Ironically enough, our favorite “free the nipple” crusader is quickly becoming the queen of lingerie. In the past, Kendall Jenner has had stints at Calvin Klein and Victoria’s Secret showing off her skivvies. Now, the model stars in La Perla's latest campaign for both its lingerie and recently launched ready-to-wear. Since its origins in 1954, the Bologna-based brand has focused its branding highly on sexual appeal; under new direction, though, it's straying from the typical vibe most intimates ads have and promoting the fact that sexuality and strength are not mutually exclusive — and that lingerie can be unapologetically feminist.
Julia Haart was appointed creative director of La Perla in August and is already making big optic changes in how the brand is perceived. For the spring '17 campaign, she cast Jenner alongside models Isabeli Fontana and Liu Wen — women that she believes epitomize modernity.
"I approached the collection with a deep connection to the brand's founder," she tells Refinery29. "Ada Masotti designed lingerie with attention to how women wanted to feel: sensual, beautiful, and comfortable with themselves." Haart says that her role has been to merge these principles with the needs and desires of the strong, empowered, independent women of today.
One word that encapsulates Haart's mission with her inaugural collection for La Perla is liberation. "I feel strongly that curves are intrinsic to feminine identity and clothes must begin with an understanding of women's bodies," she explains, especially in the context of introducing ready-to-wear with the sensibility of a traditional lingerie brand. "My clothes embrace the body like perfectly fitted lingerie, with fabrics that feel as good on the inside as they look outside. The pieces can be worn by all women on all occasions, which, in my opinion, is liberating."
This foray into feminism comes at an especially poignant time, as voters in the U.S. process the results of the presidential election. Haart isn't totally unaware of that, either. "We [women] stand together, we will continue to stand together," she rationalized. "We will continue to break boundaries and we will get there together."
Coincidentally, La Perla drew from some familiar symbolism when translating the ideas of liberation and feminism into the collection's imagery, which was shot by Steven Klein. "The shattered glass, for example, speaks to the glass ceiling, a metaphor coined by feminists in reference to barriers in the careers of high-achieving women." Hm, sound familiar? Jenner's involvement seems like a natural fit, since the model announced she was with "her her her her."
Interestingly enough, lingerie has been one apparel category that has married message with artistry when it comes to imagery (for example, what we've seen Lonely Lingerie do with its editorials). "Lingerie is the most intimate of clothing, worn by a woman close against her skin, for her and her alone," Haart noted. Its inherently personal nature gives its wearer complete ownership of it — something the designer thinks can be empowering. With La Perla, Haart is trying to expand that effect lingerie can have on a wardrobe to the rest of the closet.
"I feel passionately that women should not be afraid to embrace their feminine identity and simultaneously function within society as a strong, bold, independent woman," she explained. "We can have both, which I feel sometimes we forget. There is no compromise here, I want that to be clear."
Ahead, check out all of Jenner's appearances in La Perla's spring '17 campaign.