Heart to Heart: The mother-daughter team of Helena and Kaya Stuart keep the Only Hearts brand a successful labor of love.

Kaya and Helena Stuart

Kaya and Helena Stuart

I love Only Hearts. As a New York-based retailer, I deeply admire what founder Helena Stuart has accomplished with the innovative shop she founded more than 30 years ago, growing the Only Hearts brand into a unique lifestyle statement. That’s why I just added a range of wonderful pieces from the 2013 collection to the brand assortment available at ThePinkSlip.com. Only Hearts, which Helena describes as inner-outerwear™, is a full range of classifications including intimates, sleepwear, dresses and more, all proudly made in New York City’s garment district. The line is fabulously girly with clean lines, soft colors and cozy fabrics figuring prominently throughout. The girly energy doubled 11 years ago when Helena’s talented daughter Kaya joined the firm and the company officially became a family affair. I recently chatted with Helena about her inspirations, the evolution of the intimates market and the joys of working with family.

Margo Andros: Helena, what inspires your approach to designs?

Helena Stuart: I think most designers would agree to having an inner drive to see the world in their own way. This is the core of what motivates me; I just start from the inside out.

Margo: How have you seen the intimates market change over the years since you founded Only Hearts?

Helena: When I trademarked inner-outerwear in 1980 there was no contemporary lingerie market. A camisole was strictly an underpinning, not to be worn on its own as a top. So things have changed a lot! It’s been wonderful to be a part of this evolution, to see a full circle acceptance and appreciation of showing a little bit of what’s underneath.

Margo: How has the Only Hearts brand evolved over time?

Helena: It’s hard to summarize, briefly, almost 34 years in business, especially manufacturing in New York City’s Garment District! When I started, I was using only black and white, mostly cotton. Currently we use a rainbow’s range of colors, textures, and fabrics from all over the world. Also, the original Only Hearts customer was in her twenties, my age when I founded the business. Over the years we’ve grown together, and her daughter is now another core part of our customer base.

Margo: What key trends is Only Hearts offering for 2013?

Helena: Only Hearts is not really a ‘trendy’ brand. We’re doing a lot of color blocking and patchwork ideas, which haven’t looked fresh to me in a while. Also, a big interest in burlesque / erotica inspired lingerie.

Margo: What’s it like to collaborate with your daughter Kaya?

Helena: It’s a gift!  I consider myself to be very lucky not only to see her most days, but to get to know her as a creative thinker and problem solver outside the roles within our (large, traditional, ITALIAN) family.

Margo: You’re indeed very lucky to have her. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with my followers, Helena.

Helena: You’re welcome. It was a pleasure!

Now that we know the inspiration, here’s a look at some of my faves from the Only Hearts assortment at ThePinkSlip.com.

Delicious Chemise

This chemise, in delicious microfiber, fits closely to your body while feeling incredibly soft next to your skin. Delicate lace accentuates the neckline and hem of the chemise, creating sleepwear that looks as good as it feels.

Delicious Chemise by Only Hearts

Delicious Chemise by Only Hearts

 

Organic Cotton Skinny Tank

Only Hearts’ signature skinny tank in 100% organic Supima cotton has an easy fit and a wonderful feel. The straps are wide enough to conceal your bra straps, which is perfect for everyday wear. Great for sleeping, playing, wearing out, anyway you wear it it. It’s the perfect closet essential.

Organic cotton Skinny Tank by Only Hearts

Organic cotton Skinny Tank by Only Hearts

Silk Mini Slip

Our favorite Only Hearts mini-slip combines the lusciousness of silk accentuated with beautiful lace detailing for ultimate sexiness. It’s a beautiful layering piece, in an easy-to-wear, under-it-all slip.

Silk Mini Slip by Only Hearts

Silk Mini Slip by Only Hearts

Second Skin Strapless Convertible Bra

This strapless bra gives you full coverage with just the right amount of lift and support. Part of Only Hearts’ Second Skin collection, this underwire bra truly feels as soft and as natural as your own skin! It comes complete with a convertible strap, from strapless to one-shoulder to halter-style.

Strapless Convertible Bra by Only Hearts

Strapless Convertible Bra by Only Hearts

I hope you enjoyed our special peek at the new offerings from Only Hearts. It’s literally a brand with a lot of heart!

XOXO,

Margo

Oh, Lola: Lingerie designer Laura Mehlinger shares her inspirations for her cutting-edge brand Lola Haze.

Lola Haze founder Laura Mehlinger

Lola Haze founder Laura Mehlinger

In the world of fashion, there are designers and then there are innovators. I consider Laura Mehlinger to be firmly entrenched in the latter category. The Harvard graduate has brought a fresh perspective to glamorous lingerie with her Lola Haze brand, which defies categorization. Her retro-inspired intimates include camisoles and rompers that can easily be layered under ready-to-wear pieces for ensembles that take a woman from daywear into evening looks. Inspired by the title character in the classic novel Lolita, Laura’s designs reimagine classic lingerie silhouettes with a thoroughly modern design aesthetic that combines rich fabrications in unexpected ways that are both romantic and edgy. Her customer looks feminine and glamorous in dainty chemises, slips and camisoles paired with panty styles designed to flatter the wearer in fresh ways. Lola Haze features luxurious fabrics such as silk charmeuse, combined with unique applications of lace or mesh, in designs that make a woman feel like a siren. Black, sheers and sheen are common themes throughout the collection. If you want to sparkle and seduce, Lola Haze is a brand for you. I recently caught up with the globe-trotting Laura to get some insight into what motivates her design process for Lola Haze and she gave me a sneak peek into what her fans can expect in the Spring/Summer collection.

Margo Andros: Laura, Lola Haze is truly unique in the market. What inspired you to create the brand?

Laura Mehlinger: I’ve wanted to design lingerie since probably before that was a reasonable interest. When I was a child, I taught myself garment construction and how to draw and design, and then decided to focus on another love, English literature, at Harvard. While there, I combined my love of fashion with academics and created a line of womenswear—which was a bit unconventional on that campus. After university, I designed womenswear for the Gap before starting Lola Haze. I named Lola Haze after the title character in the novel Lolita, which I wrote my thesis about and which continues to intrigue and inspire me.

Margo: How would you describe your design aesthetic?

Laura: I find quirkiness—visual and otherwise—inspiring and am driven in my designing by the idea of surprise. I think true style is the ability to mold juxtapositions: elegance and kitsch, innocence and seduction, playfulness and sophistication.

Margo: Who is the Lola Haze customer?

Laura: I design not for one particular customer, but for any woman who is playful, confident, loves the transformative power of clothing, and dresses for herself. I love lingerie because it dances between public and private domains. It can be a woman’s own secret that makes her feel special or something beautiful for display. She can wear Lola Haze as innerwear, loungewear, or outerwear.

Margo: What are your favorite fabrics and colors?

Laura: I love to color block and mix fabrics, often silk charmeuse or chiffon with stretch lace or mesh. This creates more visual and textural interest, I think, and has the additional design benefit of feeling luxurious while offering exceptional fit and comfort. I also focus on artisanal hand-crafted elements to make a garment truly special, like individually hand-dyed items and hand-painted details. Lola Haze is designed and produced with love in New York City.

Margo: What direction is Lola Haze taking with its 2013 Collection?

Laura: When I was designing Lola Haze’s Spring / Summer 2013 collection I traveled from New York City to Tokyo. In both places I found myself staring at peoples’ clothes on the street. My neck was exhausted by whipping from left to right as every outfit crossed my field of vision.

In Tokyo, more than New York, each girl was devoted from head to toe to a single fashion identity, though these identity groups were discrete and varied. So a funny visual thing would happen. In one visual field, I might see a neo punk girl, a Harajuku girl, and a new romantic girl brushing past each other. Together, they created a sort of style pointillism in which each person’s style expression contributed one pixel to a greater picture of a complex, vibrant city.

“The City,” Lola Haze’s Spring / Summer 2013 collection, takes its inspiration from the streets of two great cities, New York and Tokyo. I wanted to capture a variety of bold styles and unify them with hallmarks of Lola Haze’s design. Throughout the collection are body-revealing cut-outs, color-blocking, and pattern mixing.

The Philanthropist Group, opulent with mixed patterns of black lace, ivory silk and gold chains, represents a modern take on classic eveningwear. The Swagger Chemise and Teddy demand attention with their body-con silhouettes and architectural cutouts between the starkly contrasting black, white, and gold fabrics.

The Bomb Group includes a robe, chemise, teddy, bralette and thong. Its electric fuchsia, turquoise, ivory and lime bodies, punctuated with silver or black geometric elastic, were inspired by the layered colors and bold individualism of New York’s graffiti walls. The City Nights Chemise and Romper, made of color-blocked silk chiffon, are flirty, playful, and light as the air of a city summer night.

Margo: It all sounds very modern and cool. I can’t wait to see it. Thanks for the scoop on the upcoming season.

Laura: My pleasure, Margo. Thanks to you, too!

Ladies, you don’t need to wait until spring to stock up on some Lola Haze. We have a great selection of styles on ThePinkSlip.com that will make you look thoroughly glamorous and hip. Here are some of my favorites!

XOXO,

Margo

Charleston Chemise by Lola Haze

Charleston Chemise by Lola Haze

Liquid Lace Romper by Lola Haze

Liquid Lace Romper by Lola Haze

Vionnet Chemise by Lola Haze

Vionnet Chemise by Lola Haze

Whisper Slip by Lola Haze

Whisper Slip by Lola Haze

Embrace Cami and Short by Lola Haze

Embrace Cami and Short by Lola Haze

Shop Like a Man: Everything a guy needs to know to buy intimate apparel for a woman.

blogcreative3A man’s first time is very important. No, I’m not talking about THAT first time, I’m referring to his first experience buying intimates for the woman in his life. This is a rite of passage that means a lot to both the man and the woman and I feel compelled to address it in MARGO’S MUST HAVES to offer my take on how a guy can get it right out of the gate. In fact, this entire week’s posts will be dedicated to looking at the lingerie-buying experience from a man’s perspective. Ladies, you might want to pass this along to your men. Guys, listen up! Over the course of the decade I operated Pink Slip in Grand Central Station, I have to say some of my favorite, most memorable interactions were with male shoppers. As a woman, I can say that there are few things that can top shopping for women’s underwear as a thoughtful, romantic gesture that reveals the level of intimacy a man has achieved with his significant other. In other words, it’s a big deal, guys! Don’t let this intimidate you, however. With a little forethought, you can get it right and she will love you for it, trust me. Preparation is the key to making the process easy on yourself. This is where a good sales associate comes in. We all know that guys are visual creatures but judging the correct sizes of your gal’s undies by comparing her to other women isn’t going to get the job done. I can’t tell you how many times men came to my store eager to buy intimates, usually as quickly as possible, only to respond to my question about the woman’s bra size by glancing at my chest and saying “she’s a little bit smaller than you.” This approach may be good for a nervous giggle, but it will only guarantee that you’ll need to make another trip to the store. I always advised my male customers to find an opportune moment to take a sneak peek in their lady’s underwear drawer to examine the tags and write down the sizes as a first step. I want to point out that I’m assuming you’re married, living together or in a long-term committed relationship, otherwise I don’t think it’s appropriate for you to do this! That said, this information will help the sales associate guide you better in your shopping experience. I suggest you put together a “Lingerie Facts List” and be ready to answer five key questions that are the sure sign of a good sales associate who knows her stuff:

  1. What is her bra size?
  2. What is her panty size?
  3. What is her dress size?
  4. Is the gift for a special occasion?
  5. What is her personal style? Casual, wholesome, sexy or glamorous?

Remember that the sales associate is there to make your experience as relaxed as possible. She may ask you to describe your significant other’s hair color to select colors that are most likely to flatter her. It’s fashion so it can be fun! The more information you share the better the service the associate can give you. I want to point out that shopping for women’s intimates doesn’t have to be just an annual event. If a woman can buy a man a six-pack of briefs why shouldn’t he shop for her basics, too? If you reach that level of intimacy in your relationship it’s a beautiful thing! With the holidays upon us, I’ve put together a few suggestions to get you started.

Eberjey Giovanna Camisole

Eberjey Giovanna Camisole

A Romantic Camisole:

The Giovanna collection features flattering cuts and feel-good fabrics Eberjey is known for. The cami features pretty lace and eye-catching scalloped edging. It makes a great gift item paired with the Giovanna pant.

Levante Romantic Thigh Highs

Levante Romantic Thigh Highs

Sexy Legwear:

From daily staples to special evenings and sultry nights, Levante’s Stocking and Thigh High Collection contains items for every occasion. Levante thigh highs can be worn as hold ups or stockings, making them really versatile. The decorative three-inch lace top is lined with silicone to prevent slipping.

LOU Picadilly demi bra & shorty

LOU Picadilly demi bra & shorty

Lace Lingerie:

The LOU Paris Piccadilly lace demi bra features a semi-sheer genuine Leaver’s lace cup, with soft sheer mesh lining. It offers a natural uplift, has adjustable straps and is super comfy in silky microfiber fabric. Looks great with a cute matching boy short.

Mimi Holliday Tinkerbell bra & panty set

Mimi Holliday Tinkerbell bra & panty set

A sweet bra & panty set:

The Tinkerbell set by Mimi Holliday is a delicate and sweet look made from the softest of apricot silks blended with a chic shade of taupe. The Tinkerbell Super Padded Super Plunge is true to it’s name, creating incredible uplift and shape with cool taupe silk satin cups and complimenting peach lace overlay. Paired with the Classic Knicker, it’s a great gift ensemble.

I hope you guys like my suggestions. Be sure to check back later this week when I take a closer look at what women really want when they get intimates as a gift.

XOXO,

Margo