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Being a lingerie designer has got to be interesting. Other designers have their new clothes flash and flare as buyers flaunt their latest and greatest collections. Eccentric lines grab awe and attention from the onlookers – charming up conversation or strange looks between the curious. Ready-to-wear collections stroll quietly with sophistication, comfort and modernism. The latest and greatest shoe and handbag designers draw both ire and envy.
Alas, a set of lingerie, with all the creativity, detail and engineering that goes into each piece, is silently unthanked. The closest garment to the body, it needs to be comfortable at all times. Scratchy or ill-fitting lingerie is never acceptable. Hidden beneath layers of clothes to only reveal themselves to the confidence of your confidants or your mirror, few get to appreciate the art and beauty of donned intimate wear. But more so than anything else a woman can wear, well-designed, beautiful lingerie makes one audience feel amazing – herself. It’s her own little secret beneath the outerwear, a surprise to be unwrapped, a spark of excitement behind the business.
Carrie Russell Bakker, designer of With Love Lingerie, embraces this condition. From an early age, she found the joy of making her own eccentric clothes. “I always liked working with my hands and creating/building things,” says Bakker. “All through high school and university I sewed outlandish outfits to wear (some I’d rather forget about) but decided after graduation to go back to school and take fashion to really learn about techniques and the business side of the industry.”
She discovered Vivienne Westwood who paired classic patterns with 70s punk. Since then, she has been creating moods by fusing vintage and modernism in her lingerie designs. One of her latest lines, Lilly, brings intricate hand-dyed lace collar pieces applied to comfortable bralettes, panties and garter belts. It evokes a sense of Victorian simplicity paired with delicate elegance without ever feeling too heavy or pretentious.
Bakker found her start after her graduation from the University of Western Ontario. A follower of visual art and English literature, her studies in fashion arts brought her to start working with several private labels, including lingerie designers. Her creative skills even earned a nod from one of Canada’s most renowned publications, Flare Magazine, where she was named one of the country’s top up-and-coming designers. Most recently, Bakker’s latest lines graced the catwalks of Fashion Art Toronto, a local show dedicated to both innovative designs and ready-to-wear oddities. “I love the chance to work with such an awesome organization,” Bakker says. “It gives me the chance to flex my creative muscles and see the pieces come to life on the runway.”
At FAT, With Love attracted the attention of many buyers soon to be carrying her handmade lines in stores across North America and the UK. Each piece is sold in specialty boutique lingerie stores and avoids the anonymity of being in a big brand box outlet. Shoppers can get a unique piece from Bakker on Etsy as well. Every model I’ve ever put in With Love Lingerie has marvelled both at the beauty and construction of each set. This editorial, shot with the beautiful Malissa from Hamilton, Ontario, Stephanie from Fort Erie and Manda from Oshawa should give you a glimpse into the talent and inspiration behind each of these wonderful pieces.
This summer, Bakker looks to organize a media party in Toronto including performances, runway shows and shopping. If you’re in the area, drop by and pick up a piece or a set. And, let Carrie know how the set makes you feel. I’m sure she would be thankful.