassiere model, for example, is made with 50 different patterns.
“Just as Korean women understand the magical complexity of cosmetics, right now there is a need for a right kind of lingerie,” Ms. Bae said.
by Ines Cho