Interview – Larissa King, senior designer, Hanky Panky

  • By The Museum at FIT
  • In Interview
  • On 14 Aug | '2014
  • permalink

This week we bring you an interview with Larissa King, senior designer at Hanky Panky. In addition to designing lingerie for Hanky Panky (since 2003), Larissa enjoys design, cooking, vintage lingerie, 60s soul, and fashion history. You can also find her penning blog posts on Hanky Panky’s blog – Life, Love & Lace. If you haven’t been to MFIT to see Exposed yet, this L.A.M.B. x Hanky Panky “Lambie Camo” ensemble is on view right now.

L.A.M.B x Hanky Panky / Lambie Camo Retro Cropped Cami and Lambie Camo Retro Thong Stretch lace, Fall 2014, USA | Photo by Eileen Costa copyright MFIT

L.A.M.B x Hanky Panky / Lambie Camo Retro Cropped Cami and Lambie Camo Retro Thong Stretch lace, Fall 2014, USA | Photo by Eileen Costa © MFIT

– What has been inspiring you lately?

LK: I’ve been feeling very inspired by both activewear and dancewear. Like lingerie, they have to fit and move with the body in a very intimate way.

– How does that inspiration translate into your designs for Hanky Panky?

LK: I love mixing soft, feminine fabrics like laces and meshes with sportier silhouettes and finishes. And the color combinations used in these types of garments can also be very inspiring.

– Hanky Panky has an incredible following. Are there any historical facts about the brand that fans may not know?

LK: Oh, where to begin? Many of our fans are surprised to learn how long Hanky Panky has been in business—since 1977, and that we’ve been manufacturing in NYC since then.

I just love the story of how the company started—Gale Epstein (our Creative Director) made Lida Orzeck (our CEO) a bralette and panty set made from embroidered hankies as a 30th birthday present. Lida loved the set so much that they decided to start selling them. So Gale made a set of samples and Lida brought them in a suitcase to all the big NYC department store buyers (which you could do back then). The orders came in, and Hanky Panky broke even its first year.

Many people are also surprised to learn that our signature stretch lace v-front, v-back thongs were introduced way back in 1986, and that all the laces used in our Signature Lace collection are knitted exclusively for Hanky Panky.

Installation, Exposed: A History of Lingerie, 2014 | copyright Eileen Costa

Installation, Exposed: A History of Lingerie, 2014 | © Eileen Costa

– In Exposed: A History of Lingerie, lingerie is divided into two types: hard and soft. Can you talk about why the idea of soft lingerie is so important to the Hanky Panky brand?

LK: Comfort is one of our core brand values. As a woman-owned and woman-designed brand, we feel very strongly that intimates should feel as good as they look. We have very high standards when it comes to fit and softness of materials.

Our customer comes to us for lingerie that she can put on and then go all day without thinking about. Anything that pokes, pinches, or is too constricting is just not Hanky Panky. We do extensive wear-testing and won’t introduce a new product unless we’re 100% happy with the fit and comfort on a variety of women. Our recently-launched Hanky Panky BARE raw-edge microfiber collection took us two years, 3 weights of fabric, and countless failed prototypes before we had styles we felt were worthy of the Hanky Panky name.

– Hanky Panky has a lingerie set in Exposed from the upcoming collaboration with Gwen Stefani’s fashion line L.A.M.B. As a lingerie designer, what are your dream collaborations (with anyone, living or dead)?

LK: What a hard question! Our collaborations seem to work best with houses/designers that are famous for prints, so I would probably say Celia Birtwell, Zhandra Rhodes, Marimekko, or Liberty of London.

I also bet Claire McCardell would have had a lot of innovative ideas for intimates—I love how she managed to do such creative things within a ready-to-wear framework.

You can find Larissa on Twitter (@HankyPankyLa), and follow Hanky Panky @HankyPankyLtd. Keep following the blog for more lingerie history! We’ll be posting photos, interviews, and excerpts from the book Exposed: A History of Lingerie. Visit the show at MFIT today and share your thoughts on social media with #lingeriehistory


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