Designer Spotlight: Liz Marrell of Q-T Intimates
by Luis Paredes and Christi Reid
It’s easy to forget that the lovely lacy concoctions we encounter in stores and showrooms start with a drawing and a dream. Lingerie is an art form born from a passion to instill confidence by enhancing the body and providing women assurance of their curves. Over the past few years, we’ve tried to capture the essence behind designers’ inspiration to take up the craft. This month we put the Designer Spotlight on Liz Marrell of Q-T Intimates.
Liz is the designer and part of the talented Q-T Intimates team behind the new Crème Bralée Lingerie collection – a fashion-forward line of bras and panties available in an extensive size range. Over a year in the making, Liz helped launch the collection utilizing her design skills and drawing inspiration from her background in dance and passion for the arts.
Wanting to learn more, we sat down with both Liz Marrell and Meryl Kutzin, VP of Merchandising of Q-T Intimates, earlier this month at the company’s showroom to talk about Liz’s work and how she helped bring Crème Bralée to life. Meryl also gives us insight into how and why retailers should take the time to consider this new and flexible collection for their own customers.
Additionally, we’ve included some new, unreleased images from the Crème Bralée collection courtesy of Q-T so you can see for yourself just how fashion-forward yet versatile the pieces can be.
About the Designer
Above: Designer Liz Marrell of Q-T Intimates and Crème Bralée.
Have you always been on track to be an intimates designer?
LM: I used to be a planner in ready-to-wear but I wanted to go into a more creative field and I thought intimates would be the best way to escape and experience creativity and fantasy.
Liz, how did your passion for lingerie start?
LM: Well, my passion for lingerie has always been within me and I’ve always loved all things sheer and lace. Honestly, it is something that has been with me for a very long time.
At work do you listen to music while designing?
LM: All the time! Sometimes I like to start my mornings off with something a little mellow like Motown or indie rock but if I’m working a big project I like to pump myself up by listening to hip-hop, rock, and dance music.
Above: the Q-T Intimates Showroom featuring Crème Bralée.
A lot of the NYC-based designers we talked to say the city is a huge source of inspiration for them. What is it about New York that inspires you?
LM: Well, New York City is a walking city and I’m inspired by the women I see on the streets. There are a lot of confident, beautiful, successful women in the city and their attitude is reflected in the way they carry and present themselves.
If you weren’t here at Q-T Intimates what would you be doing?
LM: I would be a dancer because I was a dance major in high school.
Has dance influenced your work?
LM: Absolutely! When you are designing lingerie it’s all about the body and how the garments fit you. As a trained ballet dancer you’re able to have that connection and that translates into my design.
Above and from left: Q-T Intimates’ Meryl Kutzin and Liz Marrell
What’s your favorite piece of lingerie?
LM: A garter belt that I wear in the winter with thigh high stockings. It’s black lace and makes me feel sexy. I don’t wear it often but when I do…[laughs].
What brands inspire you?
LM: I would have to say the workmanship of John Paul Gaultier and Alexander McQueen is inspiring because of the intricate detail of their corsetry and how its used in their couture.
What other passions do you have?
LM: I love to travel. I love art. I’m inspired by everything I see. When I do go and see new things I put it into what I design.
Above and from left: the Q-T Intimates Team – Liz Marrell, Designer; Khaaliqa Squire, Assistant Designer, Matila Q-T’s mannequin; Meryl Kutzin VP Production and Merchandising; Deena Goodman, Merchandise Manager; Chris Zogas, Sales Manager and Olga Korol, Technical Designer.
“We’re a small team so it’s very intimate. When we share knowledge with each other it makes me a better designer.” – Liz Marrell
What’s it been like working with the Q-T Intimates team?
LM: It’s been great. We’re a small team so it’s very intimate. When we share knowledge with each other it makes me a better designer.
With the Crème Bralée line with whom do you work with on the Q-T Intimates team?
LM: I work with everyone here at Q-T from sales to merchandising to production. I get to be involved in all aspects of the lingerie field.
About Crème Bralée
“One of the things that Liz did when she designed the line was to pay attention to the intricate little things in the details of the bras such as the straps, hook and eye, the comfort of everything that goes into the garment.” – Meryl Kutzin
Crème Bralée offers a wide spectrum of sizes – why was it important to offer this selection?
MK: Women come in all shapes and sizes. Bras don’t necessarily do that. A lot of the women out there are more curvy than they used to be, more full busted for various reasons. We felt that in order for these women to be able to afford a beautiful, sophisticated line we wanted to design something that would cover all sizes from B-C 32s up to 46 G’s and give them a flattering panty and garter belt to go with it.
How do you feel retailers can take advantage of a collection like Crème Bralée?
MK: They are going to be very happy with the price points we are offering and take advantage of the margins that come with these price points. Retailers and their customers will be very happy with the fit with the details of the line.
“[Retailers] are going to be very happy with the price points we are offering. They are going to be able to take advantage of the margins that come with these price points.” – Meryl Kutzin
What is the most important thing – materials etc. the team took into consideration when designing?
LM: Quality of materials, flattering colors for all skin tones, timeless yet fashionable colors, trims and accessories that give the garment a luxurious feel and appearance.
How long did it take you to bring it to life from conception to first samples?
LM: We started this project about a year ago with the goal of filling a void in the market for flattering bras for all women’s bodies at an affordable price. We designed the garments with fashion in mind and then worked continuously with fit models of all sizes and body types to perfect the fit for each size and style, concentrating on full busted and plus sizes.
The Crème Bralée Production and Design Process
“Fit, Comfort & Support: All three elements must come together in a workable formula for success.”
Above: Q-T Intimates’ Olga Korol examing a Crème Bralée bra.
What’s been your biggest design challenge?
LM: Perfecting our fit and providing comfort and support in a very technical garment. All three elements must come together in a workable formula for success. If it doesn’t fit then it’s not going to work and it has taken a lot of time and work to get that perfected.
What’s been the biggest challenge in launching this new brand?
LM: Executing the designs into a workable production schedule and price point. Also, getting the retailer to understand who we are and what we are trying to accomplish with this new line. Getting the consumer to realize that a “big brand” isn’t always the answer to satisfy her needs is a challenge as well.
Where do you see Crème Bralee being sold in the U.S. and or abroad?
LM: I see Crème Bralee sold at boutiques, on ecommerce sites, at small brick-and-mortar stores and I see Crème Bralée going into the department stores. There’s a lot of value to our product and we want to be able to show our customers and their consumers that we can fulfill the needs for them in a way other major brands cannot.
What’s next? What’s on the horizon?
LM: Actually, we are going to extend our collection to a sassy and sophisticated plus size line called “Crème de la Crème”. It’s going to be the next level up from Crème Bralee. Stay tuned for more details!
Any plans for tradeshows, events, trunk shows?
LM: We will be looking into participating at the CURVENY trade show in August. Because we have a showroom in NY, we are trying to see the feasibility of also doing the show. Our showroom is open 50 weeks a year to show the line.
For all readers that want to learn more about Crème Bralée – who should they call for samples and press?
LM: For Retailers to learn more about our line they can contact Chris Zogas, National Sales Manager at 212.532.8930 X 317, firstname.lastname@example.org
For Press, they can contact Meryl Kutzin, VP Merchandising at email@example.com
Special Event: See the Crème Bralée Collection In Person
Q-T Intimates is hosting a special Launch Event at their showroom on Wednesday, May 15, 2013. Buyers and press are invited to attend for the opportunity to meet the Q-T team and see the Crème Bralée Collection. Please RSVP to cremebraleelingerie.eventbrite.com.