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A history of modern lingerie with Margot Pagès, designer of Miroir de Muses

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The world of ladies’ underwear has managed to find a unique niche all of its own, continually adapting to women’s everyday needs so that it can seduce in the boudoir with a thousand layers of lace while winning friends in the gym by providing comfortable clothing for sporty women.  It would be a mistake to think of lingerie as something that is only made for a woman’s partner; first and foremost, it is made for women.  Does it serve to build women’s self-confidence, show their true personalities or just act as a small indulgence?  Surely, it’s a little of all three!  We were lucky enough to meet with Margot Pagès, the founder of Miroir de Muses to learn a little more about this delightful topic.

You refer to a link between the feminist revolution and lingerie: what connects the two worlds?

Lingerie is much more than a mere item of clothing: it is a symbol of femininity.  Just a few centimetres of cloth can still have a lot to say!  Lingerie also says as much about our most intimate relationship – that with ourselves – as much as it does about seduction and our relationships with others.  It’s hardly surprising therefore that underwear has always been closely linked with the history of women’s liberation, acting either as a catalyst for change or reflecting that social change.  In the 1920s, the bra became a symbol of women’s emancipation because it freed women from imprisonment in corsets.  The tomboy look was in fashion and the bra was used to “conceal” the chest with a view to covering up the differences between the genders in an act of rebellion against the constraints that society imposed on women.  This quest for women’s independence was, however, put on the back burner during the austere periods of the Great Depression followed by World War II, but from the 1950s onward women once again turned to their bras as “tools” of emancipation.  The push-up bra and the conical bra were invented to propagate the look of Hollywood icons such as Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Lauren and Elizabeth Taylor, who embodied the image of liberated women who embraced and enjoyed their seductive power.

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By the 1970s however, the bra had come to be seen as an enemy, as a tool that allowed women to be objectified as part of men’s fantasies.  Feminists burned their bras on the barricades (in reality, they just threw their bras in a rubbish bin as a symbol of freedom).  As ever in this world of constant change, the bra returned in the 1980s in force, at a time when Chantal Thomas launched ultra-sexy, ultra-feminine corsets and other decorative lingerie as a potent symbol of femininity.  Since then, brands have gone all out to emphasise eroticism and seduction.

This was the start of the fashion for padded and push-up bras, when advertising began to feature images of a demanding woman who was comfortable about putting her own needs first and who was in control of her sexuality.  However, it seems that the media once again went too far in focusing on men’s satisfaction and today’s women have distanced themselves from this depiction of women.  They no longer recognise themselves in the ultra-sexy, artificial image that some advertising depicts, to the extent that some women will have lost interest altogether.

What we are observing today is a new turning point in the movement, which moves in a spiral rather than abruptly switching direction, as it shifts from celebrating femininity to downplaying it.  Today’s women identify with a kind of sensuality that is more authentic but just as clearly expressed.  Lessons in the art of seduction are over.  There’s no need to challenge, to provoke, or to prove anything: women feel fulfilled in their sexuality and naturally know how to be sexy.  Lingerie only needs to connect her with her innate sensuality.

Modern women can pick and choose from different forms of femininity at will to express themselves, and can enjoy lingerie for its own sake and not just as a tool of seduction.  They can, for instance, select a suspender belt and wear it to work simply for the pleasure of feeling like a woman – without anyone knowing it.  They can wear a body and jeans at weekends and reveal a delicate lacy number underneath a blouse in the evening – always maintaining a cheeky sense of freedom!

When putting together the Miroir de Muses fine lingerie concept store, I selected pieces that were in harmony with this new way of experiencing femininity.  The designs always feature a theme of subtlety and seductiveness with delicate, comfortable material and a perfect finish to give a piece that enables women to combine elegance, sensuality and dynamism.

There’s been a resurgence in the world of designer lingerie: what’s behind this explosion in the numbers of labels and designers?

This resurgence is closely linked with this desire to express this new impetus, this new way of experiencing femininity.  Lingerie is increasingly gaining recognition as a fashion accessory in its own right, which has attracted young, talented designers.  These new designers draw their inspiration more from the world of ready-to-wear fashion than from traditional lingerie labels.  In any event, I’m happy to have the opportunity to discover new talents on such a regular basis.  The sector is booming and that makes it exciting!

How is designing lingerie different from creating other items?

Items of lingerie are highly technical pieces.  They demand a lot more precision to ensure a comfortable, flattering and precise fit.  The designer has to get it right down to the last millimetre!  That is why, as a buyer, I have to be sure that the label has complete mastery of the specific techniques involved in lingerie manufacture, and the only way to do that is to test the products by having several women try them on.  Only pieces that meet my standards of comfort and style are chosen.

What should ideally be worn with your products?

The hyper-eroticism surrounding lingerie that I’ve just described has contributed to the underwear drawer being split into two sections: one side reserved for seductive, alluring and whimsical pieces, and another for simple everyday pieces that have little to commend them.  It is as if there were two women: by day, a woman who is devoted to work and in the evening, a woman who is devoted to her man.  On the other hand, lingerie from Miroir de Muses can be worn in the day or at night as a constant reminder to women of their beauty and their allure.

One of my criteria for choosing a product is whether it is easy to wear underneath outer clothes.  There shouldn’t be any pointless (and outmoded) ribbons or froufrou that would confine the item to the bedroom.  It is important to understand that lingerie is the foundation for the figure and that the shape of the bra should suit the style of clothing worn above it.  For example, a conical bra looks stunning beneath a blouse, while a balconette shape looks beautiful underneath a square neckline, while a push-up bra makes a big difference beneath a sweater.  The Miroir de Muses blog is full of fashion tips to help you achieve zero fashion faux pas where lingerie is concerned!

What would you like to achieve in the future?

I’d like to continue to be able to do what I love, and to continue to pursue my project.  I’m right at the start of my business adventure at the moment and I’d like to be able to put a team together quite quickly.  I’ve already identified some talented, enthusiastic people, so please join me in hoping that sales take off and I can start hiring quickly!  I’d also like to see the Muse community grow, so that there can be real discussions and sharing of ideas around the values that shape our concepts of fashion and femininity.

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Hana Tajima x Uniqlo: modest fashion with spirited designs

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On 3 July 2015, UNIQLO launched a special modest wear collection, elaborated in collaboration with designer and fashion magician, Hana Tajima. The UNIQLO X Hana Tajima Collection is available exclusively at UNIQLO 313@Somerset and the online store.

We had a chance to meet and interview Hana Tajima in 2013, when she declared that “there has been a reawakening of personal creative expression in young Muslim women“.

In line with UNIQLO’s LifeWear concept, the collection is designed to meet the needs of women who value comfortable and relaxed wear.

“The Hana Tajima collection is an extension of our LifeWear concept in making fashionable, high quality products for all to wear, while enhancing their lifestyle at the same time. We worked with Hana to determine what would be internationally appealing while keeping to the concept of modest wear. We are thrilled with the results of this unique collaboration which produced a desirable collection that does not sacrifice style for utmost comfort!”

Mr. Taku MORIKAWA, Chief Executive Officer, UNIQLO Singapore

This inaugural collection takes inspiration from an international approach in appreciation of diverse culture and style. There’s also a certain focus on technology for this range of outfits; for instance TENCEL, “a soft, botanically derived, wrinkle-resistant fiber is also used, as well as AIRism, which is a quick drying, odour minimising fabric which was developed by Uniqlo in collaboration with Toray“.

Modest fashion: challenging conservative rules

It’s been written everywhere that modest fashion target conservative young Muslims. To my mind, it’s somehow wrong; in a recent documentary on the BBC “Hight Street Hijabis“, we follow YouTube sensation Nabiilabee with her friends, discussing about modest fashion, religion and lifestyle. It’s far more complex than just a style for religious people; actually, in this documentary, Nabiilabee is facing Fatima Barkatulla, Islamic Scholar and Director of Seeds of Change Women’s conference, who warns V-loggers of pushing the limit of fashion vs faith.

“Hijab is an act of worship”

A real generation divide who doesn’t want to be dictated what one’s faith is about. The group of young women all have a different definition of what “modest” means: is it ok to have bright colours or not? What’s the normal size for a modest shirt?

And actually, the only consensus is to mention that “modest” is more a lifestyle than a set of outfits: at the end, it’s all a question of attitude towards others and life than any mandatory guideline.

uniqlo hana tajima collaboration modest fashion

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JORD Wood Watch review: pleasure for the eyes and for the skin

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When it comes to watches, men are extremely demanding. It’s probably one of the few accessories we dare to wear.

A watch is highly personal; an immediate contact with our skin. An object we like to see changing with time, with our special moments. A companion of our love, encounters, meetings, pains and hopes.

So, when JORD suggested a review of their wooden watches, I was initially very surprised. Wood? And watch? How is that even possible. And actually, few other bloggers had already expressed a positive opinion on that matter.

I can now confess: they were right.
JORD Wood Watch Delmar closeup

The wood of the Delmar model is extremely comfortable. It’s very light, gives a non-aggressive look and feel to your daily outfits. I also love putting my watch out of my wrist on my desk when I work. It’s a very nice and elegant object, which can totally match a nice Moleskine. I also like the fact it’s pretty similar to the design furniture we have in our loft, made of recycled wood and garment.

JORD Wood Watch Delmar watch

The display is very clear; despite a pretty big surface for this model, it doesn’t seem “bling”.

JORD Wood Watch Delmar

 

I also like the fact that this kind of watch can go vintage pretty well. Wood tends to change its colour with time, and will later give this little something that makes your object and its history really yours.

Watches Made From 100% Natural Wood by JORD

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Instagram account to follow: @agentlanoire – Ayumi LaNoire

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There’s beauty and mystery on Instagram.

One of our last crushes is Ayumi LaNoire. Officially “The Pole Dancing Geisha“, “ultimate entertainer of Pole, Fire, Modelling & Acting“, her Instagram feed is an ode to subcultures, empathic night and fantasies.

Her snapshots are a tender escape; not aggressive sexuality there: just this nice feeling that whatever happens, tomorrow deserves to be seen.

 

 

Coming soon💋 Photographed by Simon Richardson #legs #pole #art

A photo posted by Ayumi LaNoire (@agentlanoire) on

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Luxury Trends report: being anti-social to win in social media?

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With the NET-A-PORTER and Yoox merger, all luxury brands need to quickly embrace new e-commerce strategies and develop a unique social media experience. An interesting pivot that needs to be quickly mastered by luxury brands, in a very competitive market. That’s the sense of this takeaway report: opening the club while closing down the curtains to keep exclusivity and build up new value proposals.

From anti-social behaviors to re-generate exclusivity, to new approaches regarding customers’ journeys, the opportunity is big for luxury brands.

“Word-of-mouth’s impact is almost 20% of sales in higher price-point categories.” (WOMMA, November 2014).

What was previously perceived as a sort of useless territory to reach very demanding and high profile customers is now one of the main battlefields for the luxury industry. Word-of-mouth which is now accelerated through digital channels, basically means to be literally everywhere and at any time. Chanel got it right, releasing an agenda for e-commerce, with 2016 as their business objective.

New customers’ journeys

Luxury marketing used to be pretty “simple” when elaborated: high-profile customers were to be brought forward into bespoke retail experience. Details mattered, as real-life service could not suffer any bug in the journey.

 

But now, digital revolution changed the entry-points to retail, therefore the social function attributed to the brick and mortar temple; some very sophisticated and well-travelled customers already know what they want and just want to pick up a product they’ve seen online – they no longer accept that an item is not available straight away. Other customers are more digital wanderers, who only discovered a tiny part of the brand; the classic Kenzo Tiger sweatshirt is a very good example: there were queues of customers who were not initially in the “luxury” segment but happened to regroup and bring a new light to Kenzo. Now plugged into the “Kenzodiac” experiment, the brand starts to uplift its new customers into a more subtle and comprehensive understanding of the brand.

“Along with each horoscope is a product that relates to the advice included in the text.Those under the Sagittarius sign are told they need to express their feelings, and stop worrying so much about other people’s expectations of them, so Kenzo suggests a tiger sweatshirt to “roar your heart out.”

In the meantime, traditional high-profile customers don’t want to mix with the crowd, while embracing new ways of consuming luxury through visual networks like Instagram. This high-profile customer does not hesitate to buy from the high street – wearing a pair of Converse while holding a Chloé bag is the new normal.

Digital interfaces totally broke the traditional path to purchase; the smartest brands like Hermès created a whole new tone of voice to face this challenge to again become the information-maker instead of suffering from this dilution through billions of new digital touch-points.

Growing with new communities of luxury customers

What’s even more interesting is that in some less mature markets, customers discovered luxury universes first and foremost through their favorite social networks – like Weibo, but also through celebrities’ pages and on-going “daily-telling.” In order to grow with these thirsty customers, luxury brands now need to adapt: social channels are now no longer an accessory in the marketing mix but the key hub of influence.

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APONIE: when a mother and her children decide to create fragrances loaded with meanings and love

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A new French brand has just revealed a collection of four new fragrances. APONIE created by Jocelyne Duval, explores new notes for men or for women, which are echoes from one another through seasons, moods and attitude.

We had a chance to interview her son, Marc-Aurèle Jules.

aponie collection parfums

Aponie is all about hyphenated identities and worldwide inspirations. How did you create fragrances right in this crossroad?

Interbreeding is a chance and a richness, it defines us and we care about it. My mother already grew up between Western and African educations, then in the same way, she raised us in this multiculturality, which opened our minds to cultures and traditions from here and there.

The best example of our love for interbreeding remains the name of our perfume “Mulâtresse” because a Mulâtresse, in French, is a daughter born of the union of black and white parents (it was also the nickname given to Jeanne Duval, the muse of the French poet Charles Baudelaire). Our origins from Europe and Arica, and our discoveries of regions in Asia or America brought us other exotic and cosmopolitan inspirations.

Personally, I have been brought up among perfumes. My mother used to soak, very young, our pillows with the Eau de Cologne by Mr Thibeault, then sprayed the filter of the vacuum cleaner in order to fill the house with the Eau de Parfum Panthère by Cartier, and our walks never missed to stop by a perfumery during the weekend or a manufacture as soon as we were travelling. Obviously, when she decided to make her dream come true by creating APONIE, recent graduate of HEC Paris, I chose with no hesitation to to join her into partnership, and so did my sister!

There is a lot of love and humour in your four new fragrances. A collection as a whole, which is very different from other “blockbusters” like Chanel, focusing on “hero” products like N°5….

Indeed, there is a lot of LOVE in our fragrances, the love of perfume firstly, and above all the love of self which is one of the main values of our House. APONIE extols three values that are the love of self, the teaching of happiness and the sublimation of self, which passes by perfume.

In addition to our philosophy of love and happiness, we put a lot of poetry into our fragrances. We realized bold and previously unseen mixes to reach perfumes “that sing the ecstasy of the soul and senses” as Baudelaire said.

We meant to create essences starting from personalities and characters. In this sense, I think our collection must be understood as a whole set but according to his sensitivity, each and everyone will find its own product-hero.

aponie sybaris

The collection is genderless: how did you operate this fusion?

As I said earlier, our starting point for the creation of each perfume was the personality. Our perfumes carry a non-verbal communication that delivers instantly the message of your personality. The family of our first collection is made up of the proud and fiery woman (Mulâtresse), the elegant and distinguished man (Aryballe), the sparkling and serene woman (Jolanta), and the happy and free man (Sybaris).

Our collection was aiming at two fragrances for men and two for women. Once finished, to our greatest surprise, our perfumes Sybaris and Aryballe, initially designed for men, turned out to be unisex, because they happened to be amazingly worn by women. The perfumes still haven’t given all their secrets to the fusion of genders!aponie mulatresse parfum

Should perfume do a bit of politics? :) 

 

:D
The House of APONIE features the richness of interbreeding, the mix of cultures, and the teaching of happiness. If these values talks to you, then we’ll think about it in 2017 using as a programme the Perfumes as a model of unity.

You work with the craftsmen of Grasse ; is it something important to work with the French excellence stakeholders?

This French touch appeared as obvious, with the creation in Grasse, the cradle of perfumes, the manufacture in the Cosmetic Valley, expertise and competitiveness pole, and of course the elegance, the charm and et the character of Paris.

Perfumes and cosmetics are among the best ambassadors of France worldwide. We are proud to be French.

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What’s so great about Instagram? An interview with Kristen Joy Watts, Community Team, Art and Fashion Lead at Instagram

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Fashion Weeks used to be a closed network, with buyers and happy journalists. It Girls were fighting for the FROW. But with Social Media and more specifically Instagram, there’s a brand new playground in which new public and new communities gather. It’s not the Front Row that matters anymore, but the backstage, the making-of, the secret stories propagated and shaped by makers. An ongoing and perpetual reinvention of fashion, which goes beyond conventions and traditional rules. Instagram is our favourite social network (you can follow Vu Quan & lilzeon and his new project). It’s a goldmine to wander around others’ dreams and through people ideas.

Instagram, it’s the reality and the perception of this reality.

We had a chance to chitchat with Kristen Joy Watts, Community Team, Art and Fashion Lead at Instagram to share few ideas, crushes, vision about the network.

Let’s go, in, sta, gram.

Instagram has become one of the ‘places to be’ for fashion brands as well as for fashion enthusiasts. Is there a risk of creating a ‘snacking culture’ for brands that are more luxury oriented?

There is a lot of fashion storytelling on Instagram that is light and fun and fast. We also see really sophisticated, unforgettable storytelling from the fashion community, whether Landon Nordeman’s (@landonnordeman) Instagram-first fashion week coverage for The Cut:

#theCutPFW @rickowensonline Rehearsal #pfw for @thecut #eiffeltower #jaimeparis

A photo posted by Landon Nordeman (@landonnordeman) on

…or Richie Talboy (@okrichie) and Lucas Lefler’s (@lucas_lefler) #emptyrunway series for Vanity Fair. In France too there is a growing community of inspiring creatives on Instagram, from Carin Olsson (@parisinfourmonths) to Tiffany Cooper (@tiffanycooper_) to Simon Portes Jacquemus (@jacquemus). Fashion houses, publications and individuals all over the world look to them for inspiration.

"GRIS" #JACQUEMUS FIRST PRE/COLLECTION / @harleyweir @jamesvaleri @aninevanvelzen

A photo posted by SIMON PORTE JACQUEMUS (@jacquemus) on


We are noticing some emerging trends in the network à la Tumblr (such as pro-ANA movements that are creating support groups) and that you have started to recruit people in order to identify and share the community with the world. How do you identify creative community members ? Do you have dedicated tools and contacts with them?

The Community Team at Instagram was created to discover and elevate the most amazing people and storytelling on Instagram. Our small but mighty team has members in Tokyo, London, Moscow, São Paulo, San Francisco and, of course, New York, where I am based. We celebrate the community on Instagram from North Korea to Nebraska. My discovery process involves everything from research on Instagram to asking everyone I meet if there’s anyone they’ve discovered who I need to know about. I always find amazing people when I’m in Paris.

Success is hard to achieve and gaining numerous followers is a lot of work on Instagram. However, some companies such as Instabrand are created with a view to manage Instagram’s talents. What advice would you give to a talent that is starting on Instagram and wants to join the tribe of very followed accounts?

For us, Instagram is all about the fun of sharing your story and discovering amazing people to follow. Here are a few best practices for someone who’s just starting out. First, tell a consistent story. Second, follow some people you know, some people you don’t know and some people you just discovered (for example, I follow many people in fashion and art but I also follow a florist in Moscow and a lifestyle photographer who captures wonderful images of his two Newfoundland dogs. Finally, connect with other people. This can be through likes and comments or even through meeting in person for coffee or an InstaMeet. The InstaMeet phenomenon, whereby Instagrammers meet in a location to take pictures of scenes which inspire them, allows the community to come together and share their passions and creative processes in new, real relationships with others.

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