The secrets of my straps

The secrets of my straps

by Marlies Dekkers

Framing your beauty, they reshaped the lingerie industry and are still empowering women after 30 years. What is the story behind my iconic straps?

It all started, like most things do, with the most iconic design of all time: the female body. In this case, the body belonged to a nude model, whose beautiful curves I was sketching during art class, many years ago. I always knew I wanted to be an artist, but I hadn’t chosen a direction yet. Should it be a so-called ‘fine art’, like painting or sculpting, or something more ‘applied’, like fashion or industrial design? And then it hit me: what if I, as a female artist, used a woman’s body as my canvas? What if I framed a woman's beauty with my design, making her fall in love with her reflection in the mirror, empowering her to follow her dreams? I had found my calling: lingerie for women, by women.

What do women want? After centuries of the male point of view dominating art and design, it was time to (re)discover how we could feel strong, sexy and beautiful - on our own terms. Tired of objectification, my lingerie had to be a collaboration: my design, your body and being, our art. I had always been fascinated with the interplay between what’s revealed and concealed. A bare leg is beautiful, but add black stockings, and the contrast between the skin and fabric creates an electrifying tension. That dynamic became the key to all my designs, and the strap turned out to be the perfect tool to frame your unique beauty. Together, we would unlock new ways to feel strong, sensual and gorgeous. The rest, as they say, is lingerie history.

Let's take a look at one of my most popular, iconic designs: the Dame de Paris bra. You immediately notice the play of lines adorning the top of the cups; three thin straps following the curve of the breasts. Now imagine the bra without these straps. It would be a lot less powerful, don’t you think? The first time I saw the Dame de Paris bra come to life on a woman’s body, I was mesmerized. Through the visual rhythm of the design – skin, black strap, skin, black strap - the wearer perfected the interactive design. She looked empowered, as did the badass celebs who rocked this bra throughout the years, from Rihanna to Lady Gaga. But besides our chest, there were so many other 'power zones' I uncovered with my designs! The hips, the small of our backs, that striking triangle between our shoulder blades. Yes, long before our current obsession with beautiful, big bums, I created an ode to our backsides, causing quite a stir with my 'Bare Bottom dress'. Together with Rembrandt's 'The Night Watch', it is now part of the Rijksmuseum's permanent collection.

When a design is still loved and worn after several decades, it can rightfully be called a classic (and a school example of sustainability, to boot). To have an entire collection of design icons - my Signature Collection - is an enormous achievement for me as a designer, as you can imagine! These are the styles that reshaped the lingerie industry, that made it cool to show your straps. I remember the thrill of seeing women starting to plan their entire outfits around their bras, and proudly rocking their innerwear as outerwear. But the real revolution doesn't take place in fashion magazines or on Instagram. It happens in the intimacy of a dressing room or bedroom, when a woman stands in front of the mirror in her Dame de Paris bra or Space Odyssey string, and falls madly in love with her reflection. It happens every time a woman feels ready to take on the world. And as far as I'm concerned, that will keep happening, strap by strap.

Most loved
fall|winter 20 preview

Marlies Says

fall|winter 20 preview

by marlies|dekkers

In January, I presented my newest FW20 collection during a show full of dance and entertainment in Rotterdam. All my work as a feminist designer is inspired by muses, powerful female icons from past and present. And for FW20, my muse will be crime writer Agatha Christie. A few months from now, you will get to discover the collections, and see how they tell stories like Agatha’s thrilling books do..

Running for your life

MD Friends

Running for your life

by marlies|dekkers

Dr. Bram Bakker is a psychiatrist, a writer, a runner and a provocateur. With his many bestselling books and columns – and yes, even his own theatre show – he urges us to think outside the box when it comes to our mental health. Not crazy about popping pills? Bram shared some interesting alternatives with me, from throwing out our phones to running ‘till we puke’.

Peas & peppers instead of pills

MD Friends

Peas & peppers instead of pills

by marlies|dekkers

General practitioner Tamara de Weijer believes that we would feel a lot better if we hit the produce stand before we visited the pharmacy. “On a massive scale, we have been putting the wrong kind of fuel in our bodies.”

Singles Day – You’ve Got this!

Marlies Says

Singles Day – You’ve Got this!

by marlies|dekkers

All the single ladies, listen up! With single women rapidly becoming the majority, it is high time to stop feeling singled out. This Singles Day, let’s celebrate our freedom and independence by sharing all those solo milestones that make us go: ‘You’ve got this!’.