In a year of ups and downs for the underwear industry, it was Paris-based designer Ludovic de Saint Sernin’s ‘million-dollar eyelet brief’ which captured the imagination
2019 has been a year of ups and downs for the underwear industry: after a slew of controversies and slumping sales, American lingerie behemoth Victoria’s Secret announced they would not be holding their annual televised runway show – meanwhile, in September in New York, a rather more triumphant Rihanna hosted her own runway show for underwear label Savage X Fenty (which was subsequently streamed on Amazon). In the months between, a string of new labels grew devoted followings, from eco-friendly ELLISS, based in London, to body-positive American brand Aerie, which famously refuses to Photoshop any of its advertising campaigns.
However it is Ludovic de Saint Sernin – the young Paris-based clothing designer, known for a sensual, gender-fluid aesthetic – who made perhaps the definitive undergarment of the latter half of the decade: his signature eyelet brief, a lace-up style first made in leather, which has subsequently found fans the world over (the braver of which send photographs of themselves in the style to NSFW spin-off Instagram account @ludovicdesaintserninx). Since the eyelet brief’s first appearance in De Saint Sernin’s debut Spring/Summer 2018 collection, his underwear offering has expanded manifold, from thongs – whether in hand-knitted crotchet or Swarovski crystal – to his ‘Mawashi’ style, a sensual iteration of the loincloths worn by sumo wrestlers (or, most recently, a variety of reflective styles, which appear luminous when light is shone upon them).
But it was the ‘million-dollar eyelet brief’ – part of the designer’s Autumn/Winter 2019 collection inspired by the halcyon days of the 1990s supermodel – which captured the fashion industry’s imagination. A playful nod towards the ridiculously bejewelled, multi-million dollar ‘Fantasy Bras’ which once closed the Victoria’s Secret catwalk show, this iteration of De Saint Sernin’s signature style is entirely encrusted with glittering Swarovski crystals, demonstrated on the runway by Berlin-based model Emil Filippo (he closed the show wearing the style and nothing else). “It’s time guys get their glam movement, too, as well as the freedom to wear whatever,” the designer told Vogue at the time.
Here, the year’s most memorable underwear is captured by photographer Maxime Imbert and AnOther’s junior fashion editor Rebecca Perlmutar, alongside an understated – but no less covetable – bra by Sweden-founded label COS.
Hair: Kei Takano using Bumble and Bumble. Make-up: Fiona Gallagher. Model: Tao Quan at Wilhelmina. Casting: Julia Gilmour.