First time I laid my eyes on Fräulein Annie
on Invest In Your Chest
I was absolutely stunned by the sheer beauty of the collection. The colours, the gorgeous high-waisted panties and luxe materials spoke to my inner temptress and I fell in love immediately. It has been a while now but Fräulein Annie stuck in my heart and I’ve returned to her time after time just admiring the stunning styles and the amazingly feminine brand from a far.
Finally today I have the opportunity to present this wonderful lady to you my dear readers, here she is: Fräulein Annie. This brand is founded by the lovely lingerie designer Frauke Nagel who was born in Germany and has been creating her own unique styles in the city of London from 2010. I approached Frauke for an interview to find out what is Fräulein Annie all about and discovered all the passion, love and hard work that has been put into this most special brand. All the pictures are from her current collection and sizes vary between 30-38 A-G (bras and basques) and 8-18 (co-ordinates) depending on the range and bra style.
2COP: How did you come up with the idea of starting your own business in the first place?
Frauke: I was designer and product manager in the lingerie industry for several years when I had to reflect and decide how to proceed with my working life. I was mainly working for large brands and chain stores and needed a new challenge. In my opinion, the market was missing a premium range that thinks of the woman who wears it first and foremost: something not only gorgeously looking but also great to wear and that is figure enhancing. All the premium brands at the time were mostly provocatively sexy and ran up to D cup and not further. Larger cup brands looked rather sensible, less sensual. I was doing an awful lot of fit sessions for other brands at the time and knew that women come in all different shapes and sizes. I thought there needs to be a premium brand that comes in sizes beyond D cups. Likewise panties, there were either the sexy little numbers or the heavy frumpy shapewear pieces in nude and black.
I remember I went bra shopping with a friend of mine who had 3 children, she was a 36DD and could find the bras alright but the skimpy briefs didn’t do anything for her. She needed a high waisted supportive brief to hold in her tummy but there was nothing apart from the traditional awful looking shape wear. The product concept was born, I just had to find the name and brand identity.
2COP: What was the hardest part of launching your very own brand? What about the most fun part?
Frauke: At the beginning, everything is hard because you have no track record and have to convince people that you are serious about this. Retailers didn’t want to know because the brand was new. I had to wait and to further develop my product range. I spent almost a year in fit sessions, it was mad! I was dreaming about bra constructions and was welling over possible solutions. Until my first retailers came back to me happy because their customers loved the product and fit and that they wanted to reorder 🙂
The most fun part was to get inspired and to create the story behind the brand. I was thinking of all the things that I liked and that meant something to me. I was watching films that I remembered from when I was growing up and listened to music whilst I was doing my designs and patterns. In particular chansons by Marlene Dietrich, that’s when Fräulein Annie hit me!
2COP: Who is Fräulein Annie designed for?
Frauke: It’s for all women who like to dress well to feel good. Women who appreciate great quality, attention to detail and who are romantics at heart. It’s to dress for yourself and to get dressed.
2COP: There has been some guessing on how your bras actually fit. What advice would you give when choosing one’s size in Fräulein Annie?
Frauke: Every woman is unique and not every bra fits every woman. Fits vary from brand to brand and even within one brand, you cannot guarantee that you can wear every single style. It depends on the shape and material of the garment. I always compare it with shoes: you have to try before you buy.
The best is always to head to your next store and ask for it. That’s what stores make take on new brands, they want to know that the demand is there. I am saying this because I sometimes get complaints that FA is not available in many stores to try on. It’s up to you to create the demand 🙂
If you order online, just drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
and I’ll lead you to the size you should try. I’ll also tell you if there is a store next to you who stocks us.
What only few know, I run regular events where I advise women on how bras should fit and where to find the correct bra for them. It’s something I feel very passionate about as too many women wear the wrong size. It’s very rewarding to help women to feel good about themselves.
2COP: What was your inspiration for the AW13 collection and which one of the styles is your personal favourite?
Frauke: For AW13, I went back to the roots of my inspiration and the film ‘Cabaret’ with Liza Minelli is definitely part of it. The range ‘Bye Bye mein Herr’ is named after a song of this film. We shot the photos and a video with 3 singers and dancers from London’s West End theatres to model and to perform a gritty, dazzling routine inspired by it.
My favourite style is the Bye Bye Shaping Brief, it holds in the tummy and hips and is very comfortable to wear. The special construction of the fabric prevents the VPL effect. The fabric of this range is super smooth and light despite being a powerful shaping fabric.
2COP: Your website mentions the comfort aspect of lingerie in the “About” section. What does comfort and proper bra fit means to you?
Frauke: Everything! Comfort is often misunderstood as baggy, old worn out cotton bras and panties. That doesn’t do anything for you! The comfort I mean is smooth, soft, silky micro fibre with a high content of stretch. This material hugs your body, holds you in without squashing you. I use cotton in cup and gusset linings. I pay a lot of attention to the inside of the garments making sure that everything is soft and smooth. Comfort also means to wear the correct bra shape and size for your body. (Editors note: Thumbs up for this! I hate it when something beautiful causes itching..)
2COP: How do you choose all the materials, patterns and colours for the collections?
Frauke: I constantly source materials with my suppliers, I just came back from the fair in Paris where I found great materials and inspiration for next years collections. I also design my own embroideries and prints (the high-kicking sailor print of the swimwear for example). For the colours, I follow my gut instinct and draw inspiration from outerwear.
It’s important to focus on what the brand is all about and don’t get sidetracked. I did some storyboards when I started in order to visualise the core values of the brand. It helps.
2COP: What is the most difficult part of creating the perfect bra?
Frauke: Funny, I was asked this question just recently for the new book by Laurie Johnsson ‘The Anatomy of the Bra’. Here’s my reply:
Most challenging is to bring the many aspects and requirements together that need to be considered when designing a bra. I start planning a new design by deciding on the right style and pattern for specific body shapes and sizes.
The material I select needs to meet the specific function of the garment in terms of stretch or non-stretch, weight, modulus etc. We call this ‘fit for purpose’.
Not every bra has the same requirements on its material. This very much depends on the shape and on the sizes you are planning to run. To avoid unnecessary wastage, the fabric, lace or embroidery should be used in the garment in a way that utilizes it most efficiently.
Only when I can tick all these boxes, I can be happy with the concept idea and start developing my new bra.
2COP: You offer several co-ordinate options for each style. What is your favorite panty style to design and/or to wear?
Frauke: My favorite panty styles are the shaping ones. I personally like to wear the shaping brief that ends in the natural waist. But also the waist cinching panty that ends just underneath the bra is very popular. It really depends on women’s body shapes, not every woman can wear every panty, similar to what I said about bras.
2COP: Can you reveal us a bit what is store for Fräulein Annie in the future?
Frauke: Oh yes, I’m working on very light, transparent, non padded bras for the next year. I currently have padded bras mainly for smaller cups and women told me that they like to wear non padded also in A and B cups. I also expand the options for smaller backs. And I’ll do a very romantic bridal range. (Editors note: Yey! I would LOVE to see a brand like this expanding their size range!)
Many thanks to sweet Frauke who is one of the most passionate and genuine people in lingerie scene I have ever talked to! To find her pieces here are the online stores with the largest Fräulein Annie stock and international deliveries!
http://www.largecuplingerie.com/ (Will have some more in stock asap!)