Foxtrot Molly: Show-Stopping Lingerie Inspired by History
By ESTELLE PULESTON
One of the most spectacular lingerie collections to grace my Instagram feed lately has been the new Anna launch by Foxtrot Molly, a handmade, London-based brand by Laura Gillham. Made from luscious, deep-blue silk overlaid with golden lace, and adorned with plenty of intricate details such as hand-sewn roses, it’s one of the most opulent and creative collections I’ve seen this year.
Gillham hasn’t always been a lingerie designer. Although captivated by Tudor clothing from a young age, she didn’t feel that fashion was quite the right career choice for her. Her parallel passions for history and the performing arts led her into the world of theatre costuming instead, where she spent 13 years learning a great deal about historical fashions through her work for opera and ballet.
She also learned plenty about what was worn under those fashions, and how to make it. “You make everything in costume including the historical underwear…,” she recalls, “I was always given the little fiddly, detailed jobs because that was what I was good at – a hint of what was to come with lingerie!”
Eventually, Gillham decided it was time for a change from theatre’s antisocial hours and that’s when Foxtrot Molly was born, a brand she taglined “modern lingerie with a vintage flair”. While her inspiration comes from all sorts of (highly specific!) places, there’s frequently a historical twist to it; the Anna collection was inspired by a neckline drawn by 16th century portraitist Holbein for example, and the earlier Olenska collection by a red dress worn by Michelle Pfeiffer in The Age of Innocence, which is set in the 19th century.
From these initial sources of inspiration, she goes on to consider colors and draw on various classical garments to slowly build out a final look. One of the most exciting parts, she says, is the challenge of getting her influences to come across clearly in such small pieces of fabric. Her designs range from boned stays, puffy sleeve accessories, and camisoles inspired antique corset covers, through to much more modern-looking pieces such as an elastic harness “inspired by the neckline and binding seen in renaissance portraiture” or a sheer bralette inspired by the crisp whiteness and ribbon details seen in Edwardian underpinnings.
Gillham does practically everything herself – designing, patterning, sampling, fit testing, and all of the admin that goes into running a business too – which means that each new collection takes roughly one year to get ready. But it’s a job that she finds really fulfilling, and she’s already busy working on her next range which will be loosely based on the flowers planted at the Wimbledon tennis championships.
Depending on the item, current Foxtrot Molly designs are available to order in US sizes 2-20 or XS-XXL, with custom sizing available on request. Custom colors are also an option. Pieces are generally made to order, with prices running from £13 (approx. $14) for the smallest of accessories, up to £370 (approx. $400) for the new Anna stays.