Pascale Renaux, Design and Image Director, Maison Lejaby – Photo: Kurt Stallaert.
You previously worked as design director for a major sportswear firm. What is your vision for lingerie?
I worked in the ready-to-wear and luxury sectors before sportswear and left them them because, although I admired their creative flair, there were many superfluous elements. In sportswear, everything serves a purpose. When you’re selling performance and efficiency, you focus on the basics. In my view, the same applies to lingerie . Ours are basically functional garments to which we add a stylish dimension to increase their appeal and value.
NUFIT, your new line of invisible lingerie, has a sportswear feel – does it bring something new to the market?
It’s a new approach to designing invisible lingerie: the name combines the concepts of ‘nudity’ and ‘fitness’. The intent was to revamp our ‘Nuage’ collection while retaining the key element of its success: support and comfort that’s invisible even under the closest body-hugging apparel. NUFIT seeks to add a new dimension – a kind of mental well-being that goes beyond physical comfort. It’s a cool concept that aligns the worlds of sport and elegance.
What are its main benefits?
First of all, the fabric is an extra-fine 50-gauge polyamide, developed by the Belgian weaving mill Liebaert. This knit is springy, thanks to a 26% LYCRA® fibre content, so smooth you can’t see the stitching, and it’s super soft. It really moves with your body in the most natural way and fully merits its LYCRA® BEAUTY brand certification. Sleek, smart, sport-inspired styling with its triple-band elastic braiding does the rest
How has NUFIT been received?
Feedback from our three own-brand outlets and online shop suggests an instant hit with consumers. The response has been so favourable that we’ve created a special limited edition called ‘Galaxie’ for Winter 2018/19 – a hyper-hip version enhanced with micro gold particles. ‘NUFIT Plus’ is another follow-up to meet demand from more generously-endowed consumers for G and H cups, larger than the regular range. We’ve altered the product construction to enable this but use the same high-performance cosmetic fabric.
Is fabric quality a critical factor in all Maison Lejaby collections?
For sure – it always has been! The Lejaby brand has close historical links with LYCRA® fibre. When it was introduced in the Sixties, the then CEO Maurice Bugnon immediately recognized its value-adding potential to make lingerie more comfortable. To this day, we rely on fabrics that deliver something extra in terms of lasting fit and comfort, so LYCRA® fibre still features prominently in our collections.
Do you have plans to introduce new fabrics?
We will launch a complete beachwear line for Summer 2018. Until now, we’ve produced a few swimsuits each year, but this time we’ll have a dozen lines available in several shapes, and an accompanying beachwear range. This new range has been developed using a polyamide knit by Brugnoli (l’Emana) containing bioactive minerals that can stimulate the metabolism, improve micro-circulation, and reduce muscle fatigue. And its 41% LYCRA® XTRA LIFE™ fiber content ensures soft, lasting support that will withstanding chlorine, UV rays, sunscreen creams and oils.
What comes next? After lingerie with an athletic feel, could it be sports underwear?
No. I don’t want to compromise Maison Lejaby’s distinctive lingerie style by entering other categories. Sports underwear is a completely different concept that uses specific fabrics with emphasis on technical performance and varies according to the type of activity – running, yoga, fitness, boxing, and so on. If we did want to move into sports underwear, it would make more sense to do so with Rasurel, a brand that’s on the back burner for now, but has a more technical DNA.
How would you describe a typical Maison Lejaby customer?
Our brand message – ‘the most beautiful form of sex appeal is being you’ – reflects a long-held view of women as singular beings, regardless of age and size. They are more than bodies; they are individual personalities. Hence, advertising campaigns that are, in effect, portrait galleries of women. We aim to provide lingerie that reflects the lifestyles of modern women; lingerie that breaks with tradition; lingerie that meets individual wishes and needs. The bold classics in our collection combine natural elegance and feminine appeal.
Can you give us a sneak preview of Maison Lejaby inspirations for Winter 2019/20?
It’s a special collection, more evocative of a state of mind than fashion trends. When we started to work on it in early 2017, we were tempted to rebel against the many turbulent socio-political events shaping the environment. We planned lines with a punk feel, with studs and fringing as counterpoints. As the world around us got better, we changed tack. The planned ‘rebelle’ collection morphed into ‘re-belle’ – French for ‘beautiful once again’. The result is a feminine, sensual and modern style. Only one line – ‘Check and Roses’ which features tweedy check embroidery and studded straps lined with fringing – reflects the spirit of protest that initially fired our creative team.