Evgenia is an independent label that has been steadily gaining traction the over the past five years. Initially piquing the interest of lingerie lovers under the name Honey Cooler Handmade, designer Stephanie Bodnar rebranded after completing her Designer in Residence program at San Francisco’s prestigious Fashion Incubator at Macy’s Union Square. Along with the name change was a clear refinement of the Evgenia style.
Bodnar’s designs stand out for various reasons and in ways that are unique within the lingerie market. For example, no Evgenia style is made with stretch fabric, the usual lingerie staple. Instead, designs rely on Bodnar’s impeccable bias cuts and fitting and draping techniques. This gives the garments a quality that is usually only found in vintage pieces, a sort of artisan construction. As strange as it may sound to some to have undergarments with zero stretch, it works.
It’s this level of quality in Eugenia pieces that has got lingerie aficionados going back for more. In a retail climate still transferring to online at an exponential rate, the downside of this is the almost non-existence of hands-on interaction with a garment before purchase. We’ve all had the experience of buying something online, just to have it arrive and fail to come even close to our expectations. And the reverse of this is also true – I long loved Evgenia designs from a visual point of view, but it wasn’t until I touched them, put them on body that I could feel the quality that not only justified the retail prices, but made them seem extremely reasonable compared to others at the same price point.
Evgenia is very much known for its strong 1930s influence, not just because of those exceptional bias cuts, but from styles, such as bed jackets, half slips and their signature Kestos-style bralette – the bra, invented in 1925 that was the first to have to individual cups, separating the breasts and featuring a low wraparound back strap. They are pieces, unlike a lot of labels who make similar claims, that truly are able to be worn as outerwear (without people thinking you just forgot to get dressed that day). The cowl-neck, lace waist slip in particular makes a stunning cocktail dress.
For Fall/Winter 2016/2017, the ‘Rebelle’ collection includes these signature styles in season appropriate updates. A palette of red and black is the focus, with Evgenia’s summer silk replaced with luxurious velvet and tonal sheers with heart and star print. The result is a moodily romantic exercise in underwear – the sort of pieces you can wear just as easily sipping a glass of Merlot in your bedroom as you can at a bar.