2013 Lingerie Design Competition – Interview With Winner Iris-Maria Šegedin

by Estelle Puleston

Earlier this year we launched our third annual lingerie design competition to search out new talent and give one of our fans the chance to see their ideas turned into a real garment for Esty Lingerie. The public voted for the 2nd and 3rd place winners (whom you can find out more about here and here), and then it was our turn to pick the 1st place winner.

The 2013 theme was based around flowers, with entrants picking any flower and creating a unique and inspiring lingerie set to represent it. We saw everything from typical roses to the more obscure baby’s breath, but it was Iris-Maria Šegedin’s eye-catching poppy design that really caught our eye.

This sheer babydoll and harness set not only fits in perfectly with the current range of Esty Lingerie harnesses and choker straps, but it also stood out for being flattering to wear, an original design, well presented, clearly taking inspiration from the poppy (with it’s delicate ‘petals’ outer layer, and stamen-inspired black fringe underneath) and not impossible to manufacture either – all parts of the official judging criteria.

We caught up with entrant and winner Iris-Maria to find out more about the inspiration behind her design, which you’ll soon be able to buy as a limited-edition item here at Esty!

Congratulations on winning the third annual Esty Lingerie design competition! How did it feel to win?

Thank you! It was very exciting, I was hoping to win but wasn’t expecting it at all, I thought I had a chance but there were plenty of interesting designs among the final 16.

What made you decide to enter the lingerie design competition?

I was instantly inspired and couldn’t pass up a chance to design a lingerie set for myself. Although I have no previous lingerie design experience it seemed an interesting challenge and a fun thing to do.

Tell us more about the inspiration behind your poppy design…

The idea of using poppies as inspiration came as I was reading the competition rules and description. I knew I wanted to design something that had a tactile element to it, something that would work for a variety of body types and would be versatile and very sexy. I have recently been interested in the use of fringe in clothing and lingerie and knew it would be perfect to represent the many stamens, and feel exciting to wear while being revealing and covering at the same time.

The translucent red babydoll was a rather organic development once I knew I wanted a literal representation of stamens and it worked wonderfully with the clash of summer, youth and fertility versus sleep, death and rebirth – the symbolism of poppies.

The winning design – a sheer babydoll with a detachable, fringed inner harness.

The winning design – a sheer babydoll with a detachable, fringed inner harness.

Do you have any plans to go into lingerie design in the future?

This competition has definitely given me a taste for it. You can’t study lingerie design in Estonia but I think my graphic design education is a good starting platform to build on.

What are your favourite lingerie brands or designers at the moment?

I’m very excited about the Polish brand Avocado – their designs are sophisticated and elegant without being matronly. Polish brands in general have surprisingly much to offer and usually cater to a wide size range. Chromat is one of the most original brands not only regarding lingerie but clothing in general. Amoralle makes absolutely breathtaking lingerie and balances the line between elegant and richly-designed with perfection.

Karolina Laskowska‘s vintage kimono silk knickers are to die for and you’ll definitely remember her strappy bras and harnesses. I love the idea of upcycling and her work is a fantastic example of how it should be done. I must also mention a fellow Estonian – Kriss Soonik. I love how she blurs the lines between lingerie and outerwear and how easy to wear her pieces are.

Is there anything you feel the lingerie industry is lacking right now, in Estonia or worldwide?

I am an active member of the Reddit.com community called A Bra That Fits and my bra size is 32G. I did not always know this, and I am lucky that I stumbled upon the internet resources to help better inform me. Many women do not have this same good luck. I can only find that size at one lingerie chain in Estonia (Change Lingerie) so I’m understandably concerned with availability of lingerie in larger cup sizes. While it may be more costly to create and stock a larger size range, and it can seem like there isn’t a demand for sizes beyond 32-38 A-DD, the majority of women could actually find their best fit outside the regularly-offered size range when measured correctly. In fact, the average bra size is much closer to 32E or 30F than to 36B or 34C.

We’re stuck with the idea that cup sizes are strongly linked to overall breast volume. While this may have been true in the early days of modern bras, standardisation completely changed how bras were sized. A/B/C/D hasn’t indicated absolute breast volume for decades, but it’s still a surprise to many women that 38C and 32C aren’t designed for the same breast volume, or that it’s possible to have smaller breasts and still find the best fit in a D cup or above. The truth is that the cup size letters are only representations of how much larger the bust is at its fullest point than at the underbust, so a ‘D’ cup increases in volume as the associated band size increases.

Many women are also shocked to learn that the bra-alphabet doesn’t stop with Ds, nor are Ds or DDs or anything else synonymous with ‘huge/fake/disproportionate’ boobs. There are some countries where things are a lot better regarding choices the customer has and how informed they can be, but in most of the world you aren’t even able to try on sizes above a D cup or below a 32 band size. It’s sort of a catch 22 where stores don’t stock extended sizes (and many manufacturers don’t make extended sizes) because there is a perceived lack of consumer interest, while at the same time, consumers don’t even know that there are other and better options.

While I now do most of my lingerie shopping online, and the selection is amazing, I would never have had the courage to buy online without the chance to try on a bra in my size first, and I would never have even thought of doing that without the wonderful gals of A Bra That Fits. In the end, the lingerie industry is lacking both informed customers as well as stores and manufacturers who want to inform them accurately.

Finding out my best-fitted bra size was not 36D but rather 32G made me appreciate lingerie much more, and in the few years I have been wearing my new size I have bought more lingerie than in all the years before that combined. The size of my body didn’t actually change, but a better fit can make a world of difference. There’s nothing like discovering how comfortable and sexy you can feel in lingerie to make you want to wear more of it. The number and the letter aren’t what ultimately matter, the way you feel in the lingerie is the real key.

Finally, as the winner of our competition is there any advice you can give to future entrants and other aspiring lingerie designers?

As the Estonian saying goes, a brave beginning is half the victory. Be bold and original and don’t be afraid to think out of the box!


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