What is Sexy? Trends for 2011

by Ellen Lewis

What is Sexy in today’s world? In my opinion, Sexy is the ability to provoke desire without demanding it. Apple products are sexy. Television’s Mad Men is sexy. Cate Blanchett is sexy.

“What makes lingerie such a vital part of a woman’s wardrobe is its ability to satisfy and stimulate the wearer as well as the observer.”

I believe that lingerie should add class and sass to a woman’s persona. It is an ingredient of empowerment in a woman’s wardrobe. In an economy emerging from the edge of an abyss, amulets of pleasure; chocolate, perfume, flowers, a unique accessory and lingerie have the ability to satisfy this desire for feeling good.

In 2011, the trends in the Intimate Apparel industry reflect the importance of a woman’s self-esteem and her need for personal expression in a chaotic world. Retailers who understand this message will succeed.

Wonder, Dreams and Imagination are embodied in the powerhouse trend of purely gorgeous lingerie. This ultra-feminine story is compiled from what I believe is the lifeblood of beautiful lingerie. It is a story of airy and delicate laces, a tender salute to the antique details found in vintage innerwear. Tiny graphics, tiny flowers, tiny embroideries, tiny details applied with an unexpected twist are colored in cosmetic neutrals and pretty pastels, a tender palette of classic boudoir colors. Fine underwear and sweet sleepwear are rejuvenated here. There is lightness here reminiscent of the escapism provided by a fairytale. It is the world of Pandora in the movie sensation, Avatar. It is an exquisite, secret and sensual abode. We are absorbed into its aura.

Lust for Travel, Global Inspiration and the Rapture of Discovery take intimates on a journey of brilliant colors, bold graphics and hand swept florals. Just as Thomas Friedman wrote that The World is Flat, this trend enables the mixing of cultural design with an eccentric result rich in textures and tone. It is a theme replete with exotic treasures, ornamentation, baroque guipures, and audacious appliques. Tribal influences prevail. The shine of satin and silk make a strong fabric statement in deep, lush colors reminiscent of Gauguin’s Tahitian gardens. There is volume and drape, a major influence on swim and loungewear. Outgoing, spontaneous and optimistic, this voyage is not restrained by boundaries.

The Earth, The Sky and The Sea emerge as functional and casual eco-friendly forces driving the market with a definite homage to nature. Rough and raw edges combined with fragile and fine decoration on natural fiber fabrics are the cornerstone to this trend. It’s soft, billowy, and voluminous silhouettes recall a graceful lifestyle. Pajamas become a highlight as woman honor the sanctity of relaxation and the home. Earthy, vegetable colors and natural fiber lend it an organic and beguiling flavor. Shades of dusty green and leaf motifs emerge. I am reminded of Degas’ mixed media sculpture of The Little 14 Year Old Dancer. We are charmed by innocence, simplicity and artistic character.

Drama, Theater and the Passion for Pleasure are the seductive and erotic backbone to the timeless and torrid theme of daring lingerie. Deep, rich colors of the night anchored always by the quintessential black and red are the backbone chroma of this carnal and emotional story. Engineered silhouettes with architectural lines constructed in rich fabric and juxtaposed with ultra-fine luxurious laces define this trend. Seaming, structure and an emphasis on shape and curves are cornerstones to this theater. Graphic, glamorous and sultry it is a visual crescendo of sensuality. Imagine Christine singing The Music of the Night in Phantom of The Opera. No admirer could resist the provocative allure of this enchantress.

Embedded deep within these emerging fashion movements that help enable a woman’s mystery is a critical message. We do not have to compromise Beauty for Function. Fabrics can perform and still be appealing. Lace can be feminine and enticing whether bold or delicate, floral or graphic. It can float over the body, simple and understated and still make a statement with an unexpected detail or an interesting drape. Lingerie is like jewelry. It can be quiet and worn close to the heart or it can be bold and profess a statement. What matters is that it continues to evoke curiosity and interest.

That is Sexy.

Ellen Lewis is a 25 year veteran of the Intimate Apparel industry with expertise in both the wholesale and retail side of the business. An experienced merchant with vast knowledge of the lingerie market, as well the ability to analyze retail figures in order to position a store for long term growth, she can provide buying, marketing, sales and visual input. Visit her blog: lingeriebriefs.com/blog

Read Ellen’s last article, RETAIL SEDUCTION.

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