Chloe Hamblen is the mastermind behind Lascivious, a luxury lingerie brand based in the UK that’s different from any other. Lascivious has been important to my discovery of my love for lingerie because the pieces are simultaneously sophisticated and adventurous, feminine and bold, and trendy and timeless. They are understood by both women and men and the select pieces can double as fashion forward outerwear. If you’re as intrigued as I am by Lascivious and the philosophy behind the brand, you’ll love hearing Chloe’s answers (we cover everything: inspiration, career milestones, favorite food and music…) and you’ll really be looking forward to her AW12 collection.
What or who inspired you to become a designer – and specifically a lingerie designer?
It was a few things really… I have always been creative but never saw myself becoming a part of the fashion industry. The turning point came during my foundation course at Kingston when I realised that the fashion module allowed an exploration of all disciplines under one umbrella – I could draw, create in 3D and photograph; I didn’t have to choose. I was also inspired when my mum told me about her friend that had studied the Contour Fashion course at DMU (which I then went on to study) and had run away to Paris to design knickers! I thought it sounded like the best job in the world and dedicated my time to designing lingerie from that point on.
Was there a moment you decided you wanted to start Lascivious? We’d love to hear how it came to be.
I probably knew right from the start really, as before I had even started my Contour Fashion degree I worked at Agent Provocateur to gain experience; it was a much smaller entity then and I guess made it feel tangible. Before I started my second year of Contour I decided that I could design and make a collection for a small store in Hammersmith, London- I hadn’t even learnt to make bras yet, but decided I could teach myself and it would be all good work towards my degree – needless to say it was a massive learning curve! I did a lot of inspiring work experience and jobs related to lingerie during my degree. After graduating I moved to Holland to work for the modernist lingerie designer Marlies Dekkers as a technical assistant, as I wanted to gain a little more experience before setting up Lascivious. After 7 months I moved back to the UK and started the brand.
Every entrepreneur eventually has to take a leap of faith to start her own brand and business. What were your thoughts, fears and hopes when you finally decided to make Lascivious a reality? Any advice for budding entrepreneurs?
I think it’s so important to gain as much experience as possible and be open to learning. The industry was quite different when I started the brand at the end of 2004 and I had a lot of naivety – I think it’s more that I’ve learnt a lot with hindsight. I started the brand very cautiously and it grew organically from there – in some ways I would have liked to have put more commercial solutions in place earlier and taken advantage of more schemes that help businesses in the early stages. My advice would be to do your research, understand the market, be prepared to sacrifice all of your time and money to build your business and have a strong identity.
Where do you think your bold design sensibility and fashion forwardness come from?
That’s a difficult question. I think I have just always felt that more could be done with lingerie creatively. I was always artistic, and my older brother got me into graffiti and was always inspiring as I was growing up and I guess I was influenced by strong female role models from music and films but fashion didn’t factor in my life until later.
I am a *big* fan of the Aiko Waistcoat! Where did the inspiration for that piece come from and will there be any more waistcoats in the future?
Aiko was really inspired by knotting techniques taken from Shibari (Japanese rope bondage). It was also influenced by our love of the Kasia waistcoat from the season before and the versatility it provides as an outerwear piece. The idea was to create something beautiful that would add strength to the more feminine raspberry collections for the season. There are always possibilities for more!
Lascivious has brought a sexy and sophisticated range to the United States, where there aren’t many lingerie ranges that have both attributes (thank you for this, by the way!). How did you strike this balance?
Thank you! I strongly believe that you can express sexiness without being sleazy. Sex should be enjoyed and women should be able to play and feel seductive in something provocative, without feeling cheap. I have never understood why lingerie seemed segregated into two specific categories; blk/white/nude everyday or cheap/sexy; luckily things have now changed and the market has opened up to that.
What is your favorite part of the design process and why?
I think it’s at the very initial stages when I am gathering ideas and again towards the end of the process when the collections are starting to come together. This is hugely satisfying, as the collection is basically complete and then you can really start thinking about styling and what you could add in or change. Often we’ll add some of the most creative pieces at the end. I love doing the photo shoots too – it’s the culmination of all the ideas that started out in my head being transformed into a final image.
Where do you see yourself and Lascivious in five years?
Hopefully we will have grown considerably and moved the business to the next level. I want our e-commerce site to be the best it can be and perhaps move to a studio based more centrally. These changes will allow me the freedom to creatively direct, with a solid team and management structure in place.
What music do you listen to while you work?
It is really varied! It can be anything from Squarepusher to Dolly Parton; I love all kinds of music. I probably listen most frequently to mix compilations from friends and old boyfriends. My friend Kat and I each make a Christmas annual each year with a mixture of things ourselves and our friends like, and I listen to those obsessively throughout the year. My favourite genres of music though are probably hip hop, reggae and drum and bass; NinjaTune probably has a good round up of a lot of the stuff I like.
Who are your style muses? How would you describe your “outerwear” style? Have any favorite brands?
I don’t have any specific style muses. It’s not so much about what someone wears as how what they’re wearing expresses their sensuality and their strength. My personal style is casual, subtle, modern but classic… I like to invest in good jeans and vests with a flattering cut, then accessorise with pieces like the Kasia Waistcoat or Fraulein Kink pieces. I like to keep things simple – it’s all about what’s underneath after all!
Which Lascivious pieces do you own and wear?
I love Belle, Kitty and Simone. Our upcoming Lola bra (AW12) fits beautifully and works really well under clothes, I also wear the luxury basics day bra and Milla to work a lot. I like to accessorise with the Kasia and Fraulein Kink pieces and if I’m feeling more flamboyant, I love the Josefine Basque.
What accomplishment are you most proud of (doesn’t have to be design related!)?
Lascivious have achieved CoolBrand status for 2012/13! It is something I have always desired for the brand and I’m so proud that we have now achieved it.
What is your favorite piece you’ve ever designed?
Kitty – I feel that it does everything I set out for it to do. The cut is flattering, it is feminine without being ‘girly’ and finally you are covered, yet the set is provocatively open. Men and women both seem to understand it, which is very gratifying from a design perspective.
When you’re not designing lingerie, what could we find you doing?
I love martial arts. I train in Kickboxing, Tai Chi Knife Form and Chi Gung.
Favorite food? Drink? Pets?
I have several favourite foods… Indian, Thai and Mexican, but I am most comfortable cooking Italian food. I don’t drink a great deal, but spiced rum with coke and lime is my favourite drink. I have fish and love animals, but I believe if you have a pet you have a responsibility to give it the best possible care, so unfortunately with that in mind my lifestyle only supports a fish tank!
And most importantly, what’s in store for next season?!
Autumn/Winter is inspired by elements of bondage – it’s dark and unashamedly sexy. Spring/Summer ‘13 which we have just shot, sees an explosion of colour- we’re really excited about exhibiting this range in the next two months!
Thanks you so very much for taking the time to answer my questions, Chloe! I’m really looking forward to AW12 and SS13!
Photos courtesy of Lascivious and Chloe Hamblen