It’s 8pm at La Perla’s new boutique in Takashimaya Shopping Centre. Invited guests huddle together with the press in front of the photowall, in anticipation of the celebrity gracing the grand opening.
The VIP they are waiting for is not a woman. Instead, Chinese actor Hu Bing strides into the welcoming arms of Chiara Scaglia, CEO of La Perla Asia-Pacific, amid a flurry of flashing camera lights. Recently named global ambassador of La Perla Men’s, the 46-year-old looks every inch the suave heart-throb. The sophisticated all-black ensemble he sports, of course, comes from the Italian label better known for its luxury lingerie.
Little is known about La Perla’s extension into menswear, which premiered as long as 32 years ago in 1985. Its development into a full-fledged ready-to-wear line, however, started only three years ago, shares Scaglia in an interview. The first ready-to-wear collection was oriented around pyjama dressing, so there were casual pieces you can wear out. Today, it has gone beyond T-shirts of pure Egyptian cotton that are spruce in bed or boardroom, to the tailored suits that promise comfort and polish even after a 12-hour flight.
And for the first time, menswear has been made available in Singapore, at La Perla’s other new store at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands. As fans may know, the company kept to lacy intimates, nightwear and beachwear in its former store at Takashimaya Shopping Centre.
Much has changed since. A new incarnation marks its return to the mall in the heart of Singapore’s shopping belt. Flaunting the global store concept by renowned Italian architect Roberto Baciocchi (the man behind Prada and Miu Miu’s retail interiors), it features the same iconic arch as other La Perla stores in Milan, Paris, London and around the world, as well as elements that draw on great Italian architecture, such as white marble and gold metal trims.
Spanning 182sqm, it houses an extensive La Perla universe that includes an accessories range. In addition to bags and shoes, there’s a super-chic line-up of sunglasses by luxury eyewear brand Linda Farrow, a collaborator since 2016. Its half-frame shape is a witty adaptation of the balconette brassiere.
But the strongest statement comes from ready-to-wear for women, launched for Spring/Summer 2017, with Julia Haart’s appointment as creative director. The shoe designer with her eponymous label started working with La Perla in 2015 creating accessories, before expanding her role to cover ready-to-wear a year later.
Scaglia explains that what makes Haart’s shoes so special is the Cloud 9 technology, which fits a revolutionary cooling gel into the footwear, hence allowing your soles to absorb the pressure in hours of wear. “It’s like walking on a cushion, rather than something hard and stiff,” she describes.
“She also ingeniously ‘lowers’ the arch — it appears as if you’re on 10-cm heels, but your feet is actually placed at the more comfortable height of 8cm.”
You can expect such clever technology and innovation in apparel too, thanks to Haart’s approach to help women feel sensual, beautiful and comfortable with themselves.
This renews the spirit of Bolognese founder Ada Masotti. Trained in corsetry, she gained the moniker “Golden Scissors” as her expertise constantly redefined how lingerie was perceived and worn. Always responding to the women of the times, she applied her knowledge of the female form to beachwear in 1965. When 70s fashion called for freedom in movement, she introduced the triangular brassiere in silk jersey and other pieces in stretch lace.
For Haart’s debut ready-to-wear collection for women, she interprets her vision as a journey of liberation. Look closer at the exuberant floral prints and you’ll discover maps hidden among their petals, rendered on body-hugging jackets, high-waisted tailored shorts, vests and bralettes in soft bi-stretch fabric that enhances curves without uncomfortable wiring. The star of the collection? It has to be the tailored Corset Jacket, which comes with in-built support cups so you can wear it sans additional brassiere.
Come Autumn/Winter 2017, Haart incorporates built-in support into more items: Shirts, dresses, T-shirts and even delicate tank tops. While the jacket is recast in leather and lined in silk satin, the collection also marries traditional Leavers lace with the flexibility of stretch fibres to fit and move with the contours of the body.
Crafted to complement the well-dressed La Perla woman, the men’s collection comprises pieces to suit every occasion. “Like womenswear, our menswear prioritises comfort, elegance, and practicality. All the materials we use are endowed with stretch, wrinkle-resistance, and shape-recovery qualities,” Scaglia adds.
Amid the rise of celebrities decked in barely-there numbers on the red carpet, it’s mind-changing to see La Perla’s evolution deftly address the needs of the global citizen, all without diluting the brand’s DNA.