Meg at Midnight holds a special place in my small-busted heart. This beautiful line of lingerie designed by the talented (and hilarious, as you’ll see in her answers!) Megan Leung is meant to make small chested women feel desirable in their own skin. Delicate lace takes the place of push-ups and padding, leaving only well cut lingerie that fits and flatters. Her collection, called “Else,” is inspired by the decadence of the 1920s and is just as dark as it is feminine and alluring. Read on to find out what makes Megan tick (Beach Boys, anyone?) and what’s in store for next season!
What or who inspired you to become a designer, and specifically a lingerie designer?
Believe it or not, Fashion TV! It seems silly now, but ten years ago when I watched models walk up and down the catwalk wearing divine clothes I’d get this crushing feeling knowing I’ll never be on the catwalk as a model. At some point though, I figured that my work can make it to the catwalk so I went to London to study fashion design. Now that I’m older and (hopefully) wiser, I no longer see fashion merely as a thing of glamour. It’s a crazy industry and as a whole, it really is just an outlet for self-expression.
Why lingerie? For me it was either that or menswear. I really wanted to design for Dior Homme but in the end I chose lingerie because the female body is so much more fun to dress.
You design specifically for smaller busted women — an underserved niche in the lingerie industry (thank you for that!). How and why did you decide you wanted to design specifically for smaller busted women?
I have a friend who is flat-chested and she said at one time that although she enjoyed looking at lingerie, she didn’t feel like she’d look good in it. I wanted to prove her wrong. Also, the few brands out there who cater for smaller busted women have limited designs, most of which look like training bras. My idea for Meg at Midnight is to make a grown up woman with a modest chest feel desirable, without her having to wear padded bras or bras with fillers. I want to encourage women to embrace — rather than enhance — their figures.
Where does the inspiration for “Else” come from (even the name!) and what is the inspiration behind it?
My first collection was loungewear. It didn’t work out so I decided to do something “else” — underwear. Simple as that. I was inspired by the drama of the 1920s. There’s something poetic about that brief period, don’t you think?
Your lingerie is designed, produced and finished in the UK. How or why did you admirably decide to produce locally?
Yes, we produce in the UK. We are still a very young company and we want to keep the brand exclusive. Mass production may not be right for us but we’re not discounting possibilities. Producing in the UK allows me to oversee the process and it also helps British manufacturing which is now picking up.
Was there a moment you decided you wanted to start Meg at Midnight? We love these stories!
I don’t recall having an “Aha!” moment. It was more of a process. I spent all my savings to get an education in fashion design in London and the only logical next step was to practice what I’ve learned. I graduated at Istituto Marangoni, an Italian design school, which meant I was competing against the graduates of De Montfort University, London College of Fashion and Central Saint Martins to get a good work experience. I didn’t want to waste time waiting to get called for unpaid work so I had to learn the ropes of the business and the industry as much as I could, as quickly as I could. I met some amazing people along the way who became my mentors and my friends.
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 your business idea a reality?
I don’t know that I had fears, but I had concerns. Back then I was concerned that no one would take me seriously as I wasn’t attuned to the way the British communicate. I came from Asia with an American education. Some people glow in social situations and I’m not one of those people so I had to force myself to integrate if I were to get anywhere. It was tough at first because I had no family or friends in England. When I started to write letters in British English and eased into their manner of speaking, I got better responses. I eventually felt like I belonged and my confidence grew. Running a business requires an enormous amount of confidence and sometimes, confidence is a fox in a hole.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
To finish what you have started. It sounds pretty simple but it holds a lot of weight. It’s easy to jump from one project to another when things don’t go according to plan. You must not lose focus and believe that there is always a way to champion challenges.
What is your favorite part of the design process and why?
I like coming up with a central idea — a collection for example, because it’s a fun challenge to design the pieces in a way that they are conversant with each other. A collection must also be in keeping with the brand, and I like all that: the discipline, following my own brief, not letting my creativity get ahead of me. I also find joy in sourcing materials.
Where do you see yourself and Meg at Midnight in five years?
Ideally, Meg at Midnight will have had its own boutiques and its own production team. Realistically though, that might take longer. My vision is that in five years, the company would have expanded its wholesale reach and have its own-brand merchandising in place.
Any favorite music to listen to while you design?
I prefer silence if the work needs a huge percentage of my brain. Otherwise, easy listening that won’t disrupt my trail of thoughts — happy jazzy cheesy music like The Ooh-Wee Song (Johnny Blu) and You’re the Top (Anita O’Day), bossa nova, or some upbeat world music. If the weather is gloomy I play fresh tunes from The Beach Boys and Vampire Weekend to lift my moods. I also like songs with a story. I’m forever in-love with Peter Starstedt’s “Where do you go to my lovely?” Wouldn’t it have been nice to be the woman this song was written for? When I’m not working it’s Stereophonics and Matchbox20.
Who are your style muses? How would you describe your “outerwear” style? Have any favorite brands?
Tilda Swinton’s character, Emma, in the Italian film “I am Love.” She has this chic-meets-sexy-meets-romantic style which I adore. In terms of how I dress, I tend to go for crisp and clean silhouettes with block colours or sophisticated prints. Fabrics matter to me. Favourite brands, none in particular. Favourite designers, Haider Ackermann for silhouettes and Matthew Williamson for prints.
Which Meg at Midnight pieces do you own and wear?
I have the Opal corselette bra which is really comfortable.
What are your all-time favorite Meg at Midnight designs?
I like the Frances and Bonnie sets.
When you’re not designing lingerie, what can we find you doing?
Recreational swimming and diving. I’m an amateur diver but I’d like to be a pro so I can go wreck diving. Have you seen those free divers who go under the sea without scuba gear? They’re amazing, I’d like to be able to do that! I’m also very much a geek — I play chess, read biographies and industry magazines, see what other geeks are up to.
Favorite food? Drink? Any pets?
I’m adventurous with food as long as it’s not greasy and I am not made aware of how it got on my plate, i.e. those restaurants where you have to pick a fish from an aquarium. One minute there they are, miserable but alive; the next minute the poor things are staring at you with their dead glazed eyes. My appetite dies with them. Sorry, am I being morbid?
Drinkswise, a cocktail made of Grey Goose la poire, raspberry, pear juice, lemon and egg white. It’s divine (in my opinion anyway), try it.
Pets — I have a Maltese called Izzy. She’s the sweetest!
And most importantly, what’s in store for next season?
The next collection will have a romantic take on ancient Egypt.
Thank you so much for your excellent answers, Megan! I can’t wait to see next season’s Egyptian pieces!
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