IN THE world of fashion, nothing arguably can speak of luxury more than lingerie. Its inherently intimate nature as clothing worn next to the skin invites designers to use delicate fabrics with the most luxurious of details in styles that play with the inner imagination, ranging from ladylike creations to undeniably sexy concoctions. Like all luxury consumers, the woman who buys and wears expensive lingerie wants something that is beautifully designed with a unique provenance that makes her feel confident, sensual and powerful. This is not an easy thing to do, as many well known high-end lingerie brands often go too far and overdesign. Yet, no brand has mastered the balance between elegant glamour and full-on raciness in lingerie more than La Perla.
Founded in 1954 by Ada Masotti, a trained corset maker, La Perla got its start as a boutique lingerie laboratory in Bologna. From its inception, the company’s products were sold like fine jewels – presented in a box lined in red velvet, which gave them an undeniably luxe feel. Masotti fused her skills in corsetry and her sense of the female body with the old Italian heritage for high-end undergarments, producing a company that over the course of 60 years became one of the world’s most exclusive lingerie brands.
Intelligent marketing and brand presentation
The art of La Perla lies not only in the exquisite presentation and craftsmanship of its products but also in intelligent marketing and brand presentation. Sold through the world’s best department stores and in a handful of flagship boutiques and shops in select cities around the world, La Perla has gained a reputation as one of the main Italian luxury lingerie labels. The company’s exposure has been arguably limited, though perhaps deliberately so. However, La Perla’s new parent company, the Pacific Global Management Group, a London-based global talent management company, which acquired the brand in 2013, is now seeking to expand its exposure as a luxury name without falling pray to the brand dilution that has beset so many of its competitors. Thus far, these efforts are well executed and innovative, showing the brand’s initiative to reach out to consumers in a forward-thinking way.
For instance, La Perla recently opened a new flagship boutique at 9 Old Bond Street in London. This new flagship, designed by Italian architect Roberto Baciocchi, comes from the same new interior aesthetic as its sister store on Sloane Street, successfully marrying Italian modern design with traditional English architecture, elevating historic elements of the building to a new level of chic. Original features like an internal wooden staircase and period fireplaces on the third floor complement the walls, which are draped in painted pastel fabrics.
Exclusivity and enhanced intimacy
The flagship windows contain Italian-style arches covered in pink onyx, creating a doorway into the interior of the boutique, where La Perla merchandise are simply displayed on golden hangers in transparent cases or in velvet-lined trays, in honour of Masotti’s original vision. Much of the impact of this new space is its feeling of exclusivity and enhanced intimacy, which are well supported by the espace privé on the store’s second floor, where VIPs access more exclusive services, like the new Made to Measure service. From December 2014, this new Bond Street flagship will also be home to the brand’s new concept menswear line, which just launched at Pitti Uomo in Milan.
It is no understatement that fine lingerie, like any clothing, is most efficacious when it feels personal and empowering to whoever is wearing it. This is what fast fashion misses; and this is where bespoke and made-to-measure tailoring becomes the next era for the luxury industry. In an age where digital has saturated consumers with brands and brand marketing, people are hungry for unique, personalized service and for a narrative that means something to them. For lingerie, this comes in the form of sensitivity to fit, body proportion, and individual style in fabric, color choice, and a range of pieces.
Made to Measure service
La Perla’s new Made to Measure service is thus timely, as each piece within the collection is entirely bespoke, handmade in Bologna from luxe materials such as patented gold thread from Piana Clerico, a textiles factory founded in the 16th-century. The new La Perla Made to Measure service comprises three collections – the Maison Gold Edition Collection, the Filigrane Collection, and the Cristallo Nero Collection, which range in price from £1,300 to £33,600 and can take up to four weeks to be made, with one to two fittings.
Both the new La Perla flagship boutique on Bond Street and its new Made to Measure service reveal the brand as an interesting new leader in the lingerie market. While the ability to blend old and new techniques are perhaps not new to either lingerie or architecture, La Perla’s unique blend of customised service and modern convenience in a beautifully-curated space is nonetheless a welcome addition to the luxury scene.
by Jessica Quillin