When Cristina Aielli participated in the annual Oxford Conference of Corsetry last year, the young Italian designer’s work quickly went viral. The conference is the only event of it’s kind worldwide. Not merely a trade show, the event sees lingerie and corset couturiers exhibit what is, very literally, some of the most exquisite intimate apparel and corsetry on the planet. To stand out at such an event is no small feat, and Aielli’s work is definitely deserving of the attention.
To describe my first experience seeing Cristina Aielli’s work, you’re going to have to believe me that what I’m about to say is no exaggeration. I cried. I couldn’t breathe, my heart went jittery and tears formed in my eyes. It was that beautiful to me. It was the lingerie equivalent of the first time I saw my favorite sculpture in the Louvre, or the first time I read Shakespeare. As someone who feels like their whole life purpose has been a search for beauty, in any and every form, I was overwhelmed. Especially, to see it at such a level in lingerie.
I’ve had the image of Aielli’s ‘Flora’ set saved on my phone for over a year, so it was with much delight to see her E-store go live a couple of weeks ago. In addition to ‘Flora’, other pieces, that I have watched slowly filter in via the Cristina Aielli Instagram account, such as the ‘Ophelia’ babydoll (also screenshot and given permanent residence in my camera roll), are now available to order.
But how do I describe – and I realize how ridiculous it may sound to some – what underwear that is so beautiful it brought me to tears, looks like? Well, it is wearable art. It is the lingerie equivalent of haute couture – the top tier of fashion that gets its own week, only in Paris, once a year, and is indisputably the most opulent, made-to-measure apparel in the world.
With similar custom sizing and quality, this lingerie consists of the same kind of intricate detail and innovation. Many of Cristina Aielli’s designs feature the popular ‘nude illusion’ technique that is ubiquitous in evening and underwear right now, with a higher level of craftsmanship. Fine lace on skin tone tulle (Aielli offers both light and dark options), mean flowers appear to float on the body. With the style that started it all, ‘Flora’, sumptuous velvet and microdot mesh also fill out the design.
The previously mentioned ‘Ophelia’ is a babydoll style from the label’s ‘Ivory Moon’ collection, which would make the most divine honeymoon lingerie for brides with exceptional taste and desire for uncompromising quality. ‘Ophelia’ features rebrodè lace embraces the ribcage, a chantilly lace skirt and attached garter belt. Also from ‘The Ivory Moon’ is my personal favorite Cristina Aielli design, ‘Despina’. Constructed from the same fabrics as ‘Ophelia’ but in a g-string, suspender belt and retro-referencing overwire bra.
Other stand-out styles include ‘Heather’, which is more risqué, yet visually similar to ‘Flora’ -a little more ‘nude’ looking and with extra gold O-ring details for a harder edge- and ‘Ariel’, which is a bralette and skirt-like French knicker made of silk tulle and Italian Chantilly lace.
Cristina’s Aielli’s work is, without a doubt, exceptional. I’d even go so far as to say it is the most beautiful lingerie in the world. At prices around the $1000 mark they are definitely investment or special occasion pieces for most of us. But what price you can put on beauty that truly moves you? For me- nothing. Not content to have Aielli’s lingerie exist on a mere wishlist for life, I’ve resolved that one day, I will own one of these masterpieces. I’m sure now, you have too.