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Elle Macpherson has poured our tea, and now she is putting her spectacles on to demonstrate the new clasp she has designed for the very pretty front-fastening bra she is showing me in a Clerkenwell showroom. This, right here, is the difference between the new Elle Macpherson Body brand of lingerie and Elle Macpherson Intimates, with which she parted company two years ago. At 52, Macpherson is not just here to look good in knickers; she is the brains of the operation.
After 25 years of experience in lingerie, Macpherson now has “skin in the game”, as she puts it. Elle Macpherson Body is a 50-50 venture, into which she has put equal investment with Australian entrepreneur Simon de Winter. Everything about her vibe, as she talks me through her new range, seems intended to reposition her personal brand from the Peter Pan of dimpled surf chicks into a serious player in the fashion industry. The sleek leather midi skirt, chic sliders and perfect blow-dry have a Victoria-Beckham-backstage look to them; the glasses are the perfect finishing touch. “I am at a point in my life now where I am independent. I might not see any reward for years, but I have patience and I am willing to take risks where it’s well thought out,” she says.
She might have been frustrated by her limited role in the Intimates business, but she clearly picked up a lot about knickers. The new bras are designed both to look good, and to look good under clothes. This sounds obvious, but it’s not: most pretty lingerie ruins the line of a silk blouse or a cotton T-shirt, while most T-shirt bras are hideous. The colours of Elle Macpherson Body are unusual: pistachio, teal, ginger. “I looked at a lot of fashion for my colour palette – Gucci, Prada – and I found colours which work under clothes. I don’t want my bra to show under my white shirt, but I don’t want to wear a nude bra, so I have a beautiful greenstone colour that disappears under white.” The T-shirt bras have darts only on the bottom half of the cup, so that the part which touches the garment above gives a smooth line.
Each piece is designed to be seen from every angle. “When a woman undresses, she tends to turn around. So I wanted everything to look incredible from the back, so that you can turn around to change and your body looks gorgeous.” Bra straps are angled so that they start close together on the back strap and fan outward towards your shoulders, “which makes your waist look narrower and your shoulders broader and more athletic. With underwear, it’s all about thinking: if you don’t have a great body, how do you make a body look great?”
What is sexy now has changed since her supermodel heyday, Macpherson says. “I have two stepdaughters now who are 16 and 18, and I thought about them a lot when I was designing. They shop at Victoria’s Secret, and – I mean, there’s nothing wrong with Victoria’s Secret, but I wanted to create an alternative that appeals to who young women really are now. I wanted to make underwear that says you can be beautiful, strong, sexy, sporty and cool, and also be comfortable. The spectrum of beauty has got so much bigger than it was when I started out modelling – women don’t need to fit into anybody’s stereotype any more. We can dress to express ourselves and our personalities.” This applies to Macpherson herself, now that she is in control of the business for the first time. “I’m not locked into lace land any more, thank goodness. I can make bras that look great under T-shirts and white shirts. Bras that make you feel good, you know? That’s going to be my legacy.”
January 06, 2017 | The Guardian