IT'S THE TIME of the year for retail to thrive, so it makes perfect sense that the month ahead is teeming with events, parties, and sales (see mod.portlandmercury.com for our constant updates to the schedule). But this year, folks seem to be craving something more interesting than mere opportunities to browse, and the season has seen an unusual number of more formal fashion show presentations. What's more, while most people are focused on layering on various weights of wool, we're also experiencing a rash of crowd-pleasing, skin-baring lingerie shows: Check back next week for the scoop on the Lille Boutique showcase, Astral Bodies. Remember when getting socks and underwear as holiday presents was joked about as tantamount to receiving coal? Those days are far behind us now.
This week's event comes from Oh Baby, in collaboration with Eyes + Edge, the newish event-based online lifestyle publication that has been ingratiating itself to the local world of fashion and retail through frequent collaborative events. Specifically designed to showcase Oh Baby's recently acquired lingerie collections from three contemporary British lines, the show takes the name "Our British Invasion." Dirty Pretty Things is a new line that came out of the gates by nabbing the 2012 award for "New Designer of the Year" at the UK Lingerie Awards (that's a thing); Lascivious has been around since 2004 and is still actually produced in the UK; and Kriss Soonik, legend has it, is responsible for coining the term "loungerie." (I don't buy it, personally, but her designs are gorgeous.)
Oh Baby Event Manager Chelsea Araydin—who, along with owner Laura Fitzpatrick and buyer Anna Jones, form the Oh Baby triumvirate—took a moment to talk about the upcoming show and just what it is about the British and their knickers.
MERCURY: Where did the idea for the show come from?
CHELSEA ARAYDIN: I reached out to Delia [Tethong] and Holly [Hoover] from Eyes + Edge a few weeks ago about the possibility of collaborating on an event together. Holly had shopped with us before and once I saw the website launch and what their brand was doing it looked like a good fit. I like the fact that Eyes + Edge is catering to men and women, and it's more of a "lifestyle" [publication] about what do in Portland rather than [focusing] on one thing. We wanted to have a major launch for the British lines arriving while kicking off the holiday season, and Eyes + Edge has connections to throw a bigger bash than we could in the store.
Are all the lines being featured new to the Oh Baby repertoire?
All the lines are new to the shop (the Pacific Northwest, even) and Dirty Pretty Things is just beginning to arrive in the United States at all. We wanted to celebrate having these designers in the store. All three lines are award winning, and [at] the cutting edge of current lingerie fashion, and we are proud to be among a select group of stores to carry any of them. We wanted to have a party to show our customers that we bring in new and exciting lines all the time, and introduce Oh Baby to a new group of people that don't know who we are and what we do.
What distinguishes lingerie design as being British?
In general, Britain has more fun with their lingerie. When people think of "classic" lingerie it's about a lace bra and panty set or a teddy. I think that sometimes people forget that lingerie can be different and fashionable. In the past few years Britain has been experimenting with lingerie, wearing it as outerwear or for dressing up. Designers coming out of Britain are changing [which] materials they use and how it's meant to be worn.