Chloe Hamblen, designer of the provocative, high-end British lingerie label Lascivious talks to the Erotic Review about her inspiration, and shares some of her thoughts on female sensuality. Take a look at our gallery which features work by Szymon Brodziak from the latest campaign on Chloe’s newly launched website.
What led you to choose lingerie, as a means to express your creativity?
Several reasons really: I was always creative and interested in art. I studied several disciplines and found that fashion was a way to combine lots of elements that I enjoyed – illustration, design, photography, marketing and the ability to create something tangible in 3-D. This diversity appealed. I felt drawn to lingerie as a specialism. My interest in this field was piqued by a story about a friend of my mothers, who had run away to Paris to pursue her dream of becoming a lingerie designer. During this period I also discovered lingerie brand Agent Provocateur, which was hugely inspiring. I worked with the brand as their first ever intern, moving on to study contour fashion at De Montfort University.
I always had a passion for lingerie, loving the way it could transform a mood and change the dynamic of a situation and have been fortunate to work with some wonderful and inspiring people along the way. I really enjoy that lingerie has the ability to create fun, playfulness and ultimately make people feel good and connect. It always felt natural to move into this area.
What has influenced the themes of your collections?
My inspiration is so diverse that it is difficult to pin down, I am constantly inspired by things around me – there is usually always a reference to nature, for example Ha Long bay in Vietnam was a source of inspiration for AW13, palm trees in LA for SS13. The second key component is the mood or personality of the ‘muse’ that I envisage for a collection, for example feminine, sporty, fierce or a combination of characters. Thirdly there would be a key shape, design line or colour that I would try to draw across the collection – for example a highlight colour or reference to a shape, such as a triangle, within the components or cut of the garments. There are always other inspirations that feed into a collection, for example recently I have been inspired by old x-rays, 60s and 70s playboy and beetles. I also have an incredible team whose input is essential to the collections.
Your designs have an aesthetic that appeals to both sexes. Do you design with the wearer, the lover, or both in mind?
I design with both in mind. We try to think about a variety of needs or uses when designing to create a balanced offer, for example Milla is a more fashion forward style, designed to be seen, and ‘kitty’ a flirty bedroom style. For me Kitty is the ultimate set, it is feminine without being frou frou, it has extremely naughty openings, but the cut is designed to cover you up whilst being completely accessible. It appeals to both men and women and encourages play – this for me is the ultimate aim. Everyone feeling good.
I hear you like martial arts such as kickboxing, Qi Gong & Thai Chi knife form. Would you say this dedication to your physical strength and practise of attack and defence is reflected in the strong, no-frills, look of your collections?
I think my martial arts influence stems from a love of kung-fu movies and my dad – he has studied Tai chi for years and now teaches it. In terms of my work, I think it is more about the culture of respect, discipline and understanding of your body that it fosters. The exercise itself gives me a personal strength and control that perhaps influences my design style, but not directly the aesthetic.
The latest AW13 campaign on your newly launched website by Polish photographer Szymon Brodziak is visually stunning. You describe it as your most sexually charged yet, and also mention that it has started conversations about you being ‘sex-positive’ on line, please go on.
It is interesting that the campaign has taken on a more political tone given its timing. There is obviously now more debate about what should and shouldn’t be freely available online and as such we have to decide what is responsible. I think the message should be to have a healthy attitude to sex, that sex doesn’t need to be tawdry or cheap and that as long as you are being safe, respectful and not hurting anyone, that it is an intrinsic and fulfilling element of life. We try to be open minded and ‘sex positive’ in our approach – our winter campaign and Szymon’s striking imagery reinforces this idea.
In relation to this, it has been written by a certain Frenchman interviewed in this publication that many British women ‘turn out to be unconfident in the bedroom’ and intercourse must be generated by a ‘maximum of alcohol intake’. I would like to coolly discharge myself from this category, but still, when I think of some of my mates’ sex anecdotes they are often blurred by booze. Do you think in our society women lack confidence in the bedroom, or feel inhibited and unable to express themselves freely for fear of appearing wanton or lewd?
I think this is a sweeping generalisation, but of course sometimes women feel unconfident in the bedroom and alcohol can be an easy way to loosen inhibitions. Societal pressures and old-fashioned thinking can certainly add to that. Things have changed massively with the advent of stores such as Coco De Mer and new sex guides like Betony Vernon’s Boudoir Bible. With all of this comes a development in our sexual confidence and outlook, but big changes in attitude and improvements in sex education take time.
We also try within what we do at Lascivious to give women provocative choices that are at the same time sophisticated; allowing them the freedom to express themselves without feeling tawdry.
I would also suggest that your partner is culpable for making you feel confident and relaxed in a sexual situation and perhaps your French man should reconsider his approach with British women before generalising about the entire population.
Thanks Chloe, we will enjoy wearing your latest designs to inspire and drive our lovers crazy and look forward to seeing your next S/S 14 collection!