When I initially discovered the brand Evgenia Lingerie, my first thought was luxury. The designer behind the brand, Stephanie Bodnar, has an exquisite eye for gorgeous, luxe fabrics. Her pieces wink at vintage undergarments, from bed jackets to tap shorts, but she brings a unique modern flair to her designs.
You may have seen Evgenia Lingerie featured in a great article in Cosmopolitan about what lingerie advertisements would look like if they were realistic (hint: it’s less like Victoria’s Secret ‘angels’ sprawled in uncomfortable, oversexualized positions and more like a diverse group of ladies in lovely, comfortable fabrics). Or maybe you saw the Rebelle Rouge bralette and thong and the Janus tap shorts in an article in Vogue.
I discovered the brand on Instagram, and I was immediately hooked. It was right around the time the brand released its Fall/Winter 2015/16 Tempest Collection, and I was incredibly moved upon seeing photos of those pieces against the backdrop of a stormy sea. This lingerie wasn’t just clothing – this was art.
The Fall 2016/Winter 2017 Rebelle Collection sealed the deal for me. With its blood-red velvet hearts against barely-there sheer fabric, this collection blew me away. Since then, I’ve been closely following Evgenia Lingerie and happily poring over new releases.
Eager to learn more about this stunning brand and its glorious designs, I interviewed Stephanie and learn more about her inspiration.
Tell us a bit about your journey to Evgenia Lingerie.
STEPHANIE: I started Evgenia as Honey Cooler Handmade back in 2011. At the time, I made all one-of-a-kind lingerie pieces, using vintage laces and silks. I started off with the Deco Cami and gradually added pieces to the range. Since I was only making one-offs, it was a great opportunity to test colours, styles and sizes to see what people responded to at craft fairs and on Etsy.
When I got accepted to the Fashion Incubator of San Francisco a few years ago, I rebranded my line as Evgenia and focused on fully reproducible collections. I still sew everything myself and do all the work behind the scenes of the line.
You’ve said that your designs are vintage-inspired. How has vintage fashion impacted your brand? Where else do you find inspiration for your designs?
I absolutely adore vintage lingerie. I used to work in a lace shop in Berkeley, where my passion for vintage laces and antique underpinnings was cultivated in a big way. All my pieces possess some inspiration from the past.
For example, the Ribbon Corset is based off the Edwardian ribbon corset style that women commonly wore to bed in the early part of last century. The Tap Shorts are based off a 1930s short silhouette, yet modernised for a cheekier, vampier cut. The insertion lace I use in a lot of my pieces is a painstaking embellishment technique that was common in the Victorian to Art Deco eras.
In addition to finding inspiration in vintage fashion, I also find inspiration in art, ballet, nature, and just about everywhere else!
One of my favourite things about your designs is how elegant and classy the fabrics are, from barely-there sheers to rich velvets and delicate lace. How do you choose your fabrics?
I am pretty dead-set on using silk for the majority of my pieces because the drape is truly unsurpassed. There’s no feeling like that of silk against your skin! Solid fabrics are easy to select, but prints are harder. For the Tempest and Floralia collections I actually designed my own prints with artwork from two talented artists I know, Valerie Santillo and Danielle Zuckerman, respectively.
When I was working on my first collection for Evgenia just after my rebranding, I discovered the starry lace that has become a cornerstone of my lingerie and fell immediately in love. It’s quite luxurious, and there’s nothing quite like it! The laces I use are all French, from the tiny Valenciennes lace I use in my insertion lace details, to the starry and heart-dotted embroidered nets. I have only a handful of companies I work with, and I order from them time and time again.
On a lazy day lounging around the house, what lingerie brand are we likely to find you wearing?
Ever since I had my baby, my lingerie and loungewear has gotten a lot more mellow than it used to be: less frou frou – more comfort. I’m currently living in Serpent & Bow’s lingerie and knickers by Angela Friedman and Sophie Hines, plus the occasional Free People or Natori chemise. I also love my silk Aloe robe from ages ago, my vintage silk kimono and nightgowns, and of course my Catherine D’Lish bunny slippers!
Who is the one person you most would love to see in your designs?
Blake Lively. I’ve heard she doesn’t have a stylist, yet has such an awesome sense of style. It would be an honour to have my pieces as part of her wardrobe.
What’s the hardest part of running a small business?
Anything not on the creative side! Before really plugging along with the nitty gritty parts of my business when I joined the Fashion Incubator, I was no good at bookkeeping or business plans. The program forced me to focus on costing and the potential for production, all things I really wanted to avoid.
Those aspects have gotten much easier, but initially were the most difficult parts of business for me. I still have to really motivate to do my costing and bookkeeping, but I know that they’re essential elements to running a fashion business, and if they’re not taken care of, nothing on the creative end can move forward.
In your opinion, what has been the brand’s biggest accomplishment?
Getting named as one of the best lingerie brands of the year from The Lingerie Addict back in 2016 takes the cake. Having my lingerie in Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and Racked are all up there in terms of accomplishments too!
Where do you see the brand in five years?
I’d love to get back on a normal collection release schedule. With a little baby at home, the reality of free time is quite different than it used to be, and where I used to easily spend 12 hours a day working, I’m lucky if I can work that much in a week.
I’m just starting to get back in the swing of things, and am excited to start opening up my studio space for events. I’d love to do that all this year, but the way things have been going, I’ll be happy if I can get all that settled in a few years! I’d also like to get back to doing trunk shows in New York, but that may be a ways away yet!
Anything else you want readers to know?
Even though my off-the-rack size range is pretty small, I do custom work a lot. If you ever fall outside the measurements on my size chart, or want something with a little tweak for any reason (longer or shorter hem, more or less coverage), let me know! I love working with custom clients.
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