‘It’s important because women are consumers, and they come in all sizes and shapes and ethnic backgrounds’, muses Sarah Jessica Parker just hours before Intimissimi’s runway show of which she is the star guest. At age 53 with three children still at home, a long and successful acting career under her belt, a blossoming publishing imprint and production company to run, she’s taken on a new mantel, the face of the Italian lingerie label. Her counterpart? The 32-year-old, mother-of-one, Irina Shayk.
In her latest role, Parker emulates her most famous alter-ego, Carrie Bradshaw, as she sashays around Manhattan wearing a pair of silken pyjamas with Intimissimi’s black balconette bra peeking through. Ignoring the shocked response of her elderly neighbour she skips through the streets until she arrives at a red carpet, swishing her hair and smiling knowingly. In the 29 seconds it takes the advert to play, Parker and Intimissimi create a compelling case for lingerie advertising to be more than pictures of sexy writhing women.
Within the lingerie industry, relatability is now a valuable commodity. ‘I think brands are smart about wanting to reach all of us, I think it’s fantastic’, says Sarah, ‘I know who I am, and how old I am’.
A little over two decades ago Intimissimi was founded in Verona, a city so romantic it inspired Romeo and Juliet and yet so vibrant it’s home to the multi-national Calzedonia group, itself a powerful player in the swimwear and hosiery industry. They are calling their latest campaign: ‘A new interpretation of seduction’.
Freedom and choice are the buzzwords of the autumn winter 2018 collection. For Parker, she’s clear in her mind about what they mean. For her, freedom is about having the space to make choices, ‘I think freedom is liberty and making choices about how you are in the world’, later she adds, ‘I just make choices that feel like me, I try not to let anybody outside influence or affect my choices.’ However, Parker is quick to acknowledge the privilege attached to this with a caveat. ‘I have the resources I need to support my professional choices’.
This is something, Shayk also relates to, ‘There is nobody shaming anymore and I think we are moving towards freedom, if a woman wants to wear a crop top and feel sexy she should, but I feel like there are so many ways to express sexuality and women’s freedom’.
One thing the two campaign stars share is motherhood. For both this life-altering and affirming experience hasn’t affected their relationship with lingerie. Parker - who jokes that there ‘is a fuzzy line between characters I’ve played, obviously Carrie Bradshaw, and myself’ like their shared love underwear as outerwear – has been integrating lingerie into her day-to-day ensembles for over twenty years. She loved how Patricia Field (Sex and the City's stylist) used it's evocative power when creating Carrie's sartorial personality and says she feels ‘ liberated that it is back [in fashion]. But, just for me, it never left so I feel delighted’.
Likewise, when asked how motherhood has changed her relationship with lingerie Irina adamantly said, ‘I don’t think motherhood should change anything and it doesn’t change anything. You just have to love your body no matter how you look and you just need to find self-confidence even if it changes.’
It’s no coincidence that this recalibration of the lingerie industry is coming from Intimissimi. In 2016 the company was valued at €2.128bn (£) with 91 per cent of its employees' women. And, of that, the vast majority (67 per cent) are under 30-years-old. Knowingly championing a diverse age range of women reflects the millennial mindset that’s active behind the scenes at the Verona HQ.