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La Fille d’O & Sebastien Meunier collaborate in de-gendering lingerie

Although lingerie can be seen as a fashion statement, it is not always easy to find a sexy and refined style. It is difficult to find lingerie that is both size-inclusive and sexy, or for someone of color to find nude undergarments on them. Rachel Angell, a recent FIT graduate, says that lingerie is heavily marketed to women. There are signs of progress, but not at the mass level (i.e. The proposed reinvention of Victoria’s Secret and niche.

A collaboration between Sebastien Méunier (ex Martin Margiela, Ann Demeulemeester), and Murielle Victorine Scheerer, founders of La fille d’O, is the most ambitious rethinking I’ve ever seen of intimate apparel. To highlight its gender inclusion focus, it launches this week during menswear season. The line is for everyone, regardless of their gender, size, stage of development, or transition. It was modeled by La fille d’O clients who wore the pieces.

Although this isn’t the first time the Belgians have collaborated, it is the most significant. Meunier had a passion for themes related to body transformation and identity early in his career. This was partly influenced by his past. He said that he was a very thin guy. “Very thin, very fragile, and during that period, I was fascinated by muscle men, they were my gay idols. But I couldn’t have muscles. I created a collection of red and black leather that was shown at Hyeres. It included pieces with built-in muscles.

Ann Demeulemeester Meunier began to draw out feminine qualities in his menswear designs and masculine characteristics in his women’s wear. He said, “It’s important that we work to make people feel free with their identities. Not to choose for them but to let them explore and find their way.” “There are a lot more people now who are more open and ready to explore their options and feel more comfortable doing so. It’s the right time for it, I believe.”

Scherre discusses the Sebastien Meunier et La fille d’O collection’s construction and her thoughts about the state of the lingerie market and what needs to change.

What were you hoping to achieve with this project?
My job is to provide ‘le support’, which means support. My store was becoming more popular with gender non-conforming customers. I noticed that they were impressed by our aesthetics but not our fit. Lingerie is perhaps the most gendered item in our wardrobe. It was time to make it more gender-neutral.

We were able to work with Sebastien Meunier to address the individual needs of the community and also elevate the designs beyond the function level, into the realms of luxury and fashion as an expression of our self.

Why is this important?
I as an intimate apparel company need to be able to support people in whatever circumstances they may face. A person can choose a brand. I find it fascinating that a brand can choose their customer and offer products to help them. To ensure a long-lasting relationship, I do not want to be the only brand you turn to when you need clothing for private events. I want to be there for you while you’re nursing your baby, recovering from a mastectomy, and as you begin to feel your body after gender-affirming surgery. When you’re putting on a performance, and need the right costume for your alter ego, I want to be the brand that you can turn to. I want to be the brand that you can trust when you feel comfortable in every part of your body.

Why is this product important?
Although it might seem like the times are changing, discussions about gender and identity may be a sign of the times. But let’s not mistake a temporary trend for deep progress. Gender non-conforming individuals have been around for a long time. We have reduced the number of gender expressions to just two. People will eventually reject these restrictions, and it is rightly so.

Do we need to live a binary existence? What if we have to choose between buttons that go left to right and right to left? We don’t feel the same 24 hours straight so why limit ourselves to a binary life? It’s liberating to take your clothes out of the closet and put them back where they belong, to serve you.

Clothes make us miserable because they reduce us to the 0-1 gender. Clothes make us make choices that we shouldn’t–not for clothes. Fashion should offer us space and draw us in to discover our identities.

Did your design require new methods to accommodate different shapes and sizes?
Since we are dealing with a mixture of elements like biological sex and gender expression, I have never dived so deeply into research. La fille d’O is also expanding its size range, so Sebastien and I decided to increase the size range to include sizes 1-13. We also decided that most of the items should be reversible so that they can be styled according to the occasion. Additional elements were added to the mix such as tops for women who have had breast cancer and want to wear flats.

I began to see similarities in all of these physical bodies, with all their expressions. This is where there are options. This was a very liberating experience for me, both as a person and as a designer. I was able to see ‘lingerie’ in a new way through this research. If I was to move forward, I needed to break down the formula into its raw components. To allow people to create their intimate clothing, I had to separate the cup from the underwire. Check out for more –

Also, we were lacking in vocabulary. We had to consider possible body dysphoria when dealing with gender-nonconforming people. Designers often refer to people’s bodies, but this could be very uncomfortable for some people. So we created the terms “flat fit” and “bottom cup”. A flat-fit top doesn’t have darts, which creates no extra cup depth. Flat-fit versions of our classic bra designs were created so that people with no breasts could wear them. We also had to design bottom cups, which allow for penis or packing.

My team and I were able to refer to the garments and not the body parts, which created a safe space for our models and me to explore and develop designs without having to mention a body that doesn’t always feel like home.

Layering offers many possibilities for personal support. We started with a single module to ensure that all hemlines were layered correctly. This allowed us to create full looks. You can choose between opaque or sheer fabrics for most designs. This allows you to show or hide specific body parts as you wish. Every garment can flatten, enhance or exaggerate certain body parts. Some of the garments are reversible so it’s possible to show your breasts or block out your chest using a top. When it comes to patternmaking, I am always up for a challenge.

What do you think is the future of the lingerie industry? Or is it?
Even if there’s no change, there’s always something that can happen. Even though the object is the same, the context can change. It is amazing to me, having been in this industry since 2003. The quality of lingerie in fast fashion is worse than it was 200 years ago. It is hard to believe how much we have changed and how much our lives have expanded, yet our underwear remains the same as it was 200-years ago. This is absurd.

Although some brands use recycled yarn for their lingerie designs, it is still a poor step in comparison to fashion’s history. You could draw a line drawing of the most popular silhouettes from the past hundreds of centuries. But, in underwear, everything is the same every time. It drives me crazy!

New needs are being created in this era, as well as new clothes. Our lingerie is also out of fashion. In terms of sustainability, I don’t see many initiatives. Bio Cotton is as fancy and trendy as it gets most times. Or, to take a size 40 model as an example, call her size-inclusive. Our lingerie needs to be improved. It is 2021, and big brands are only now looking at changing their casting philosophy or allowing Photoshop to be used moderately. This is not enough.

What would you like to see in the industry?
Our look is built on lingerie. There are many options. Our bodies are flexible and so should our lingerie. I don’t want lingerie to be in the unmentionables section; I want it free from gender. We should have our clothes taken off the floors of department stores, where we are forced to choose between swimwear or lingerie. You should have briefs that are versatile and can be both.

I want my intimate clothing to be modeled by people who look like me, and the people I love. Because they are beautiful as is, I want to see them exactly how they are. Photoshop can’t alter the beauty of people. All these beautiful garments must be made by people who are paid the same as me and can live like me. We can make fashion more sustainable, just like nature.

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