The Lake & Stars: Dangerously Beautiful Underpinnings For Unpredictable Girls

The Lake & Stars

The fact that The Lake & Stars are the first ever lingerie designers to win an award from the prestigious Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation tells you something about their remarkable skill & vision. Maayan Zilberman & Nikki Dekker are a truly unique design duo, & on Friday afternoon, they put on a show at the Chelsea Piers which had people snaking down corridors & around corners in anticipation.

From the program:For their Fall 2011 collection, The Lake & Stars’ designers Maayan Zilberman & Nikki Dekker approach lingerie with a 1970’s American interpretation of Italian Neo-Classicism. They look to the Italian architecture firm Superstudio, & their manifestos pertaining to surface, symbolism, & function (in “Life Without Objects”), borrowing motifs from their historic ‘Continuous Monument Project’. A (would-be) futuristic vision of interiors is stripped & dramatized as metaphor, while structural focus is on materials & cutting-edge technologies. Textures mimicking building & sculpture materials, empty sets from Twin Peaks, custom tetiles by artist Francesca DiMattio, & spray painted hand-beaded tulle all appear alongside printed lace, “cracked” glass detailing, broken grids, & The Lake & Stars signature grosgrain elastics & hardware.

Inside the studio, girls stood in groups of five on raised platforms which had been painted with black & white zig-zags. Guests were able to see what The Lake & Stars’ lingerie looks like on different types of bodies–the casting was brilliant, with a mix of sample-size models & friends of the designers.

The Lake & StarsPhotos via

You might think that models standing around in their underwear would feel uncomfortable–& clearly that’s something Nikki & Maayan considered. Beside each platform was a “guard” in uniform, each with a tongue-in-cheek name-tag. “Hugh Jass” stood watch over one group of girls, while “Phil Mabut” manned another. It brought a fantastic sense of humour & a dose of surreality to the situation, while still ensuring the models felt at ease.

In fact, when The Lake & Stars staged peep shows at The Waldorf Hotel in Vancouver, Maayan was quoted as saying,

When I spoke with the owners of the Waldorf Hotel, we talked about doing an event for New Year’s Eve and the peep shows were the perfect way to showcase women in lingerie-clad situations without forcing them to coexist with clothed onlookers. My concern with still-arrangements is always that the models/women feel comfortable being barely clothed, and that they feel totally confident. Thomas Anselmi’s idea to do the peep shows as a means of performance rather than traditional “tease” shows is what drew me to this project. Taking the audience into a new time and place is what makes the garments transcend the typical space of “boudoir” or “burlesque,” which Nikki and I are generally opposed to. (Source)

I kind of love her for that.

I told Maayan & Nikki that I adored the fact that they had drawn on Twin Peaks for inspiration. They laughed. “Do you recognise the floors?!”, Maayan asked. Any fan of David Lynch would have–& these women are clearly admirers of his. In fact, when we were talking, Maayan drew attention to the fact that they like to “play off that Muholland Drive kind of thing… You know, the brunette & the blonde.”

The Lake & StarsMaayan & Nikki.

Their Fall 2011 presentation was a wonderful embrace of vintage shapes–like high-waist briefs, triangle bras & balconette merrywidows–matched with delicious fabrics, like crushed velvet, silk jersey & printed lace. Among the spray-painted tulle & hand-painted shoes by Francesca DiMattio, the models wore shocking coral pouts.

But you wouldn’t expect anything run-of-the-mill from these girls. Maayan’s thesis show at the School of Visual Arts was a room decorated as a funeral parlour, with baking smells piped in, wafting from grates in the walls. (Cake is still something she is obsessed with–check out her Wave Cake blog for proof!) Nikki says she is inspired by embroidery of ostriches kissing, charms of flying fish & obscure vintage pieces. As you can imagine, their lookbooks are fantastic.

Maayan & Nikki are clearly focussed on their goal–that of bridging the gap between “special occasion” & “comfy” underthings. I am extremely fond of these quotes from this great interview:

Maayan: One of the reasons we created The Lake and Stars was to shift this attitude of “special occasion” and “comfy” and to bridge the gap a little more. We wanted to make bras and underwear and everything in between that our peers would feel comfortable wearing day or night and incorporate into their personal sense of style. Much like the evolution of shoes, bags and other accessories, we viewed lingerie as another accessory that should change in style as you change your mood. It should be a reflection of who you are and how you feel about yourself.

Nikki: It’s pretty remarkable what putting on beautiful underwear can do to a woman’s mood even under a t-shirt. It’s kind of like a good lipstick that way: it’s something that’s easy to do everyday, you just need to find the right fit and get into the habit.

The Lake & Stars

Initially united by their mutual love of wearing swimsuits as lingerie, The Lake & Stars go out of their way to be different, & told Elle that they tried hard not to go the vintage, boudoir, sex kitten route that it seems so many lingerie brands are, as they say, “forced to take”.

Regardless, their collection is still very sexy. The sensuality of their garments is unpredictable, almost dangerous. If a girl undressed in front of you to reveal The Lake & Stars underpinnings, no one would blame you for being nervous–but still excited–about what might happen. It would be no ordinary night.