Drapers speaks to lingerie brand La Perla’s creative director as she expands its ready-to-wear offer and relaunches a classic collection
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Luxury lingerie brand La Perla was founded in Bologna, Italy, in 1954. When Julia Haart (inset, above) joined as creative director in May 2016, her aim was to rejuvenate the label, and for spring 18, she launched its first ever ready-to-wear womenswear collection, based around its famed corsetry. (Retail prices for bras range from £63 to £502, and clothing ranges from £94 for a vest top to £2,975 for a vinyl corset jacket.) For autumn 18, La Perla is set to reintroduce the brand’s Maison collection of lingerie and nightwear. Drapers finds out how Haart is blending its corsetry heritage with modern fabrics to bring the structure of lingerie to women’s ready-to-wear.
What are some of the core developments you have overseen since you started at La Perla?
The corset jacket is one of the first things that I worked on when I joined La Perla. It’s a perfect example of what you can do with modern corsetry. The jacket has built-in cups and is designed to provide the ultimate in feminine definition. I have also introduced stretch into almost everything, across lingerie and womenswear, without altering the thickness of the fabric. We incorporated elastane into cashmere and silk without compromising their quality.
I have also worked on developing bra shapes. Bras aren’t just there for support – the right bra has this miraculous way of enhancing the silhouette and perfecting the way garments sit on the body. We’ve developed the U-shape and V-shape bra, which work magic under deep-plunging necklines and in tricky silhouettes. With the new ready-to-wear, which debuted for spring 18, we wanted to revolutionise the way people think about style, fit and comfort. These qualities don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
What are some of the latest fits and technology developments you are putting into products?
We design our pieces from the inside out. I have seen a strong shift towards clothing that reflects the lifestyles of modern women and there is a need to have the same dedication to fit in ready-to-wear as you do in lingerie. We take a lingerie approach to ready-to-wear to understand how clothes can be made to fit and flatter a woman’s silhouette.
We used our lingerie expertise to develop sizing that incorporates both dress size and cup size. It means you can buy a La Perla dress in a size 8 with a D cup or a size 12 with an A cup. Clothing that fits like it was made-to-measure is a game changer in an industry that has been delivering standardised sizing to its customers.
For autumn 18 you’re reintroducing the Maison collection – tell us about that.
La Perla Maison is a lingerie and nightwear collection that was designed more than 30 years ago in the atelier in Bologna. The defining feature is a beautiful hand-applied embroidery called frastaglio. It is an old Florentine technique, which takes years to master. But it isn’t just beautiful – it’s comfortable too.
[Existing ready-to-wear line] Luxe Leisure is athleisure but with a La Perla twist, and we melded Maison and Luxe Leisure to create a range that blurs the lines between innerwear and outerwear. We use materials such as silk and cashmere, but we add stretch and cut them into silhouettes that make them flattering to wear.
How do you see the lingerie market changing?
The lines between innerwear and outerwear are blurring. We see more women wearing lingerie as outerwear. Slip dresses, bralettes under jackets, bodysuits with jeans – the lingerie we once kept hidden under layers of clothes is now on show with confidence.
How do you hope to develop the brand in the future?
When La Perla was founded [by corsetmaker Ada Masotti] it was one of the first brands to be run by a woman with the sole purpose of making women feel beautiful and empowered. Every woman is beautiful in my eyes and my job is to understand their bodies, their minds, their motivations and their desires. I believe women should have it all: beauty, comfort, sensuality and style, and I want to be the woman to give it to them.
What are you doing to ensure the brand continues to thrive in a challenging market?
It’s simple: don’t focus on trends, but rather the woman you are designing for.
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