story by Lisa Radano
photos by Charles Beckwith
La Perla is a venerable 60 year old Italian company, beloved internationally, but revered domestically – and especially adored in its hometown of Bologna. Creative Director Giovanni Bianchi, also from Bologna, has established himself at the design helm for several seasons. Passion, sensuality, and romance are words that are sprinkled liberally over any dish of Italian identity. In fact, Italians consider themselves ambassadors of these ideals, and their commensurate talent for all things stylish seemingly goes right down to the DNA.
Passion is the very brand of the place, so when Mr. Bianchi told me the inspiration for his Fall 2013 line of lingerie and loungewear was Spain, I had to ask. “What exactly does Spain have to teach Italy about passion and style?” He answered me, chuckling, “I think in Spain there is something alive that in Italy we have lost a bit. Spain is more traditional. You still have the bullfight, Flamenco, the old ways are still held close. In Italy many have gone away.”
A lace mantilla, the vivid bolero of a toreador, a flash of black petticoat, the roar of a modern crowd still enthralled by ancient blood sport, the violent beauty and riveting clatter of Flamenco dance are all original to Spain and speak to a sort of passion that takes no prisoners. The life and death motif, the absence of any middle ground, the clear-cut existence of a rule book written in black and white, are all quite, well, sexy. After all, what’s the fun or the point of naughty skivvies in a world where everything is allowed?
Mr. Bianchi’s nine utterly gorgeous, golden fleshed models stood quietly while we tried not to gape at the lace babydolls, fringed silk nightgowns, fluttery cloaks, satin bras, stockings, and silk pajamas with garters peeking through that they were just barely wearing. The color scheme of deep black, blood red, and golden nude was accented by a bit of plush hunter green. This collection and its fabrics, lace, and styling may have been inspired by Spanish ardor; make no mistake they were well served by Italian craftsmanship and perfectionism. Another range of scantier corsetry was presented atop knee high lace-up stilettos. La Perla’s “Black Label” was reintroduced this season Mr. Bianchi said, due to the popularity of “that book with the shades of grey.” Be assured, none of these fervent underpinnings fall in a grey area.