Image courtesy of Effleure.

The Secret to This Sexy New Canadian Lingerie? It’s Scented

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For Virginia Marcolin, designing sexy lingerie in the midst of a pandemic with four teenage sons in lockdown is all in a day’s work. Effleure, her line of upscale, scented intimates, was all set to launch in February 2020 when COVID struck. The release date had to be swiftly postponed, and then, this fall, her business finally moved out of the crowded living room and onto shelves.

“My teen boys are mortified that their mother handles intimates all day long!” laughs Marcolin, who often presses her brood—aged 12 to 19—into service by having them hold up a pair of underwear or help package orders. “They’ll protest with ‘Oh, Mom!’ and when their friends come over they’re even more mortified, of course.”

Sexy underwear has always elicited mixed emotion, but Marcolin comes to the table—or lingerie drawer—with serious intent. The Montreal native decamped to the Fashion Institute of Technology for university and then promptly moved to London to serve as lingerie buyer for Selfridges, where she immersed herself in the world of luxury intimate apparel. After a return to Canada, she launched a lingerie website for large bra-cup sizes (“the English have a much larger offering for women”) then settled on licensing Underoos for undershirts. One day when she was browsing her undergarment drawer while simultaneously dabbing on perfume, when an idea took hold.

Image courtesy of Effleure.

“Underwear is so visually appealing and so tactile, but when you throw in a third sense like scent, you can create a very sensual product,” she says. “It’s a much more memorable experience.”

The scented lingerie space had never been explored before outside of adult novelty stores, but drawing on her luxury-and-fashion-buying experience, Marcolin knew the key was to keep things upscale and sophisticated.

It took her a couple of years to find someone skilled in adding natural scent to fabric, but she eventually landed on a U.S. expert. Lavender and French vanilla would become the mainstays of her line, while black coconut and dark chocolate add more playful aromas to round out the stable of offerings that, for now, include culottes, bikinis, and G-strings.

“The whole idea is not to cover a women’s smell but to enhance it,” she says. “These pieces are meant to be elegant, playful, and sensual, but there’s always a level of grace and style—plus, they’re comfortable.”

Image courtesy of Effleure.

Comfort and sexiness usually make for strange bedfellows when it comes to unmentionables: comfortable runs in Granny’s wheelhouse, while sexy has historically veered closer to soft-core porn. But “this is not a sleazy product,” says Marcolin, emphatically. “The fabrics we use are soft on the skin; the fit is amazing; the scents are beautiful, not cheap—they’re very subtle and not synthetic.”

The process of subtly scenting the fabric is done in Montreal and involves using REACH-compliant oils, which are dermatologically approved and free of known carcinogens and harsh chemicals. These natural, therapeutic-grade essential and fragrance oils are then infused into the fabric.

Image courtesy of Effleure.

Think of it this way: instead of a lavender sachet that scents your lingerie with bouquet only after it hits your drawer, Effleure lingerie is infused at the front end before it hits your drawer. Each piece then arrives in an elegant round box, a beautiful surprise to be discovered and savoured when opened.

The concept of luxury scented lingerie may seem unusual to some people, but perhaps it’s not so surprising that a mother of four teen boys would appreciate the idea of something for herself after months of lockdown with a chaotic full house. “It’s like a beautiful secret under your clothes,” she says.

“A lot of women love the idea of something for just themselves, but conversely a lot of women say their partner loves the secret, too—either way, it’s totally empowering and confidence-inspiring.”

Image courtesy of Effleure.

Lavender and French vanilla are scents that women often buy for themselves, say, for a yoga class or to simply watch Netflix, Marcolin suggests, while the black coconut and dark chocolate are more playful fragrances meant to be enjoyed by others, as well. The point is to find a scent that you connect with—to be your own aphrodisiac.

Next up for Effleure: a lace bodysuit and an ouvert lingerie piece. Either way, they’ll work in both boudoir and boardroom.


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October 28, 2020