Q&A: Ari of Ari Dein Lingerie

A former ballerina and costume designer, Ari Dein’s femininity and her attention to detail combine to create a lingerie line that is not only subtly sexy, but also architecturally brilliant. Growing up well connected to Manhattan’s top hotel, The Waldorf Astoria, it’s no surprise that Ari turned to boutique hotels and furniture for inspiration. Showcasing luxurious lines and ample fabric, her romantic lingerie is getting tons of media praise for it’s old-world glamour. Ari Dein took time from her busy day to tell Lady Lux about her new line and how ballerina tutus shaped her eye for design.

Lady Lux: How long has Ari Dein been around?
Ari Dein: I incorporated the brand and company last October and started designing this particular collection last summer. So…not even a year.

LL: How’d you start designing lingerie?
AD: I studied abroad in Florence for fashion design. In color rendering or fashion illustration classes, we would have to know how to render different silks and laces. I would come up with these really elaborate get-ups. My teachers told me, “You’re going to be a lingerie designer.” They knew before I did.

LL: What do you like about designing lingerie?
AD: The psychology of lingerie really appeals to me because I feel women are forever fitting themselves into a smaller size. Lingerie is never about being a sample size. It’s meant to exalt your own figure. Women say, “They feel better naked than in clothes.”

LL: What’s your favorite part?
AD: As a designer, I’d say I’m drawn to the details. I’m not really interested in a jacket without a cool lining, or some hidden pocket, or secret. That goes back to my interest in costume design. I used to be a ballet dancer. I have a lot of influence from Karinska who designed a lot of costumes for Balanchine at the New York City Ballet. She used to hide trinkets and lockets inside tutus. I love that idea because you don’t really see a tutu from the fourth tier. It’s something really only the wearer is aware of. It’s very intimate.

LL: How did your ballerina past influence your fashion?
AD: I think that a segway for me in fashion design was definitely tutu construction. I used to help out with a lot of the costumes for performances. The way the tutus are made by hand… it’s not something you see in ready to wear today at all. I think that’s why it’s so important to me to have hand-finished touches on the garments themselves. I’m not using a lot of heavy boning or anything that’s body constricting, but a lot of garments are cut in a similar way to corsetry. They evoke a style reminiscent to corsets without being restrictive. That’s definitely a costume influence.

LL: How did you develop your aesthetic?
AD: My personal style really developed living in Europe. I got involved with a group of girlfriends that were very well heeled and very chic. I had been at a very preppy college in central Pennsylvania. They really turned me around. I think my influences as a designer are a lot less to be found in the fashion industry, and more to be found in fine art and culture. I think styles become more timeless that way and less trendy.

LL: Within fine arts and culture, what inspires you?
AD: I would say architecture and furniture design… especially the concept of the boutique hotel and boutique hotel living. I get really inspired by hotels in Manhattan like Gramercy Park and The Bowery Hotel. I have a personal family history with the Waldorf and we used to be involved in the fur industry. My grandmother actually lived at the Waldorf for a while, and we had a showroom there for fur. The concept takes hotel living, art deco and art nouveu motifs, and incorporates them into the collection.

LL: What details do you steal from architecture and furniture?
AD: The lines…even the structure of the garments. I don’t know if this answers the question…but there’s definitely no shortage of fabric. I didn’t try to scrimp. There are a lot of really luscious architectural details in the garments themselves, like box pleats or hoods made from yards of fabric.

LL: Has the response to your line surprised you?
AD: Yeah, just the fact that it was so well received (she laughs). The whole thing is a shock. You do what you do because you love it and it’s beautiful to you, but to be embraced by the lingerie industry is really exciting. To know that my niche thinks I’m a welcome addition… and that people are excited for me to be stocked in their stores…it’s really amazing.

LL: Are you hitting stores?
AD: I’m stocking several stores all the way from Portland to London. People can also place personal orders with me.

LL: Where do you see your brand going?
AD: I definitely look at this in terms of my career for the rest of my life. I might be a new designer but I’m trying to hold up my family name. I’m not going anywhere. I would just love to put it in retail accounts all over the world where it’s going to do the best and where people really understand the concept behind it. I’m really excited to keep going and keep showing it.

To stay intimate with Ari Dein’s lingerie line, visit her Web site at AriDein.com.

Tagged in: lux exclusives, new york city, lingerie, florence, waldorf astoria, ari dein, the bowery hotel, gramercy park hotel,

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