Earlier this month I was invited into the charming London boutique of lingerie designer Fifi Chachnil. This, her only boutique outside of France (the flagship store in Paris is a must visit for me next year) is a delightfully feminine space showcasing Fifi’s lingerie, fragrance and pret-a-porter collections which I am excited to announce are now also available for you to browse and purchase online via their newly launched e-shop:
I first became aware of Fifi Chachnil after a visit to Faire Frou Frou lingerie boutique in LA when I left with a pair of her wonderfully retro modern high-waisted satin and tulle briefs (image below left, photo by Pierre Dal Corso). I’ve kept my eye on Fifi ever since – she embodies her namesake brand perfectly being all woman and full of character. Not just lingerie designer but costumier and singer too, Fifi intends her underwear to be something to put us all in a good mood and boy does she succeed!
Her styles are sumptuously feminine and playful with a peppering of fantasy… Fifi uses dancers from Le Crazy Horse in Paris to model her collections – a perfect match of the element of fantasy and the allure of the female body.
What is perhaps not so obvious within the Chachnil brand is the presence of Fifi’s pret a porter line. Rompers, bodysuits, cardigans, skirts and dresses are made with the finest fabrics (angora, satin, tulle…) and enhance your curves to make you feel like a Hollywood starlet. My favourite piece from the ready to wear collection is Fifi’s Francette Noir – a skirt with a glamorous waspie structure to it.
I was delighted to interview Fifi for this feature about her designs and new e-commerce site. Read Fifi’s thoughts on France’s relationship with lingerie and her friendship with the dancers at Le Crazy Horse, below:
Fifi, your designs seem to perfectly sum up the Parisian female. Tell us more about the woman you have in mind when designing your lingerie…
I love the way non-Parisian’s and tourists define the Parisian woman, so this is the woman I have in mind. She is like the Parisian girls you see in the movies such as ‘La Mome Pigalle’ and as Mae West in ‘Everyday’s A Holiday’.
Your prêt-a-porter line is made from the finest materials. How do you source the fabrics for this collection?
I like to source specialist fabrics all over Europe in regions renown for their textiles. For example Lace from Calais and silk from Lyon in France, cotton in Switzerland and jersey in Italy. However, my favourite and many of my materials come from the French producers I work with to design exclusive fabrics and colours for my collections.
What inspired you to develop your signature fragrance?
I wanted to create an essence of pure femininity, with all the contradictions involved and looked to a classic and oriental style. ‘Fifi‘ begins with bright and sparkling citrus tones, it moves on to deep emotional notes of amber and tobacco (almost masculine) and finishes with a soft and powdery calm.
I own your high-waisted ruffle brief , my favorite piece of Fifi Chachnil lingerie that makes me want to dance around every time I wear it. Speaking of dancing, how did you become involved with Crazy Horse Paris, and come to use the dancers as models for your designs?
I am very happy to hear this as it is how the ‘Sortie en Culotte’ should be worn, its name means ‘go out in your culotte’. My love of Le Crazy Horse is prominent and begins with the admiration I have for Mr. Bernardin who created a respect for nudity by opening a nude cabaret in a very nice district of Paris and producing a revolutionary show of dressing the naked dancers with stage lighting. I was very honored to be asked to design costumes for the Crazy Horse and this is when the wonderful friendships with the dancers began. Our friendship will be forever and I love the dancers because they are real, they work very hard to achieve their perfect figures, but they never show anything to be hard, they only show when it is beautiful.
What if anything do you think makes the lingerie market in Europe (or specifically, Paris) distinct from other markets worldwide?
I think we are distinct because lingerie is part of our culture – seen often in our movies, cabaret and theatre. Also because French woman love to show when they are wearing beautiful lingerie. In comparison the Japanese culture will generally cover and hide their undergarments.
Fifi, what is your dream….
I create garments within the luxury market, which to me means taking the time to create. My dream would be for the fashion calendar to allow the time for designing and showing swimwear collections when the sun is shining and for winter collections to be created during rainy days by the fire, rather than the opposite.
When are you the happiest?
I’ve felt happiness when I have taken a little risk or potential danger which has gone on to achieve a successful result, more than I possibly imagined.
Finally, tell us a secret….
Thank you, Fifi. For more information and to view / buy Fifi Chachnil’s lingerie, fragrance and ready to wear collection click here.