France lingerie ambassador makes brief incursion into UK market

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London, June 6 (ANI): A woman, who is France's ambassador in Britain for lingerie, has taken up a campaign bankrolled by the Sarkozy Government, to get British women into French underwear.

Ulyana Sukach, chargée de projets for La Fédération de la Maille et de la Lingerie, had no qualms about discussing her underwear.

"My lingerie today is by Princesse tam.tam," Times Online quoted her as revealing.

Waving a placard emblazoned with the tricolour brassiere logo of the federation, a squadron of lingerie models in ensembles by eight of France's leading brands toured London, handing out 800 goody bags.

"What's all this for?" one suspicious woman outside Harvey Nichols asked.

To which Sukach replied: "All we want is for you to admire French lingerie - and that is all."

British lingerie experts are already admirers of French products, as shown in the federation's meticulous 260-page underwear catalogue, Etude Lingerie.

"French underwear is chic and exquisite and the fit is incredible. It is not overtly provocative, though - this is not Ann Summers," Nicky Clayton, creative director for Rigby and Peller, said.

Nicholas Engert, who distributes brands including Chantelle, the French market leader, said: "There has been a slow realisation that Italian lingerie doesn't fit but French lingerie does.

"The French understand cup size, and the size run is much larger. At the end of the day the French make the best lingerie in the world," he added.

Sukach confesses to admiring Stella McCartney and Elle Macpherson's designs, then visibly blanches at the mere mention of Victoria's Secret.

"That is not our competition. French lingerie is the very best quality," she said.

Marks and Spencer is Britain's lingerie seller in chief, but when they were alerted to Sukach's guerrilla incursion a spokeswoman remained unruffled.

"One in three UK women wear our lingerie. We sell more than 50 million pairs of knickers and 20 million bras every year. Whether it's a boned lace corset or a satin slip, British women love their lingerie," she said.

Yet even Marks and Spencer could not deny that lingerie is an art form created and dominated by the French.

Brassieres (a French invention) superseded corsetry as a direct result of the global mania for Coco Chanel's flapperish New Look.

Aubade, one of the brands represented by Sukach's federation this week, went on to pioneer the strapless bra. Empreinte has been specialising in brassieres exclusively for larger sizes since 1946.

And Princesse tam.tam, the brand supporting Sukach herself, is the most chic of all lingerie lines among affluent younger consumers.

"When it started, the Princesse brand was very pretty, very innocent, and it's since become a little more edgy, more grown up. It's a concept brand really," Lucy Osborne, the company's UK agent, said.

"It can be worn as outerwear, and we like that your nipples might be poking out, or that your top is revealing, or that you might be wearing a sexy body under gym pants," she stated.

Sukach declared herself satisfied with 2010's assault on the British market.

"It is only an idea at the moment," said the French lingerie ambassador over a glass of champagne.

"But for next year we are thinking of a 'Lingerie Safari'. What do you think of that?" she added. (ANI)

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