An Exclusive Look At The Vintage Lingerie Collection Of Designer Layla L’obatti

Continuing my talk with Layla L’obatti, the designer behind Between The Sheets Lingerie, who, as it turns out, is a collector of vintage lingerie!

Layla, when did you begin collecting vintage lingerie? Why did you begin collecting vintage lingerie?

I have always lusted after vintage things. I grew up in Seattle and Pike Place market had some really great second hand stores and anything lace or with detail always caught my eye. As a student at FIT we were allowed to visit the FIT museum and view things like 18th century corsets; after leaving I missed being able to handle those pieces that inspired me so much and I guess that is where the collection began. I started buying in order to have my own resource of unique pieces to hold onto as a source of inspiration.

What does your collection mean to you?

There is a handiwork and beauty in vintage garments that we can no longer achieve with expectations of pricing; it’s now so low that making a quality product, much less a locally made product, at a palatable price is almost impossible.

I buy these pieces because they give me a sense of joy, and remind me that not all things need to be commercial to be beautiful.

When we were setting up this little conversation, you made an intriguing statement about how vintage lingerie does and does not inspire your designs — please elaborate on that!

Times change and so do our needs as far as clothing — and especially intimates — are concerned. For example, I might find vintage corsets utterly inspiring, but I can’t necessarily use them as an inspiration for the majority of a collection.

I find bralettes and tap pants before the invention of underwires and spiral stitched cups to be inspiring because there is an airy lightness and ease to them that is really beautiful…

This is a vintage bra from my collection which I loosely took inspiration from for our Come Out & Play lingerie collection.

I would like to try to take more design details from it and see if we can make something beautiful in a more modern, less pointy way.

This photo is of the leg of a pair of slip “knickers” in my collection. It has a really beautifully aged baby blue ribbon detail; this kind of detail I like to use for color and trim inspiration.

I also love vintage negligess and dressing gowns because back then all of them were silk bias, and I am able to find inspiration in that for modern interpretations.

There are also so many materials that did not exist back then that are amazing and luxurious, and so interpretations of vintage in modern design are often loosely connected.

You have two lingerie lines… Please tell us why they are separated — and where we can buy the exclusive range?

I knew that in order to make the “vintage inspired” pieces that I loved so much, I’d have to sell them at a very high price point.

And I also wanted to use the amazing modern and sustainable materials like modal that I loved when viewing fabric lines as a corporate designer, which we could never use in “vintage inspired.” I decided to create a small designer range as a capsule collection, and have been pleasantly surprised by its ability to hold on in this economic climate.

You can find that small vintage inspired collection on btslingerie.com, as well as Derriere De Soie in Charlottesville, VA (more styles coming shortly, and they have an online store) and soon a couple of pieces will be available at both Journelle locations in NY and hopefully on their site as well!

An updated list of stockists is on www.laylalobatti.com for the exclusive range.

Do you have a favorite period/decade of lingerie?

That is so tough and I don’t think I can pick just one!

I love 18th century corset! Before that the corsets were not “curvy”;I love the emphasis on the waist that the 18th century brought to corsetry.I also love the 40’s and 50’s in lingerie, the influence of Vionnet and Schiaparelli in that period, along with emergence of new RTW designers, make the pieces from that era to die for.

These photos are of one of my most precious finds: a vintage teddy with amazingly delicate lace applique.

It rivals some of the pieces I’ve seen in FIT’s archives and is that rare quality that you are surprised to find in such good condition.

It’s all bias and the diagonal of lace in the back is how they covered the seam!

This is as close an example of my fave “period” as I can afford; I’ve seen some gorgeous pieces at shows and in books but far too expensive for me at the moment.

These are images of LL for BTS — pieces that I feel have been inspired by this “concept” and even that vintage peach color.

The label close up shows the label stitched onto a french seam — if the inside of the garment is that clean imagine the outside. *wink*

One of my favorite fabrics is nylon — the original, vintage nylon. The weight, texture and even the temperature is exquisite. It also launders well. I have to ask why it’s not favored anymore… And do you have any plans to include it in any future pieces?

Good question!

This is one of the gorgeous nylon pieces from my collection that you’ll love *wink*

My boyfriend’s mother gifted it to me last holiday. Here it is layered with its bedjacket.

I have not used this for inspiration yet since I got it after I designed both collections, but I love the layered cups… This is some of the detailing that we can do today still.

To be honest I don’t quite know the reason why nylon has fallen out of favor…

Other than that fashion is all about the flavor of the moment and moves in cycles.

The things that are in demand right now are natural and sustainable fabrics like silk, cotton, and modal or bamboo. The other current innovations are seamless materials, raw edges, burnouts, and stretch embroidery. What is in demand means what is selling.

We are in a tough retail climate and I can’t tell you how many pieces get designed yet never get to see the light of day because they get dropped before the line goes into production.

There is always something amazing and new in fashion that could be the next big thing — all the more reason you should invest in those pieces you love before us designers move us onto the next “it thing”!

At your mentioning it, I will answer, “Yes, when we can expand our main BTS collection I am hoping to include nylon styles similar to the designer range.”

Nylon like the ones you describe would be a great substitute for silk, as well as allow us to make more vintage inspired styles at our main line’s pricepoint!

You heard it here first, folks! Keep an eye on Between The Sheets for future lingerie styles in nylon!  You may do so by signing up for emailed updates at the website as well as via Twitter and FaceBook — and, keep your eyes here too because I’ve got exclusive news from Between The Sheets to announce on Monday!

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