As you know, we at VienneMilano loves all things Italian - Italian shoes, Italian cars, and Italian hosiery ...What’s not to love? However, there’s one other culture that tops the spot when it comes to the world of lingerie, and that’s the French.
Ever wonder where the word "lingerie" comes from? Many terms associated with lingerie, such as boudoir and décolletageare are French. To help you in the translation of the mostly French terms used throughout the world of fine lingerie, and to better acquaint you with the "language of love", we offer you the Viennemilano Lingerie dictionary. We also included a few cultural terms for your plaisir (pleasure) …
Arrondissement - [a-rawn-dees-mahn] The numerical classification of the administrative districts or neighborhoods of Paris, the first being the center with subsequent ones spiraling outwards in a clock-wise direction. Most famous tourist attractions are situated in one of the central eight arrondissements.
Atelier - [atuh-lyey]
The studio or workshop of an artist or designer. Ateliers were creative spaces of an artist in the fine or decorative arts, with a principal master, assistants and apprentices working together to produce pieces under the master's name. Today atelier is often associated with luxury fashion design houses.
Bisou - [bizu]
A kiss."Bisous" (kisses) is a common way to end a letter between two friends. We also like the manner in which the word slips off your tongue with ease upon parting from anyone whose company you truly enjoy.
Boudoir - [boo-dwahr]
A woman's private sitting room, dressing room or bedroom. The boudoir was also used for entertaining small parties, known as salons, hosted by women who exemplified a certain social style and a new sexual style as well.
Brassière - [bruh-zeer]
A woman's undergarment for covering and supporting the breasts. The word has been shortened to the more informal term "bra" and is also referred in contemporary French as soutien-gorge.
Coquette - [koh-ket]
A woman using her feminine charms to seduce in a flirtatious manner. She is often portrayed as a rather insincere woman without affection who endeavors to win the attention and admiration of men.
Couture - [koo-too-r]
French for dressmaking and abbreviated term for haute couture, (literally high sewing). A Haute couture garment is usually created for a client, tailored to the wearer's specific measurements and often made by hand from start to finish, using high quality and often unusual fabric, and sewn with incredible attention to detail.
Décolletage - [dey-kawl-tazh]
A woman's cleavage as revealed by a plunging neckline. Made popular in 18th century French fashion, many fashionable women went so far as to expose one or both nipples on occasion; or their bodice was cut so low that with the slightest movement a nipple might make a surprise appearance.
Dentelle de Calais - [den-te- de-ka-ley]
The Dentelle de Calais is a registered and protected trademark, exclusively reserved for lace made on Leavers looms by master lacemakers of Calais using a unique method which dates back to the beginning of the 19th century.
Femme fatale - [fam-fatal]
An irresistibly attractive woman who uses her sexuality to charm and lure men into compromising and dangerous situations for her own pleasure. A seductress who causes men to fall in love with her often to their own demise.
Femme à la mode - [fam-a-la-mohd]
A fashionable, stylish woman. The importance of fashion and its identification with Paris and its women became famous in the 19th century, when writer, Victor Hugo, wrote that half the female population lives off fashion, while the other half lives for fashion.
Guêpière - [ɡɛpjɛʀ]
A type of corset made popular in the 1940-50's which combined the bustier, waist cincher and garter belt into a one-piece garment. This style also became an iconic piece for the French design house, Christian Dior.
Guipure - [gi-pyoo-r]
An elegant lace with a dense interwoven pattern. This lace pattern resembles embroidery or corded lace but without any visible backing net. The effect is embroideries sewn together in a beautiful piece of fabric.
Kir - [keer]
A popular French apéritif which consists of a dry white wine with a splash of crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur). Kir Royale differs from Kir in that it is made using Champagne, rather than white wine. and typically reserved for celebrations and special occasions.
La Parisienne - [puh-ree-zee-en]
A woman of luxury and a seductress. The mythical portrayal of the 19th century Parisian woman was described as an elegant, independent, not very sincere creature, and for that very reason, infinitely seductive.
L'école de la Nuit - [l-ey-kawl-de-la-nɥi]
This term translates literally to "the school of the night".
Lingerie - [lanzhuh-ree]
Underwear, sleepwear and other intimate apparel items worn by women. As the final barrier to the nude body, lingerie is simultaneously modest and erotic. The design of lingerie enhances its allure: it strategically reveals, conceals, and highlights a woman's form.
Prêt-à-Porter - [pret-ah-pawr-tey]
This is the French term for "ready-to-wear" fashion. In the fashion industry, designers produce ready-to-wear clothing intended to be worn without significant alteration. These garments are not custom-fitted as in haute couture fashion.
Soirée - [swah-rey]
An intimate evening party or gathering given usually at a private home. This is an elegant affair which calls for formal attire and often is held to celebrate the opening of an art gallery, play or musical performance.
Photos taken by Marcus Jason, model: Amy Friel
Did we miss a French term? Tell us in the comment below.
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