Everyone who works in the lingerie industry will be fully aware of the run up to Christmas is one of the most stressful times of year. Whether it be the constant push for sales, the struggle of fulfilling higher than usual demands or the manic sewing in the run up, it’s not a particularly joyous time until the doors are finally shut for the holidays. Consequently, for the last few years I’ve been organising a Secret Santa specifically for independent lingerie designers. Everyone receives a beautiful lingerie gift from another designer. It’s an excellent pick me up at a manic time of year, especially since many designers can’t normally justify the expense of purchasing more pretty lingerie!
For the 2015 Secret Santa, I received my gift from Irene at Pillowbook: a couture lingerie brand specialising in exquisite silks based in Beijing. I’d been admiring the brand from afar for a while now. There’s a lot to love about their philosophy, from the focus on exquisite couture craftsmanship to the dedication to reducing fabric waste (all garments are made to order and offcuts are upcycled).
When I opened my gift, it honestly made me want to cry. It wasn’t just the beautiful wrapping (though the calligraphy paper, rope bows and matching silk pouch were all stunning!), but the perfection of construction and attention to detail. I can honestly say that I haven’t seen an equivalently well made piece of lingerie outside my 1930s lingerie collection; and trust me, that’s a big deal. (as an aside – you’ll be getting to see the first of my vintage lingerie feature posts very soon!). I particularly adored the personal touches to the labels: each garment is signed off by the couturier who crafted it.
I received the Shhh… half cup bra and tap pants with a matching eyemask, in a beautiful ‘midnight’ blue and ‘caramel’ orangey red (though it’s worth noting that as each piece is made to order, you can customise the designs to your personal colour tastes!). Each piece is impeccably constructed. All seams are beautifully enclosed, with intricate art-deco taping embellishment and incredible attention to detail. The tap pants in particular blew me away: the hem on this piece is hand stitched precisely for an utterly seamless finish. The stitches are utterly tiny, so you can only see them if you’re looking for them with a keen eye: realistically, you could wear these shorts inside out and they’d still look beautiful!
The bra I absolutely adore because it’s the perfect mix of couture elegance and unashamed naughtiness. I’d like to think that’s a rather excellent representation of my personal lingerie style! The fit is utterly perfect and it’s the most flattering half cup/cupless bra that I own. What’s particularly worth noting though is the beautiful custom clasp, featuring Pillowbook’s logo: such a beautiful interpretation of a functional closure. Perhaps not as suitable for everyday as a hook and eye but certainly preferred for special occasions.
Even the eyemask is impeccable: from the silk covered adjustable straps, to the beautiful sheer panel showcasing all the soft silk offcuts that are used to pad the piece out. Truly, it’s the most couture example of upcycling I’ve ever seen! I particularly adore the silk ‘pockets’ on this piece and the fact that they include organza wrapped rosebuds. They smell delightful, and I’ve since discovered that they can be used to make tea!
You can read all about Irene’s Secret Santa experience on the Pillowbook blog. I’m sure that you may have managed to guess from this gushing post, but I am utterly in love with her brand. This gift was more than I could have ever imagined. I don’t want to totally overload this post with detail photos, as tempting as it is… So I’m sharing them over on tumblr!
I’m already saving up for my next Pillowbook set: the brand has since released its new ‘Empress Noir’ collection which honestly makes me feel a bit giddy. From the graphic embroidery to the delicate silk knots… I have so much lingerie lust. This set will be mine this year, even if it means I buy no other lingerie!
Have you heard of Pillowbook Lingerie before? How much does the craftsmanship behind your lingerie mean to you?