Boisdale’s newest neighbour on Elizabeth Street is bespoke lingerie company Luna Mae, founded by Claudia Lambeth in 2012. We asked Claudia to explain the motivation behind Luna Mae and yes, she really does sell solid gold knickers!
These days, the word ‘luxury’ gets thrown around an awful lot.
I think it went swiftly downhill when they began introducing ‘luxury cat food’. For the lingerie industry, it has become even more apparent. I started my journey as a twenty-two-year-old, ex-Law student dissatisfied with the quality on offer, the problems with sizing and the fact that so much ‘luxury lingerie’ was really just mass produced in China.
So I decided to do something about it. I was on a mission to offer a British-made, quality product that was designed to really celebrate women; I founded Luna Mae London, which is currently the only brand to specialise in a bespoke lingerie service. And just two months ago, I took the plunge and opened my first flagship store.
So, what is it about bespoke lingerie that makes it so special? Unlike traditional lingerie off the High street, where the woman is made to fit into the particular garment, we choose to build the garment around the woman. When a client comes in for a bespoke fitting, I spend time understanding what she is looking for us to create. It can vary from a bride searching for a spectacular show-stopping set to wear underneath a wedding dress, to a woman who is longing for a bra which fits her like a glove and in turn makes her feel amazing.
I start the fitting by trying on some existing ‘blocks’, or sample silhouettes as I like to call them, which I then use to take detailed measurements. These measurements are then transformed into her very own bespoke pattern and used to cut out her chosen satin silks. The client is then invited to explore our archives of exquisite hand-corded Chantilly laces, Italian macramé embroideries, and finely beaded tulle appliqués. We can even add solid eighteen-carat yellow gold rings and sliders.
If the client can’t find something she likes, we can develop entirely unique embellishments for her creation, propelling the set as a beautiful work of art, and finishing with monogramming of her initials. Everything is handcrafted by exceptionally skilled seamstresses in our British Atelier and, just as you find on Savile Row, our client patterns are safely stored in our archives for any future orders.
For me, it’s much more than just beautiful quality pieces which are designed to fit, flatter and accentuate in all the right places, it’s about encouraging female empowerment and allowing that woman to feel the best she has ever felt. What I love most is when I get such wonderful feedback from my private clients. They tell me they have never felt so confident, or so elegant. That’s really all I could ever ask for.
As our client base is international, I find it is always important to appreciate and be sensitive to the different cultures with which we come into contact. Saying that, I once found myself in a British etiquette class which specialises in helping ladies from overseas understand the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of English culture. Topics included, ‘How to fold your napkin in just the right way’ and ‘How to master the art of small talk.’ My favourite theme from this particular class was ‘How to have an affair’. As a good student, I looked up from my notes, thinking – seriously?! The speaker continued, “Ladies, if you do decide to have an affair, just make sure he doesn’t live in the same Borough”. This is golden, I thought to myself. Next up was, “Now, if you are playing the Mistress…”, I was trying very hard to keep a straight face by now and pretended to look like this was solid advice, yet I wasn’t quite sure if this was the type of British behaviour we should be encouraging, even with perfect manners.
The best part about what I do is being able to work so closely with our private clients. I have been very fortunate to build up brilliant relationships with these ladies and it’s such a pleasure to keep creating beautiful pieces for them. Offering a bespoke service to help support someone’s intimate areas definitely requires a certain amount of trust, in which I take great pride in upholding. But even five years in business, it still makes me smile to hear how each woman has such different views on how they like their lingerie to sculpt the silhouette. One of my favourite pieces of lingerie insight was from a buxom lady dripping in diamonds whom I had the greatest pleasure of meeting. She pulls me to one side at a dinner party and says, “You see, I like a man to really dig to find my crown jewels.” I can definitely understand why some men find it so difficult to even contemplate buying lingerie for their loved ones, which is probably why our bespoke gift cards are so popular this time of year –better let her decide!
And so, I took a big leap and pitched for the lease of a flagship store. It’s been an incredible journey so far and I’m so proud to have taken that next step. For the past three years, I have been offering private fittings in hotel suites around the globe, or in a client’s own home. I’d travel to them and provide the service; I’ve even been booked as the surprise for a Valentine’s Day treat. Launching the store was a whole new experience for me. I was working to tight timelines and was desperately trying to open on schedule. As word started to spread that the store would be opening in the autumn, we began accepting bookings for in-store appointments. I won’t bore you with the trials and tribulations of start-up life under thirty, but I’ll never forget the first fitting we ever had in the store, a good few weeks before the opening date. The client was flying in for the weekend from Seattle and was coming straight from the plane to her early-morning appointment.
The store was looking beautiful and all that was left was for our Ready-to-Wear loungewear collection to arrive from our London factory. I walked in that morning buzzing with excitement at the thought of having our first fitting in the store. It was a monumental day. As I turn the keys in the door, to my horror I discover that one of the newly installed golden hanging rails is literally hanging off the wall.
Oh dear God.
The client is arriving in twenty minutes. I’m thinking fast and as far as I see, we have two options: 1) Sellotape the shit out of the rail and pray it doesn’t fall down mid-fitting! Or 2) we make it look deliberate. So I frantically start shifting around the visual merchandising of the store and splitting up what was displayed on the rails. I decide to leave another one sparsely decorated so they matched – if just one more of our über-heavy branded gold hangers is put on that rail, the whole thing will fall to the floor. We definitely opted for a ‘less-is-more-style’ that day. Thankfully, the fitting was a great success and the client loved her bespoke pieces when they arrived six weeks later, and ordered her second commission straight away.
Fingers crossed that with hard work and a bit of luck, I can keep fitting some of the world’s most interesting women