Every now and again, a lingerie designer takes my breath away. In a good way – a very good way! Bordelle did it with their stunning ‘Angela’ dress, Kiss Me Deadly did it with their beautiful ‘Elle’ robe (available in red next month!), and Dirty Pretty Things did it with their Show Pony collection of neon babydolls. London College of Fashion graduate and Playful Promises design competition winner Eva Lai has done it several times over with the debut collection for her new lingerie label, eLai. Creating luxury lingerie that simply demands to be seen, Lai has used a delicious colour palette of nude, tan, caramel, chocolate and black – with hints of gold, bronze and blue – reminding me of a kind of decadence I last saw in a Rococo Chocolate shop! She describes the collection on the eLai website:
The debut AW13 collection is developed and extended from my graduate collection at London College of Fashion. It has taken inspiration from historical underwear and given it a modern twist. With the theme of equestrian, the collection uses a lot of leather, buckles and rings, and multiple strapping features. It mixes masculinity into feminine lingerie, with a bit of aggressive edge instead of the usual “pretty” lingerie.
Touch is just as important as the aesthetic. Materials that I use are to invoke the senses. They are aimed to make wearers not just look great, but also to empower and invite confidence.
Lai uses sensual tactile fabrics – including hand knitted black/gold lurex mesh, nappa leather, ombre dip dye French silk chiffon, Chantilly lace, silk jersey and changeant silk taffeta – to “bring out the kind of seductiveness which retains sophistication, with a bit of playful kink and a scintilla of naughtiness!” This is lingerie that’s a long way from some well known luxury brands whose products look amazing in photographs but feel so cheap against your skin. Research has shown that many women wear lingerie to feel good and generate a sense of self – not for the benefit of their partner – so it makes perfect sense to use fabrics which make the experience of the wearer even more enjoyable.
All items in the eLai debut collection are made to order for this first season, with everything handmade in London. Some of the pieces can be ordered now from the eLai Etsy shop and the entire collection can be ordered now through elai.co.uk (N.B. as items are handmade to order, it takes approx 3 weeks for production and delivery). For the exclusive pieces that are not on the shop page, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org with the size and style you’d like to purchase.
This collection is as varied as it is stunning, with a cohesive look yet a variety of styles to suit many shapes. My favourite set from the collection is the ‘Bijou’ long line bra and high-waisted briefs (above) that appeared on the Pure London catwalk this week, but the ‘Pylon’ body (top) and ‘Epona’ gown (right) also caught my eye. I shall definitely be looking out for future collections from eLai with great interest!
UPDATE: Some of eLai’s pieces are now available to buy via Then and Now.