You may have been intrigued by the small pop of erotica on an acquaintance’s otherwise unassuming white tee, terribly impressed but too shy to vocalise your admiration; or perhaps your 'ORGASM' scarf is the pride and joy of your wardrobe – you wore it out just yesterday, in fact, with a Christopher Kane 'More Joy' T-shirt and a PVC miniskirt. More likely though, your relationship with Carne Bollente, the 5-year-old French label anchored in sex positivity, is through social media.
"It started as a stupid joke," explain the founding trio, Hijiri Endo, Théodore Famery and Agoston Palinko. The name, which translates from the Italian as 'boiled meat' – simultaneously sexy and funny, they say – is a reference to the legendary porn movie The Rise of the Roman Empress (Carne Bollente is the film's original title). "We were looking for a name that could embody our sexual appetite, and this was stupid enough. Also our idol Cicciolina is the lead actress in the movie, and she embodies for us a positive and uninhibited vision of sexuality."
Beyond its Insta- and millennial-friendly aesthetics, a sex positive attitude is at the heart of Carne Bollente. "The subject is often seen as taboo or even negative, but we believe that talking about sex and sexuality should be more open and free. We think this is our job, to offer a simpler and more positive vision of clichés, archetypes and ideas of sex." As they explain over email: "Sex really is a huge subject and we are aware that there are still new ways and means of expression to explore. Also, sex and humour are rarely topics seen together; it's a shame and that's why we try to laugh about sex too."
Focusing initially on T-shirts – "the most universal garment and one of the best media for starting in fashion" – the founders joke that they "got cold" and expanded the label’s offering to include hoodies, jackets and accessories. Moreover, what began as a bit of fun has evolved into something more significant; this Pride post illustrates how the brand's garments can inspire meaningful conversation. "When we saw this, we were so touched, discovering we could make a great impact. Instagram is amazing for this, communicating to our fans directly."
For Endo, the business has most recently veered towards the personal, with his extended family modelling SS19 pieces for a project with Japanese site, Girl Houyhnhnm. "They actually love what we do!" he clarifies, when asked what his parents think of the label's designs. "At the beginning they didn’t take it seriously, thought it was a silly little project. Since we’ve been represented at famous stores, they started to feel a bit...proud? Especially when we collaborated with Undercover, my older brother and cousins were super excited. But I don’t think my 93-year-old grandma understands our illustrations."