Create Couture Lingerie - Threads

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Create Couture Lingerie

Elegant couture camisole
Hand-sculpted Alençon lace edges, elegant silk charmeuse, and decorative buttons
Narrow galloon lace
Elegant couture camisole

Elegant couture camisole

by Alexandra Armillas
from Threads #135, pp. 34-39

The intricate beauty and delicacy of fine lace and lingerie have been great inspirations to me. Sewn by machine or by hand, couture lingerie is cut to fit and combines hand-selected and balanced lace with luxurious fabrics and delicately executed buttons and fittings.

Here, I describe how I learned about couture lingerie and how you can make your own. I attended the Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T.) and interned at Christian Dior Lingerie during my senior year. When I graduated, Dior offered me a full-time position, and I received wonderful training in couture lingerie. The experience of working with extraordinary French laces-especially Alençon lace-and the finest cottons, silks, and novelty fabrics only reinforced my deep love of exquisite lingerie.

Later, after I worked for an innovative, contemporary company for several years and ran a small business that produced one-of-a-kind, couture lingerie from antique embroideries and silks, I again came to the attention of Christian Dior Lingerie-and a twenty-year stint as their head designer ensued. It was thrilling to create the concept of a lingerie collection-something that did not exist in the industry when I returned to Dior.

  Use buttons like jewelry. They are carefully selected to enhance the garment's overall feminine aura.

Evolving with Dior
Over time, the Dior line evolved to two-hundred-piece per year collections for each of its five markets. The fabrics and silhouettes covered an extensive variety of techniques that included tailored, yarn-dyed, striped pajamas with embroidered emblems accompanied by Savoy Row quality tailored robes; christening gowns in the finest cotton lawn or silk; and silk bridal sets with French lace appliqué accompanied by luxurious silk, velvet, or brocade robes. An even more opulent collection called "Dior Le Connoisseur" allowed me to create truly couture, extraordinarily complex originals, using many imported and gossamer components.

Designing for Dior required biannual visits to the House of Dior in Paris, which was always inspiring. My deep love of France and its culture, people, and decorative arts, grew on every trip. I also had the honor of designing and launching the Oscar de la Renta Sleepwear Collection and of working with one of the finest people in the fashion industry-a true icon.

What's couture?
Couture lingerie is always worth the price. What is priceless is the sense of beauty and serenity an exquisite piece can impart to one's sense of self, well being, and happiness. With loving care, a couture piece can last a very long time.

The average lingerie sold today is serviceable and readily replaced. Most pieces do the job of providing something to sleep in, which is quite different from creating an heirloom that inspires a transcendent state and sweet dreams. I have always believed the private, inner world of a woman is where her life should begin and that couture lingerie is an important part of this world.

A couture camisole is a truly versatile addition to any woman's wardrobe. You can wear it to bed with a matching bikini, tap pants, or long pants for 1930s glamour. You can wear it to work under a suit or with a pair of jeans for an evening out with friends.

The techniques I demonstrate here are essentially the same as ones you would use to create a chemise, ballerinalength gown, or long gown. You can use some of the lace steps to create other lingerie pieces such as matching robes or bodysuits.

Photocopy Drape
Photocopy your lace. It simplifies the designing steps and conserves the real lace.   Drape your pattern. Use silk charmeuse to drape your original pattern or to test your commercial pattern.

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Comments (10)

StinaP StinaP writes: This is so beautiful. I really should try in a dove grey charmeuse... And it would be lovely to hear you talk more about Dior (the best couturier).
Posted: 1:02 am on July 16th

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Posted: 7:55 pm on November 11th

lochencoba lochencoba writes: Always a will admire, the art in lingerie,
from Alexandra Armillas.

The rich touch of lace embroyderie,
and the style, and the cualities
of materials make this beatiful piece.
Am glad that you continue in the world
of art,
Posted: 4:17 pm on August 19th

PointPatou PointPatou writes: This remains one of my favorite Thread pieces, perhaps my favorite. The design, the construction, the styling, it's all there.

Posted: 9:52 am on August 11th

dezzyw dezzyw writes: What is the momme? 28?
Posted: 3:23 am on February 25th

dezzyw dezzyw writes: An Excellent article about couture lingerie. For Pixistix, you can find galloon lace at house Here is the link for one item in particular...

Look under bridal lace for other selections. As well check with Mood Fabrics, here is the link...
Instead of looking for 'gallon lace' which is an industry term, just look for lace and choose the symmetrical lace. It's quite common and is easy to find.

Posted: 1:43 pm on February 23rd

SewCraftful SewCraftful writes: Thank you for the information. You're very talented. I want to attempt to make some vintage lingerie pieces. Hopefully, I'll be able to incorporate your ideas and suggestions into the construction of my garments. Thanks again.
Posted: 3:14 pm on December 26th

designing designing writes: I really liked this article...The lingerie is very pretty.
Posted: 11:47 pm on June 16th

Pixistix Pixistix writes: The designs are beautiful. Where can I find galloon lace? I have been looking for it after being inspired by this article but am having no luck.
Posted: 5:04 pm on February 9th

HELENAD HELENAD writes: Very good article, good design. Really showcases how FIT teaches...I also majored in Lingerie Design at FIT!!!
Posted: 8:41 pm on December 2nd

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