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Why I used to design only black, white and red lingerie

Why I used to design only black, white and red lingerie

by Marlies Dekkers

If you could wear only one colour of lingerie for the rest of your life, what colour would that be? Would you go for basic black lingerie or minimalist white pieces? Or perhaps your drawers would be stuffed with smokin’ hot red lingerie sets?

It may seem like a weird question coming from a person who has a walk-in closet just for her lingerie –a candy store for grown ups with the wildest colours and patterns imaginable!- but when I was ready to conquer the world with my designs, over 20 years ago, that was exactly the question I had to ask myself.

There I was, having graduated cum laude from a prestigious art academy, with such big plans, and such a small budget! I had supported myself by washing dishes; not the most glamorous job, but I like to work hard, and by eating people’s leftovers, I managed to save a bit more money.

But when I started shopping around for materials for my first lingerie collection, I found out that for each type of fabric, you have to buy a minimum of one roll. That is 500 meters, and a whole lot of money! I did the math: if I could use up about 100 meters for one collection, and save the rest for three more collections, I could pull it off. No room for variation however. So I decided I would do what Picasso did when he entered his ‘blue period’: stick to one colour, and OWN it. I bought a roll of black fabric.

Many black lingerie and knicker sets later, I had enough money for a new colour: white. After that, I went for red. And so, ten years went by and I had only been able to use three colours.. But you know what? By now I knew how they affected a design, how they changed your skin tone and mood.* I had mastered them.

Quite a few years later I was asked to have my first big show in Paris. At this point, I could afford to use any fabric in any colour; from paisley and pinstripe to the brightest metallics. I had come a long way, babe. But what I sent down the catwalk that night was an ode to my beginnings in three different shades of love: a parade of black, red and white lingerie.

*Why not try it for yourself? Next time you are shopping one of my styles, say the Dame de Paris or the Space Odyssey, try on both a black bra, a white bra and a red bra of the same model, and see how completely different they will make you look and feel!

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