by Antonio Lilliu

Sex-à-porter: the SEDUCTION-CODE in the lingerie.

the SEDUCTION CODE in the Lingerie.

It was Lyon who hosted this year from 9 to 11 July over 400 exhibitors’ brands at the salon de la Lingerie MODE CITY and INTERFILIERE. The decision to move the summer edition of the fair to the historic capital of the French textile industry was motivated by the intention to avoid any inconvenience due to the European Football Championship in Paris.

Trade Fairs are for professionals like Christmas’ holidays for kids: they mark time with a milestone from which we start to measure chronological spaces of different nature depending on whether we move forward or backward. What is normal for us today is a logical notion of time, resulting from of the Greek-Roman culture since Aristotle. In other regions of our planet, like the Indian world or the Far East, it has prevailed a time culture symbolized by the circle, the figure with no beginning and no end, and by the wheel, the mantra of the eternal return.

When I visit fashion exhibitions is precisely the time the first thing that comes to my mind: in a pragmatic way, as for example in term of lost time... if everything I see arises a deja-vu feeling; in term of logic of exhibitions-calendars and locations (the organizer of Mode City reported disappointing results about frequency of visitors and sales volumes as if moving from Paris to Lyon could do otherwise hope); finally while reviewing products I wonder about their relevance and capacity to reflect a changing society at an ever increasing pace.

"Express and Indulge" are two Lingerie Trends presented in Lyon as new hits for summer 2017 .... speaking of novelty in this case is still a journalistic gimmick, since "seduction" is a steel myth in the world of lingerie. Of course, fairs as trend-scouts cannot do much more than promote what goes on the market.

In fact, the relationship of many lingerie brands with current time seems to be a neurotic-schizophrenic liaison, leading them to miss the appointment with the Zeitgeist while renaming as "Icon Lingerie" the products of the own identity crisis. The real problem of many trade-marks is not that crisis as such, but the attempt to repress this awareness, while paying an obsessive attention to all technical features of the product on expenses of Marketing. This obsession translates, on one side, in a monomaniac aesthetic that declines the same product until boredom; on other, in providing a USP which, interpolating the brand name, applies to everything and everyone. The same benefits that should express uniqueness finally decree anonymity: exceptional Fitting, attention to detail, exclusive materials, exaltation of femininity, unique comfort, products designed for women, ... are just few concepts used by every company to self-portraying. At the end it sounds as if customers were pupils to be taught during a product conference. Such an attitude is no Marketing, at most, is Retail and Commercial Training in B2B. Creative marketing professionals are able of synthesizing the Reason Why of a brand in a short and meaningful slogan realizing that proverbial truth exemplified by Helena Rubinstein, who said once: "when a woman buys my lipstick, what she’s really buying is the dream to become herself. "

There is no denying that the etymology of the word seduction incorporates a negative value: the Latin root seducere highlights "to lead off the right track"; the German word, verführen translates as " mislead ", and like all Germanic words with prefix “ver-“ incorporates a negative sense (ver-sagen, to fail; ver-irren, to be wrong; ver-Urteilen, to condemn, etc,). Deliberately inducing a person to submit to own sexual or sentimental intentions is the meaning of seduction encoded in psychology, sociology and law.

Translated into lingerie language seduction reveals the attempt to maximize female sex appeal through the skillful use of transparencies, lace, guepierre, busts, balconette, Push-up’s, thongs, suspenders, stockings ... which constitute a formidable arsenal available to women as if they were to fight a nuclear war not against one man in particular, but the atavistic war against THE MAN, the masculine principle from Adam to Stalin.

Reviewing the proposals of many brands for the new season, you should conclude that this modern woman reveals when purchasing underwear, a taste somewhere between Madame Pompadour and Mae West. If science is not an opinion nowadays women, a part of their own experiences, have a genetic code storing ancestors’ experiences and, in the first place, their mother’s ones: these mothers have probably experienced the era of sexual liberation, offending old generations while reading Deep Throat and Anaïs Nin novels, must have shouted hysterically to Rolling Stones music, brought dizzying skirts, burned bra on the street before joining to sit-ins against the establishment and travelling to Ibiza to dance on the beach under the moon-light.

Only a trauma could explain the fact that her daughter would behave like her great-grandmother manipulating men: only a narcissistic wound could explain such a regressive behavior.

Indifference can make narcissistic wounds burning even more painful: as women have evolved, so did men. What would a man think in front of a woman theatrically swaying at home inside transparent slips, wearing suspenders before going to sleep, shortening the push-up’s straps as to prepare for a peep-show ... Could he be seduced? As watching a Burlesque of the 50s! Will he lose his mind or be amused? If he has sense of humor he’ll be amused, and certainly, if he’ll be laughing he won’t lose his head. Lough distances us emotionally from experience, and without prey no seductive magic. Seduction is, by the way, a serious matter!

Seduction is a game with no open cards, because it uses a trick to achieve its goal. It is a dangerous game as it is obliged to take the risk of severe humiliation if discovered. It is, above all, a game rarely crowned by a happy ending: the seduction of Eve caused the loss of Paradise grace; the seduction of Paris (there is still no certainty about who seduced whom, Helen or Paris?) caused the tragic destruction of Troy; Edward VII had to give up the throne for loving Willy Simpson; the bible of seduction of French literature "Dangerous Friendships" by Choderlos de Laclos has a final nothing short of tragic. Ultimately the seduction has nothing to do with love, which is based on intimacy, and represents the opposite pole of charm. Seduction is now an obsolete word, which should sound like an insult to the ears of the modern a woman.

Before centering a Brand claim on seduction it is nowadays appropriate to ask: 1) whether the seduction represents the highest aspiration of the modern woman, or however still a feasible way towards self-assertion; 2) what is the value that the culture of respective society gives to such behavior.

For their part, also brands are called nowadays to renounce the artifice of seduction to establish authentic intimacy with their customers.

Go back