Under soft light and in concentrated silence, seamstresses at a workshop in the heart of Paris carefully assembled fine Calais lace, embroidering it with onyx beads and sequins in delicate motifs.
A couture bra takes two days to create, a bustier three. Corsets, meanwhile, require “real expertise, it’s very French,” according to Amandine and Vanille at the headquarters of luxury lingerie brand Livy.
A piece is made in 20 steps, sometimes with 15 materials. The process takes patience and precision.
The limited collection, made entirely by hand, is created exclusively for weddings or red-carpet events, according to 39-year-old designer Lisa Chavy.
The rest of the line is ready-to-wear and designed to appeal both to clients who want something racy but discreet, and for those looking beyond function for lingerie that is a bit showier and a fashion accessory in its own right: a subtle sexy strap, or bit of lace to peek out from underneath clothing.
Chavy, who has been a designer for mainstream labels, created the brand three years ago hoping to offer something more modern and fresher, in a country where lingerie has been world-famous for 200 years.
“I couldn’t find any lingerie that I really wanted to wear,” she said. Forgoing cushioned bras and shape-altering pieces for a more natural look, Livy’s designs focus on delicate, intricate patterns in lace for an elegant feel.
During a recent fitting before a photo shoot, Chavy carefully fastened an ornate gold clasp on a bra worn by one of the models.
Hidden clasps and other visual illusions, such as lacework resting on transparent tulle, are part of the playful seduction that is Livy’s signature.