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As a nearly 20 year Fashion Industry Vet, I've made TheFE my place to cover and discuss everything fashionable from books, to designer ready-to-wear to couture. All aspects of a fashionable lifestyle are included. BIG NEWS: I'VE MOVED TheFE TO WORDPRESS to take advantage of their superior publishing platform. See you there!!


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fashion V. Clothes: Post #6: Adriana Lima + Victoria's Secret- Lingerie, the Foundation of Fashion

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Unless you've been hiding in a log cabin with no connection to the outside world, you have not heard about the Victoria's Secret, and the VS "Angels". The VS Show the Angels walk in typically crashes sites worldwide because of so many page views.
One of the Angels who's responsible for generating this level of frenzy is Adriana Lima.

The opportunity to interview her presented itself at an exclusive press event at the Soho, NYC store I recently attended. The thrust of the event was that Adriana would be in New York to preview the $2 Million Bombshell Fantasy Bra to the press and to tourists lucky enough to be in the neighborhood, when she hit the Red Carpet in front of the store, wearing the bra, a blue silk dressing gown, and white leather opera gloves. The bra boasts an astounding 60 carats of diamonds and 82 carats of sapphires and topazes, laid-out in a constellation pattern. The whole thing is set in 18-karat white gold.

Naturally, she’ll also be wearing it on the runway at the 2010 Victoria’s Secret Fashion show that will air Tuesday, November 30 (10/9C) on the CBS Television Network. The $2 Million Bombshell Fantasy Bra will be featured in the 2010 Victoria’s Secret Christmas Dreams & Fantasies Catalogue that hit mailboxes on October 20th. If the Bombshell Fantasy Bra is out of your price range, you can pick-up the Miraculous Push-up Bra and matching V-string embellished with pink iridescent crystallized Swarovski elements for $250 and $50 at VS stores nationwide.

While I wanted to see what the $2 million diamond bra designed by Damiani looked like, I was most interested in the opportunity to find out what Adriana - the world-famous VS Angel thought about lingerie.
I asked her only one question - Does she consider lingerie to be fashion or is it something completely apart from fashion? I was gratified to receive a full [nearly 2 minute response].

[click on the video for a close-up view of the bra's design and to hear all of Ariana's response to our question: "Is lingerie fashion?"].

I was especially keen on speaking with THIS Angel, because she's had a multi-dimensional career. True, she's responsible for selling millions of dollars of bras and panties for Victoria's Secret, and is a regular cover girl on GQ and other lad mags, but she's also walked on some of the most prestigious runway shows in the world, wearing fashion. No one would dispute that Marc Jacobs' designs for Louis Vuitton are fashion, not clothes.
While I waited my turn in the back of the Soho store, which had been roped off for the press and film crews, I tuned-into what HuffPo and E! asked the stunning Brazilian. Unsurprisingly, they all wanted to know how she'd managed to get her killer body back after having a baby less than a year ago. Answer: Good nutrition and exercise. She dropped a tip about jumping rope in her hotel room that got a good laugh when she confessed to being concerned about her poor neighbors downstairs].
Another question – “How did it feel to wear a $2million bra? [“Amazing”]. Unsurprisingly, she purred on camera that she was “very happy to be walking the show this year and had really missed doing the show last year”.

While these questions are certainly relevant to the event [the unveiling of the $2million fantasy bra], I hoped that my questions would give her a break from the usual ones she gets thrown at her.
Adriana took my questions seriously, and stated that she considers "all creations to be fashion".

Later, while editing the interview voice notes, I decided that she was right – it’s
hard to argue that lingerie is not fashion. After doing some research, I learned from,that " the first record concerning lingerie came from way back around 3000 B.C... Egyptians considered clothing to be a status symbol and the higher-ranking women would wear narrow tunics as undergarments that started below the chest, extended to the ankles, and were supported by a crosswise shoulder strap. Sometimes they would draw tunics around to the front of the body to mold the waist. Slave and servants wore no undergarments; only simple loin cloths or [they just] went naked."
A thousand years later, in 2000B.C. , the prototype for the push-up bra was born. "A female figure from 2000 B.C., found in Crete, depicts the first recorded corset-like bodice and crinoline (a caged or hooped underskirt) that shoves the bare breast upward. Both are interesting in that they show similarities to lingerie eons later in the western world."
The obvious icons are today’s Angels.
Lingerie continued to enjoy popularity throughout the ages. Fast-forward in our time machine to the importance of Corsets during Elizabethan Times. Remember ‘those ‘Tudors’ episodes, when even King Henry occasionally had trouble peeling off all of the elaborate undergarments of his latest noble bedmate?

Centuries later, around the time of the Great Depression and during the World Wars, women [including my French Grandmother] resorted to drawing a black line extending from their heel to just under their buttocks to emulate the silk stockings

they could no longer afford during this time of deprivation. The glamorous twenties' Flappers had made silk stockings a must-have item. True, they'd been around since the mid 1600's, but the Flappers played a big role in popularizing what was previously only for wealthy women. The delicate silk stockings snagged and were costly to replace. Once rayon came along and women of all classes could wear stockings.
Next to get its moment in the spotlight was the bra.
Howard Hughes [then an aeronautical engineer] gave the bra biz a big boost when he designed a bra for Jane Russell
that made her seem even bustier than she already was. Hollywood couldn’t get enough of stars
such as Lana Turner and their ample cleavage. Lana became known as the “Sweater Girl” because of her famous cone-shaped brassieres, and Marilyn Monroe ‘s cleavage helped cement her rep as one of the sexiest fashion icons of all time. Marilyn loved her Chanel No. 5 and her silk stockings. She was also careful to show her famous 36D’s to best advantage in a then-futuristic sling-strapped bra that gave her the lift and separation the modern day Wonder Brad does today. The open top gave the illusion that her famous bosom defied gravity without any help.
*Fun Fact: Marilyn’s cream-colored double-cup bra
sold for $5,200 by London auction house International Autograph Auctions. The winning bid was from an unidentified caller in Hong Kong.
The seventies were a wash lingerie-wise as women took pride in not wearing bras, but that changed in the body conscious eighties. While in Grad School, working part-time at the Limited, I was intrigued by the tiny Victoria's Secret store that had just opened in New Orleans. It was 1985, and the VS store was tiny but the women who worked there were excited in that way that you know you're looking at something that is going to blow-out in a big way. No one though, could have predicted just how huge the brand would become.

Every curious, I asked the women what the name meant. Was it an English brand they were bringing over? They said that it was supposed to sound British and hence "upper class" and that the "Victoria" part was made-up. There was no actual Victoria. Disappointed, I still liked the idea. Apparently, so did the rest of America. Today, VS is North America's #1 specialty retailer of women's intimate apparel, and there are 1,040 [mostly mall-based] Victoria's Secret stores. According to, last year, VS reported revenues of $5604.00M.

The splashy annual runway show and the Angels ads and signage help to generate these blockbuster dollars.
Unsurprisingly, like major athletes, the Angels are well coached as to how best to represent the brand. Being the good spokesperson that she is, Adriana talked about the importance of the right bra/undergarments while wearing fashion. To my surprise, she did not plug a specific VS bra, but instead talked about how the smooth line of the right bra can show off a designer garment to best effect.
Adriana showed her human side by confiding that she had not chosen the right bra for a very beautiful dress she'd recently worn and had regretted it, not feeling comfortable. If one of the world's most beautiful women and experienced models can make an error like this, just remember that next time you choose the wrong undergarment. Part of being fashionable is looking put together, or as C.Z. Guest
said, “well turned-out.”
Lingerie matters, Monroe knew it and would not have dared make a public appearance without the right bra on underneath her skintight dresses. Take a cue from Marilyn, and take the time to choose the right bra, panty or body slimmer that will show your special dress to its best advantage. The options these days are through the roof at VS. There are collections of bras to choose from: The Very Sexy, The Bio Fit, The Nakeds, The Incredible, The Angels. There are also entire floors of luxury department stores dedicated to stocking foundation garments for every possible garment you could choose to wear. With the vast resources available today, there is no excuse for a bra strap on thong to peek out of your designer outfit. Being fashionable and put together starts with choosing the proper foundation garments. Without these key pieces, even the most beautiful fashions are diminished into nothing more than just expensive clothing.

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