Atlanta is getting more intimate … apparel, that is.
The city has recently welcomed several high-end lingerie stores that have long been favorites of European women.
Agent Provocateur, the 20-year-old British import, first brought its provocative and playful underthings to Phipps Plaza in 2013. La Perla, a 60-year-old Italian brand, opened last year at the Shops Buckhead Atlanta. And in September, another British shop, Rigby & Peller, expanded to the U.S., taking over former Intimacy shops at Phipps Plaza and elsewhere nationwide.
Lingerie is definitely having a moment, and we’re not talking about the basics.
“Women are still focused and interested in style and fashion,” said Atlanta-based Intimacy founder Susan Nethero, who was mentored by the founder of Rigby & Peller. “With the opening of new centers like the Shops Buckhead Atlanta, a lot of the European brands, especially the luxury brands, are looking to establish themselves here.”
In the early 2000s, women were very practical when it came to lingerie, Nethero said, estimating that about 90 percent of the lingerie sold in America has been focused on practical styles such as T-shirt bras in neutral colors.
Now many women are seeking more high-fashion undergarments that showcase color and are made of lace and other fine materials. Even corsets, those waist-cinching relics from the Victorian era, have had a resurgence in fashionable circles.
The European boutiques bring extensive service and styling to the art of lingerie selling, which is to be expected when items can cost anywhere from just under $100 (panties, hosiery) to well over $2,000 (nightgowns featuring Chantilly lace). The majority of American women may not be accustomed to spending $100-$200 on a bra, Nethero said, but that trend appears to be changing.
At Agent Provocateur, customers get private fittings and are assisted by staffers dressed in pink Vivienne Westwood housecoats and heels. The brand, co-founded by Westwood’s son, features everything from accessories including whips and paddles to lingerie-inspired cocktail dresses.
Recently relaunched, La Perla offers fitting rooms that feature “service” bells to summon sales staff. La Perla boutiques have private space for VIP customers. Collections include the full range of lingerie as well as swimwear, shoes and apparel — a concept La Perla refers to as “Inside Out” since it features clothing that can be exposed or covered up according to your taste.
Rigby & Peller, like Intimacy, does not carry its own brand of merchandise. It sells a range of items from top brands including Primadonna, Stella McCartney and Le Chat — which is sold exclusively at Rigby & Peller stores. As the oldest of the stores with 75 years in the lingerie game, Rigby & Peller can also claim to be the official lingerie outfitter of Queen Elizabeth II in London.
“Rigby & Peller is world-renowned for their quality service, lingerie styling and curated lingerie collections. We wanted to bring the very best to American women, and this is a brand that caters to all of her lingerie wardrobe needs,” said CEO Ginny Gerard. “Atlanta has always been an important market to Intimacy as the store was started here and it will continue to be an important market for Rigby & Peller.”
Nethero, who has since shifted her focus to investing in woman-owned and -managed businesses, says the new crop of lingerie shops in Atlanta offers women a boost, both inside and out.
“We have always felt that if a woman felt beautiful, it will change other elements of her confidence and her self-worth,” she said. “When women wear fashion lingerie, they feel more attractive and more confident.”