Photograph courtesy Flickr/atwatervillage
Best of LA, 2007
For sheer variety, Trashy Lingerie (402 N. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., 310-652-4543) trumps Frederick’s of Hollywood and Victoria’s Secret. It’s a single-location store that sells only the house brand, but the number of styles is dizzying, and if you want your bra or merry widow with a different cup size, the solicitous staff can order it for pickup the following week. There’s a $2 “annual membership” fee required to enter the store and no prices on anything—annoyances made up for by the unparalleled range on the overstuffed racks, much of it better quality than you’d expect from a place that keeps open bags of used underwear protectors in the dressing rooms. This is the place to go for a naughty nurse dress ($30), a plus-size fishnet body stocking ($8), or a white camisole bra in sturdy stretch lace with powder blue bows ($90).
Instead of using pink and other girlish frills, Mary Jo Bruno (227 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Manhattan Beach, 310-802-1518) has opted for austere ’60s glamour, with Lucite tables and low, upholstered turquoise chairs. The designer’s line is the only one available here: Half of it features items like silk velvet camisoles ($325) and short floral negligees with a keyhole detail under the bust ($350); the other half is devoted to reworked vintage lingerie, such as a satin slip with a pleated bust updated with new Chantilly lace and a tiny velvet bow ($350). Bruno sells her line to Fred Segal and Neiman Marcus, but here customers are treated to champagne.
If Helmut Newton were alive, he’d live here. Agent Provocateur (7961 Melrose Ave., L.A., 323-653-0229) sells the most pedigreed kink in town (one of the owners is the son of fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and punk impresario Malcolm McLaren). The quality of the goods matches that of standard-bearer La Perla, but the designs are spicier: cupless bras with a big bow ($135), satin corsets ($265), and “playsuits”—contraptions of belts that go around the neck and connect garters to stockings ($155). The friendly staff, outfitted in short, tight dresses, does its best to warm up the museumlike space, which is wallpapered in a chartreuse and raspberry lily-leaf print. Each dressing room has a robe in it—but no fuzzy slippers.
Coco de Mer (8618 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, 310-652-0311) sexed up Melrose Heights when it opened its first U.S. shop there late last year. Bringing erotic play into the dressing rooms, the company installed cameras (which customers can use to snap and upload images of themselves) and grates (which can be opened to allow someone in the next room to watch). Like Agent Provocateur, the line was started by Brits. The difference? A funkier, jumbled setting, and lingerie created by an expanding roster of independent designers. Instead of the usual pink-and-black lacies, the store recently stocked a “petal” bra whose three panels on each cup can be worn closed or open ($165) and a four-piece silk maid’s outfit ($1,260). The shop also carries some vintage items, like a 1930s ivory silk gown ($175).
The main display at Panty Raid (2378 1⁄2 Glendale Blvd., Silver Lake, 323-668-1888) is set on a light table so that construction details are clearly visible. As stark as it is sexy, the shop is kitted out with a video game console for bored tag-along friends and uses bakery boxes for wrapping purchases. The fare isn’t scandalous, but it’s affordable: Mary Green lace-trimmed silk panties ($16.50), Felina bright-colored thongs ($9), and Only Hearts thick stretch slips in muted retro-looking hues ($88). Even the French imports are under $100.
The name, which means “to show off,” is as French as the decor of white wood armoires, chandeliers, and faded checkerboard paint. Faire Frou Frou (13017A Ventura Blvd., Studio City, 818-783-4970) carries petticoat panties by Honeydew ($20) and lace bras by Elle Macpherson ($60) but goes luxe with short silk nighties by Belgian designer C. Gilson ($790) and goddess-style sheer silk gowns by Rosamosario ($940).
Large? Small? Demure? Wild? Under G’s (433 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-860-0561) has got it covered, but just barely. The lingerie shop caters to all types with a full complement of intimate apparel from Europe’s most desirable labels. La Perla lace bodysuits, Aubade silk panties with drawstring closures, Nina Ricci mesh bras, and paper-thin cotton tank tops from Hanro are natural choices for comfortable yet sexy underpinnings. For extra support, there’s La Perla’s more modest (and moderately priced) line, Occhi Verdi, with bras in bubble gum pink, black, and white. They’ve got the whole Cosabella collection, too—thongs, panties, camisoles, and night dresses. Meow.