The Old School Lingerie Emporium

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

It all started yesterday morning when I went to the weekly open air market in St. Marco to pick up some wool underwear. Since I'll be attending New York Fashion Week next month, I am completing a check-list of the things that I will need. Warm undergarments top the list because being cold is a situation that I can not bear. It probably has to do with the fact that I was born on the sandy beaches of Jamaica. Well, thermals as we know them back in the States aren't popular here in Italy. Instead Italians wear t-shirts, leggings, and tights made of wool. And the fact that these undergarments are a type of knit renders them slightly more elegant than our waffled versions. You know those Italians can't let an opportunity for elegance pass them by. Non ci pensare neanche! Hand movement please. Don't even think about it!

After spending 30 minutes digesting style and size options (I hate returning things), my eyes started to peruse the bloomers, corsets, bodysuits, and full coverage bras neighboring the wool thermals. And Ping! A light flashed in my head. These bras and panties are perfect for experimenting with Spring 2010's lingerie inspired looks and transparent pieces! Think Dolce Gabbana bodysuits or transparent looks like this one below.

Fast forward to the afternoon. Continuing my task of preparing for New York's lovely cold weather, I popped into "solo calze e ..." in Brera to pick up my favorite brand of tights. "Good evening, may I have two pairs of the Girardi 100 den in black, and one pair in grey?" As I waited for the shopkeeper to fish my goodies out of their drawers, I thought about the first time I entered the doors of this old school lingerie emporium. It was with my fairy of a friend Celeste. Fairy because she is slight, has the most angelic face, wears ethereal dresses year round, and has an extremely youthful spirit. A kind of female Peter Pan. Funny enough, it was on that very trip that I discovered my beloved hosiery.

I remember thinking that day that the store had a real warm and old world feel to it. Merchandising is basic with bras, panties, and other little intimate things displayed in the window or stored away in boxes or in drawers. But even without the fancy packaging that I adore, everything feels so precious. Like maybe the way it felt when our grandmothers and mothers frequented these stores to purchase their delicate "unmentionables."

At some point I exited my nostalgia to recognize a pair of the bloomers I had seen at the market that morning. It then dawned on me that the stand at the market offered the same merchandise found in this store. Fantastic, I thought. I love markets and everything, but it's also nice to have a store where the selection is more expansive and which is open all week. Love it! I had figured out how I would navigate Spring 2010's skin trend and it was only January 4th.

I know, I know. I can probably find these pieces at Yamamay, the Italian version of Victoria's Secret. And if I were thoughtful enough, I could have scored some gorgeous undies from the Sonia Rykiel for H&M collection. Or why not something more luxurious at Agent Provocateur or Kiki de Montparnasse? But the truth of the matter is that I have developed a strong attraction to the tradition behind these garments. When I see older Italian women enter a store like "solo calze" and ask for a specific model that they have been wearing for the last 15-20 years, I am sucked into the tradition. These undergarments were designed for the rigours of a life more elegant and formal than ours. Surely they can help me pull off even the most revealing of Spring 2010's offerings.

Besos, Tamu


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