Celebrities are going undercover this winter

What do Vladimir Putin and lingerie have in common?

Not a lot. The Russian leader was recently depicted wearing a pink bra and panties in a painting that was confiscated by the St Petersburg police from a local gallery. Obviously Putin didn’t get the brief (no pun intended). Lingerie is hot, even if the Baltic capital isn’t, with sales continuing to rise as intimate trumps Inuit for the winter months ahead.

Despite the recent mercury dip, the €22bn global industry has become a hotbed of competition with celebrity collaborations key for brands keen on boosting profiles and profits. Nobody knows this better than Marks & Spencer, whose design partnership with model-turned-actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley has led to their eponymous Rosie for Autograph range becoming the fastest-selling smalls in the store’s history.

The second ‘anniversary’ line, launched in October, combines pre-Raphaelite references and vintage styling (think soft lace ribbon tie bras and rose print blooms) rendered in silk and French designed lace. The double-barrelled goddess’s willowy frame is clearly no barrier to sales, with bra sizes fitting up to a 40E and knickers up to a 20.

When it comes to sizzling sex appeal, L’Agent Provocateur are experts which explains why they recruited sibling actresses Penelope and Mónica Cruz to co-design their L’Agent diffusion line. The caliente 46-piece collection, available exclusively in Ireland at Brown Thomas Dublin, boasts eight ranges, each with its own design profile ranging from leopard print, mesh, and ’70s gold loop hardware to quixotic bows and frills.

Aside from being priced from a modest €21, the line has drawn its fair share of raised eyebrows since its August launch thanks to its racy ad campaign. Directed and written by Penelope, the six-minute video, which features cameos from sister Mónica and husband Javier Bardem, follows Spanish actor Miguel Angel who, upon donning a pair of L’Agent sunglasses, suddenly sees all the women around him in nothing but their underwear.

Such is the demand for sexy undergarms that Japanese lingerie company Wacoal have launched a bespoke vending machine which doles out various sizes of their Fun Fun week bras. Piloted at the Shibuya-based Une NaNa Cool store, the gizmo also features its own sizing chart for newbies in need of extra support.

Not convinced? Join the queue. Such early adaptor behaviour gets lost in translation when it comes to home turf. According to Arnotts lingerie buyer Emily O’Byrnes, fit comes first for the Irish. “The women that we shop for are fitters and if you’re going to bring them a brand they don’t like it’s not going to work,” she explains.

Having recently launched the department stores’ autumn/winter 13 collections at Dublin’s Vintage Cocktail Club, customers can expect a distinct retro feel across all collections, with new brands La Perla Studio, Huit, and Mimi Holliday offering corsetry, peek-a-boo finishes, and coquettish tulle.

Complimenting existing brands like Triumph, Lejaby, and Chantelle, the new labels, according to O’Byrnes, offer a “sexy but functional” brand mix. Couple this with a complimentary in-store fitting service and those trusty five-pack supermarket cotton briefs might well become a thing of the past.

If the prospect of a tape measure and a total stranger fills you with dread, fear not; there’s an app for that. ThirdLove, a brand under tech firm Mecommerce, is in beta mode with its revolutionary piece of bra-fitting technology. The app allows users to take a selfie of your girls (in a tank top) which then measures your bra size using in-house imaging wizardry developed by a Nasa scientist.

Much like Selfridges’ Bodymetrics body-scanning jeans fitting service, it then curates a selection of best-fitting bras, all of which are designed in-house.

Science may be sexy but don’t hop on the lingerie tardis just yet. If a recent poll by British memory foam mattress company Ergoflex is to be believed, men find women in PJs more attractive when it comes to the boudoir.

Assuming this doesn’t take into account the ineffable (and impractical) popularity of the ‘onesie’, then what nightwear nuances does this include: Fleece, silk, flannel? Any of the above, provided there’s a cache of ‘cute’, according to the poll.

Heatons’ value-centric autumn/winter offerings tick all of the boxes, from matching floral chem-ise and robe pairings to adorable mix n match printed hoodies and bottoms — all from €9.

According to the catwalks, you might even get some extra wear out of those jim jams. Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton championed the underwear as outwear trend with pyjama pantsuits, sheer bralets, and tealength nighties. The key to pulling off the look appears to be an oversized car coat and a look of digestible torpor (that usually helps).

Too revealing? Corsets are a more mainstreamed option and work double time as fancy asset-enhancing shapewear, especially when paired with a mannish tuxedo or pencil skirt.

If the prospect of baring all leaves you cold, don’t get your knickers in a twist. Rumour has it ‘Big Chill’ thermals will be a fashion must-have. Whether this season’s thinsulate collections will bear a likeness to our pal Vladimir is another story!


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