Hepburn and Leigh: For the independently-minded lingerie lover

The inspiration behind your retro-inspired lingerie

by Maz Spencer April 04, 2018 0 Comments

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re into vintage-inspired style, as most of the brands stocked on Hepburn & Leigh have their roots in retro fashion; but do you know where the inspiration for your undies come from?


Kiss Me Deadly "Leonie" robe worn with Bettie Page Lingerie bra & briefs


Surreal underwear

I couldn’t resist putting this set and robe together as they are both based on Schiaparelli designs. The set is from Bettie Page Lingerie, who take their inspiration from the Queen of Pin-Ups and treat us with affordable versions from her wardrobe adapted to our times (especially in terms of fabrics and trims). This fabulously surreal hand-print bra was originally attributed to the great Schiaparelli (sorry it doesn't show up much in the above pic, the light wasn't kind...). As far as I know there weren’t any matching knickers, but BPL complemented the bra with a pair of briefs featuring the fun hand appliqué on the rear. They also came up with a contrasting red version – sadly both are now sold out (when we tell you to get things quick because they’re limited edition, it’s true!).


A close-up of the BPL bra to better show the print - Bettie herself in her original - back view of the BPL briefs in red


The Kiss Me Deadly robe also was based on a 40s Schiaparelli design with a few tweaks: the stiff fabric was replaced with slinky satin and the bust was simplified. The fantastic bat sleeves and pointy cuffs with covered buttons were totally kept, though! I adore this robe because it’s as practical as it is elegant. You can actually do stuff in it. I mean, kimonos look great but you can’t make and eat breakfast without ending up with the sleeves covered in eggs – kimonos are clearly for people who have servants. This robe is warm: sheer lacy robes are beautiful but totally useless on a chilly winter morning. Moreover, you can open the door to the postman whilst remaining decent. The bat sleeves mean that the fabric is safely away from pre-ablution armpits. The robe I’m wearing in those pictures is a factory sample, and this colourway never actually went into production: it is instead available in a deliciously dark purple/aubergine colour.



The original Schiap robe! Pointy cuffs & covered buttons!



Did you say swimming corset?!!

Kiss Me Deadly "Basbleu" waist cincher & "Van Doren" bralet with Playful Promises briefs from many seasons ago - I like how the triangle cut-out of the bra and criss-cross pattern of the briefs echo the geometrical design of the cincher


Believe it or not, this Kiss Me Deadly waist cincher was based on a 1900s swimming corset – because of course in Edwardian times, swimming in heavy woolly garments that sag and take ages to dry wasn’t uncomfortable enough, one could also wear a corset!



                         The original 1902 design - front and back


The contemporary version has been turned back to front and updated with modern fabrics and colours, it closes at the back with a bow.





Not so much of a repro garment, Kiss Me Deadly took inspiration from Marlene Dietrich who famously popularised androgynous clothing, and particularly the tuxedo, to create a lingerie version of the tux. When I first saw images of the "Dietrich" ivory cropped waistcoat, I assumed it was a loose-ish decorative garment, but when I received mine, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that in fact it has a proper underband that closes at the back with a hook & eye fastening and bust darts. It can indeed be worn in lieu of a bra as well as being layered, and can be mixed & matched with both outerwear or other lingerie pieces. A much more versatile piece than meets the eye!



Tuxedo lingerie looks in classic black with the "Vargas" longline girdle and in a softer peach & ivory combo with the "Vargas" cupless dress, both by KMD


I've totally worn the mini waistcoat as outerwear with a high waisted skirt!


Would you like to find out more about how your retro style lingerie and swimwear came about?

Maz Spencer
Maz Spencer