Could you introduce yourself, and talk us through how you ended up in the lingerie business?
I went to school for clothing design in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I was freelancing for Target Corporation my senior year, and when I graduated, the only available design position was in the lingerie department. I had always imagined Iâ€™d end up in ready to wear, but as soon as I started in lingerie I knew I was hooked! I stayed with them for a few years, then moved to New York and continued within the lingerie industry. Itâ€™s more of a niche market that you can really explore vs. the saturation of the ready to wear industry. (Nikki)
I went to school for fine arts. I imagined continuing with this career after school, and actually did a fellowship in Italy soon after graduating. When I got home, I was presented with the opportunity to work on a start-up with 2 businesswomen with the idea of introducing a lingerie line that would bridge the gap between fashion and basics. At the time, this was a huge need in the market. We parted ways after about 3 years and I went on to consult for other boutique brands as a designer and sourcing manager. This gave me the inspiration to start our new line, with the desire to create something that would fit the needs of the new generation of customers â€“ women who are looking for something with personality, but while retaining comfort and quality. (Maayan)
After working for other labels, what was it like to venture out on your own?
Terrifying and very freeing! Itâ€™s really stressful knowing that you are the only one responsible for every little detail, from sourcing to production, and especially the financial aspect of it all. But knowing you really can have any color, detail, cut, or fabric you can dream up is so exciting and makes it all worthwhile! (Nikki)
It is stressful, but neither of us could envision it any differently. Itâ€™s definitely freeing do decide on all aspects of design on our own, but we also enjoy the challenge of satisfying our customers with details they look for in lingerie. Itâ€™s rewarding to hear when women count us as their favorite new brand, or that they wear our items to feel good about their bodies. This encourages us and gives us inspiration. (Maayan)
I love the name â€œThe Lake and Stars.â€ What is the history of and how did you decide on the name?
We came across the name while looking through an old book about lost nicknames mainly having to do with sexuality, etc. We immediately knew that was the one. It was so obscure. No one had heard of it, and when you first hear it, it sounds really lovely and ethereal. But the meaning behind it (â€œthe works in bedâ€, or â€œgreat in bed,â€ as in, â€œShe gave me the lake and stars.â€) is actually quite dirty. Perfect for lingerie! (Nikki)
Yes, we love the duality. Itâ€™s much like our personalities and contrast in sensibilities, definitely different on the surface. But as you get to know us, we reveal a diverse mix of qualities (much like our namesake!). (Maayan)
What are your inspirations and how did you translate them into your lingerie?
The great thing about design, in any aspect, is that you can draw inspiration from anything. We take a lot away from nature, actually, and translate it through different motifs on the garments (kissing ostriches embroidery, flying fish charms, a tulip petal shaped garter) in modern ways. We also find inspiration in quirky vintage pieces and either use them literally (vintage Czech crystal detailing) or indirectly (through color or custom closures). Some of our pieces are even designed with women we know in mind. The garments take on their own character in this way. (Nikki)
A lot of people are in the habit of asking designers about specific inspirations, be it through cultures, people, or periods. We arenâ€™t so much about being driven by these things. References work their way into our collections, but more in nods. Our inspirations lie more in our customers, as a reversal of this notion of â€œmuse.â€ Itâ€™s more about an ideal attitude. That with our garments a woman can express her individuality, sense of humor, quirky sexuality. This is what we consider to be a more modern approach to femininity and/or feminism. (Maayan)
Do you tend to work individually or more collaboratively?
When we started the design process for this last line, we decided to go off on our own for a couple of weeks, gathering inspiration and doing a lot of sketching. When we got together, we laid it all out and it was amazing to see the similarities! It was really easy to pick details off of one sketch and place it on another garment, or pull silhouettes from different groups together to make a new group. We end up working in both ways. (Nikki)
Whatâ€™s nice about our distinct process is that we can layer in the dualities of our personalities. Weâ€™ve heard from some of our customers that in wearing our designs, they are comfortable with both their feminine and masculine sides, letting go of any notions of old-fashioned sexuality. One can feel comfortable in both something retro and sensual, while being comfortable and sporty. (Maayan)
Speaking of masculinity, how did the concept of using the trench coat develop?
We talked about incorporating a coat in a show awhile ago, and thought it might be nice to use a menâ€™s trench â€“ like sheâ€™s wearing her boyfriendâ€™s coat to tease him. As we worked through this idea, we decided to just make our own that had a really streamline silhouette and a sharp fit, as nothing we picked up looked quite right with our line. It was originally just going to be for photos or a show, but we got such an overwhelming response from people wanting one, that we decided to actually include them in the line and produce them! (Nikki)
What are your favorite fabrics to work with?
We both really love a variety of textures versus a specific fiber content. We love fine gauge sweater knits, sheer fabrics, and really want to get into using stretch wovens for something new. Anything lightweight that feels great to touch, we can find a place for, it seems! (Nikki)
What are your favorite pieces in the new collection?
My favorite pieces are the Modesty garterbrief and the Tootsie bra. The garterbrief not only has an unusual cut and fabrication mix (high waisted cotton mesh with a built in garter made of metallic lace), but also because itâ€™s also really flattering on any body type. The Tootsie bra also has an unusual fabric mix (again, cotton mesh, but layered with a glossy textured rib) and even though itâ€™s a soft cup, through seaming and multiple pieces, itâ€™s incredibly shaping and supportive. (Nikki)
My favorites are the ones that have pops of color, like the Divorcee swim-inspired pieces with a splash or turquoise or cherry red. Itâ€™s the way I like to dress. Neutral colors with pops of color. Itâ€™s a fresh way of interpreting a formalist palette. A way to bring attention to a landscape or a portrait through a dash of color on a flower or a flushed cheek. (Maayan)
With wedding season looming, what do you recommend for the bride-to-be?
Iâ€™d definitely recommend the Tootsie bra/garter/bikini combo as a beautiful and sexy gift set for a bride-to-be. (Nikki)
For the bride-to-be, Iâ€™d suggest the Lovebirds group, the sportiest of our collection. I think itâ€™s nice to switch up a predictable fabric for your wedding night. So many men have told us that they prefer women in cottons and simple designs (less intimidating!). This group features a cotton modal (soft against your partnerâ€™s skin!) and has little lovebirds embroidered at the hip. A perfect message to send to your new husband has he pays attention to every inch of your bodyâ€¦ (Maayan)
There are dozens of lingerie brands that are trying to stand out. Why do you believe The Lake and Stars is able to do just that?
We both felt there was a lack of fashionable lingerie that is also comfortable and functional. There are so many new designers standing out in ready to wear right now, and there really isnâ€™t a lingerie counterpart. We created this line with the notion that your lingerie is an extension of what you wear on the outside, to the extent that you can wear it in layers and view parts of it without feeling like youâ€™re wearing a costume or that youâ€™re wearing it for someone other than you. (Nikki)
How are you marketing your collection and how can our readers get their hands on these exquisite pieces?
Weâ€™re delivering the line in terms of groups (Modesty, Lovebirds, Tootsie, etc.) so that every month or so a new group will be available. Weâ€™re just now delivering the first group, Modesty, and continuing to show the line to select stores we feel will understand and want to share the line with their clientele. We are constantly adding U.S. stores with the spring/summer collection being carried in additional stores come May. In New York, we will be at our favorite shop, Catriona Mackechnie. We also have distribution developing in Canada.
Unfortunately, the only way our European customers can currently purchase something off the line is via e-commerce (a couple of our stores have pieces available online). But we definitely have plans to move into Europe in the not so distant future!
Are there any upcoming events of interest?
Thereâ€™s talk of doing a trunk show, but the detail havenâ€™t been confirmed. We will definitely post any events on our website. (Nikki)
Iâ€™m from Vancouver, Canada, and in a few weeks Iâ€™ll be hosting a trunk show where women can come and share in the fun of discovering the collection in person. Weâ€™ll be offering a selection of spring/summer styles. We look forward to events around the U.S. too. Anyone in Vancouver that wants details can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org (Maayan)
Where do you see yourselves and The Lake and Stars brand in 5 years?
One goal we have is that in 5 years weâ€™ll have developed the line by layering in basics and foundations using the same fashion conscious theories we have now, so that the collection will be very well rounded. Itâ€™ll be a line that women can turn to for any piece they want to add to their lingerie wardrobe, be it a special occasion purchase or an underwire bra theyâ€™ll wear everyday.