Should Jessica make lingerie?

The article’s title was mysterious enough, and if you’d missed the tightly kerned font then the crisp picture of a black-laced bra on the opposing page was sure to get your attention. Sadly the two pages provided no more information for between my hands was Scarlett magazine and, this being its zero issue, in place of an article only placeholder text was to be read.

Part of the mystery was revealed a few pages later where, nestled amongst the credits of a photo shoot, Jessica Choay was credited as the designer of the accompanying kimono. Part of the mystery solved.

But that left a larger mystery: why is it a point of contention as to whether or not a designer named Jessica Choay makes lingerie?

Here’s why:

Click the thumbnails for full pictures
Jessica Choay A/W '12 campaign
Jessica Choay A/W '12 campaign
Jessica Choay A/W '12 campaign
Jessica Choay A/W '12 campaign
Jessica Choay A/W '12 campaign
Jessica Choay A/W '12 campaign
Jessica Choay A/W '12 campaign
Jessica Choay A/W '12 campaign
Jessica Choay A/W '12 campaign
Jessica Choay A/W '12 campaign
Jessica Choay A/W '12 campaign
Jessica Choay A/W '12 campaign
Jessica Choay A/W '12 campaign

If you had to summarise the case in just 6 words, you’d say this: Jessica Choay designs for the senses. If you were to extrapolate you could go as far as to say that Choay designs clothing with a sensual lean where the wearer’s senses are indulged.

That might seem like an odd point to make about a designer’s approach to designing clothing, so let me frame why it stands out within my own worldview. I encountered the work of Choay during Milan fashion week, her globe-trotting credentials having seen her come to the city by way of Paris via Switzerland. Fashion weeks are creatively immersive things to attend and while most people aim to get into as many of the big name shows as possible, my own desire is to encounter more emerging talent than I do existing talent. For me, any fashion week needs to be a balance of commercially minded catwalks and collections designed for passion’s sake. Commercial catwalks influence short term trends, emerging designers influence the long term ones. They are the future.

But no fashion designer can create pieces for everyone’s future, so who is it that Jessica Choay designs clothing for? The woman who buys clothes that don’t so much outwardly communicate as they do internally indulge. The philosophy Choay has published for her eponymous label gives you a sense of that;

Jazz notes hang in the air.
Your skin is kissed by a soft caress.
Your fingers fondle its delicate fabric.
Your nose sense its closeness.
Your eyes anticipate the union.
Your lips are moist with passion.

Now you two are one.
You and your dress.

What the philosophy doesn’t give you a sense of is each piece of clothing’s broader appeal. The fact that each garment is made from cloth carefully selected for its high quality and natural fibres (think silks, cottons and wools). That each piece is designed to be just as much about being at ease with what you wear as it is about balancing a desire to be both elegant and seductive. And wrapped into all of that is the desire to infuse femininity and sophistication.

When you take into consideration all of those values you can see why the question of lingerie comes up. After all, all great lingerie begins its life with elegance, seduction, femininity and sophistication in mind.

You’ll note that up until this point I’ve been careful to describe what Jessica Choay designs as clothing, not as fashion. Fashionable her pieces are, but the term fashion can encompass lingerie, clothing cannot. Despite the the fact that several of Choay’s designs readily lend themselves to the lingerie as outerwear look, the designer has only one piece of lingerie to her label’s name. That piece is the bra that features in Scarlett magazine and it’s a bespoke piece, a one off made solely to compliment the kimono it’s shown with in the magazine and it’s not for sale even to Choay’s bespoke clientele.

So that’s why the question of whether or not Jessica Choay should make lingerie has been asked, first by Scarlett magazine and now echoed by Fashionising.com here. Because when you look at it from afar, as I’m doing as I pen this on the train between Paris and London, Choay is already designing pieces that have all the attributes we desire of lingerie – she’s just cutting her designs as clothing and not as lingerie itself.

So should Jessica Choay make lingerie? I suspect it’s going to be requested more and more of her.

You can decide for youself by looking over the Jessica Choay autumn / winter 2012 / 2013 campaign by clicking on the thumbnails above and browing through the photos. You can also find out more at Facebook and get in touch with Choay via her label’s site.

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