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Lessons In Lingere: Wolford

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The French are pioneers in lingerie. Their bras and underwear are classic and beautiful, and the constructive is impeccable. Maybe I haven’t been exposed to the trashier side of the French, and if that’s the case, don’t taint the image I have!

When I was in Paris, you bet your little (or big) heiny that I shopped as many lingerie boutiques as I could. Although it was a family trip, my dad was okay with me venturing off on my own to do my own lingerie thing. Plus, shopping for such things with your father is not the most comfortable situation. For real.

I surprised myself. I thought my favorite store would be a French brand or boutique – Chantelle, Cadolle, Carine Gilson, Eres, FIfi Chanchnil or Princess Tam Tam. It wasn’t. My favorite was the Austrian brand, Wolford.

Not on any must-see list, Wolford’s store in Le Marais sits at the end of Rue de Rivoli. I stumbled into it on an early Sunday afternoon as the street was just starting to get busy with locals and tourists lining up for falafels. They had food on their minds, and I had underwear. Priorities. I had never been to a Wolford store. Confession – I had never even heard of the brand. But I was in the mindset that I was going to scope out any and all lingerie in the city just for fun. Why not?

“Bonjour!” the sales woman chirped, literally. I swear every Parisian has a high-pitched, greeting voice. I repeated the same words to her, trying not to sound American. Fail. Browsing, I picked out an unassuming, plain bra and bodysuit combo and headed to the dressing room. I undressed, put it on, and wow. No frills, no fuss. Just a simple silhouette with velvet, seamless trimming. I spent a fortune buying that set, but a month after, I feel no buyer’s remorse. Totally worth it. I feel so damn sophisticated wearing it.

HISTORY

Wolford was founded in 1950 as a tight manufacturer. Since then, they have expanded their assortment to include lingerie, clothing and even menswear, but have maintained a firm reputation as being the leader in luxury hosiery. Taylor Swift wears Wolford tights in her “Bad Blood” music video, and when performing with Madonna at the iHeart Music Festival, she wore the brand’s Satin Touch 20 Stay-Ups in black while Madonna wore Fatal 80 Stay-Ups (see image below). Models at the Jean Paul Gaultier Live Ball 2015 also donned

Wolford. One of my favorite bloggers, A Clothing Horse, wears Wolford on the regular.

Last year, Fashion Week Daily interviewed Martina Brown, who worked in marketing for the brand. She wrote that their craftsmanship is due to the quality of yarns and technology, some of which is done in-house (see image to the left). On their Facebook page, I found two behind-the-scenes images of NYC photographer Dane Shitagi and ballerina Katie Boren touring their headquarters, including the production area. Getting that inside glimpse is pretty cool, don’t you think?

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My Thoughts

As I get older, by no means am I old, I increasingly try to live simpler. A year ago, I probably sounded like an annoying broken record when I wrote constantly about how I used Sarai’s The Wardrobe Architect to refine my wardrobe and personal style. That philosophy spilled onto my lingerie preferences and I now gravitate toward simple styles. The less, the better. The bras I make aren’t super complicated, and in a way, I think that’s kind of ironic. Yes, I’m on a continual quest to grow my bra making skills, but at the same time, I’m trying to refine/reduce construction.

And that’s because I’m more focused on the silhouette – classic, modern but also functional. I want my bras to feel like second-skin (just like Wolford’s), but as the same time be sleek and contemporary.

By the way, if you’re into lingerie and are in Paris, check out Kate Kemp-Griffin’s lingerie tours. Unfortunately, I was not able to take it, but I will the next time I visit!

Also, check out some of Wolford’s runway shows!

 

9 Comments

  1. Reply

    Liliana

    They definitely make the best tights – I love the ‘special’ ones because then the price doesn’t seem so high. And I love the set you bought, it’s very beautiful!

  2. Reply

    Gwen

    What a lovely post, Maddie.

    I love that you went to a shop that in some ways was lesser known. That’s one of my favorite things to do in a new city, discover gems. Sounds like you found a beauty. I had no idea how much their work was done in-house (which I love) nor how affluent their work. It seems to me that some things the French do, and do well, they don’t have to “announce” which is why many of us, unless we are seeking their product or something similar because what we have isn’t cutting it, wouldn’t even have heard of them. Whereas, everyone has heard of Playtex, Hanes, or some other heavily marketed product. Even some brands like Wacoal, Natori, and Elomi were unknown to me until I got tired of cheaply made bras and went on a hunt for something stellar, durable, and brilliantly supportive. From where I stand, it seems more like many French & European products are so good that it speaks for itself and word of mouth gets out. But, then maybe I’m just unaware of commercials and advertising for their products and don’t fit their “target customer”.

    Like you, the Wardrobe Architect changed, enhanced, and illuminated many things in my sewing. What a wonderful self-exploration tool that was.

    I’m uplifted and inspired by what you create and also knowing that you want your bras to feel like a 2nd skin, simple, and refined. I think the sewing world desperately needs some fresh bra designs that echo some of the design elements we’ve pined after in couture and RTW. I’m sure I’m not the only one wanting this. Also, knowing you are inspired by the euro couture lingerie gets me even more excited to work with your bra patterns.

    • Reply

      maddie

      What a lovely reply!

      Very interesting point about “announcing”. I believe that marketing is key to the success of a product, especially in today’s world of social media, but I also believe that marketing can be subtle and effective. Marketing will only work for a good product. If it’s a bad product, customers will eventually find out it’s bad and stop buying. If it is a good product, customers will love it, tell others, and the product will sell itself.

      I think I have a lot of work editing/refining my lingerie styles, but I’m chipping away at my vision slowly. Thanks, Gwen!

  3. Reply

    Mai T

    When we the women wear lingeries, we are irresistable to men. 😉 They are always classic and beautiful. Thank you for the interesting post!

  4. Reply

    Krista

    I would LOVE a high-quality pattern for a bodysuit. If I could make a few of my own I’d wear those almost exclusively.

    • Reply

      maddie

      Noted! I am working on it 😉

  5. Reply

    Cindy

    Thank you for this interesting post.

  6. Reply

    emeralderin

    Shopping through all the lingerie boutiques in Paris sounds like a dream! I’m glad you had so much fun! I totally get the simple aesthetic and I do like it, but there are just so many bright, bold and detailed beauties out there that I’m still craving yet! thanks for the post 🙂

  7. Reply

    Leon Francois

    très joli post – il est vrai que Wolford ne peut que séduire par la finesse et la qualité de ses produits. A l’origine exclusivement orienté collants; d’ailleurs les plus beaux du monde; cette marque a su se diversifier dans tout le secteur lingerie. Leurs bodys sont d’une douceur incroyable – quand à leurs robes fatal, elles portent bien leur nom : simplement fatal. Succombons sous la douceur de robe fatal et de leurs collants le fatal 15

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