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Archive for Sunday, May 25, 2008

Lingerie parties fete ‘Sex and the City’

May 25, 2008

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— With no other Hollywood characters filling the stylish shoes of the ladies of "Sex and the City" in the years the TV series has been dormant, the fashion industry has been eagerly waiting to see how Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda look when they emerge from hibernation.

So it's no coincidence that the splashy feature film at the end of the month has a long list of fashion marketing tie-ins - right down to your underwear. Lingerie brand Cosabella created a "Sex and the City"-inspired line, and stores around the country are welcoming it with themed cocktail parties.

The collection by Cosabella - a staple for the HBO show - includes mini collections based on each of the character's tastes in lace and satin. The Carrie look is the most funky and fashion forward, including a bustier top with a black background, floral print and leopard trim, while Charlotte's more demure loungewear outfit is all in an ivory color and made of an eco-friendly bamboo fabric.

Samantha's set is characteristically racy and in a bright tropical coral color, while Miranda's violet-and-turquoise pieces are sophisticated in their design yet bold because of the colors.

"It's all stuff I would sell anyway," says Meghan Kendall, owner of Pretty Thing boutique in Beverly Hills, Calif. "It's true to the Cosabella line - some trendy, some elegant, some sexy, but all beautiful colors and beautiful fits."

She has high hopes for what it can do for her sales: "The 'Sex and the City' movie is a big deal. Everyone wants a piece of it, everyone wants to be a character."

At the upcoming theme party at her store, she'll offer Skyy Vodka cocktails and have aspiring male actors and models serve them. (The Carrie drink is "the new cosmo" and includes mango nectar instead of cranberry juice.)

Typically, lingerie events are drier affairs that tend to be more serious and clinical because they focus on fit, according to Elizabeth Hospodar, Bloomingdale's operating vice president and divisional merchandise manager for intimate apparel. The retail chain is planning several "Sex and the City" parties in different cities.

"I think the character tie-in makes it more fun," she says. "I think every woman has a little bit of each character in her."

Cosabella lingerie was featured often on "Sex and the City," and while it was not referenced as overtly as Manolo Blahniks, it had plenty of air time. Sarah Jessica Parker reportedly wore a bra in bedroom scenes to honor the no-nudity clause in her contract.

Guido Campello, vice president of branding and innovation at Cosabella, says it was important to resonate with fans, but the brand - and its partner HBO - wanted to do so without relying on cliches or logos. There are no obvious references to "Sex and the City" other than the inside label.

"The fan-base merchandise has its audience - the T-shirts with 'Sex and the City' or 'Hello, lover,' or 'I'm a Carrie' - and we have to satisfy that base, but we always do it with great quality fabrics, look for things that are eco-friendly and try to make them more upscale," says James Costos, vice president of licensing and retail for HBO.

A shoe partnership might have seemed like a natural, but HBO is protective of the brand and wouldn't want anything less than a deal with Manolo Blahnik, Costos says with a laugh.

As soon as Gretchen Reachmack, owner of Wildflowers Lingerie in Chicago, saw the Cosabella offerings, she knew it would warrant a party. "All of my girlfriends love 'Sex and the City, so how could I not have them over and celebrate the new movie?"

She expects 200 people and then plans to go on with most of them to a local lounge.

The excitement among her friends is genuine, Reachmack says, because no entertainment brand - not a film, TV show or music icon - has filled the fashion void left by Carrie and her crew.

"They gave us permission to experiment," she says.

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