Au revoir, Paris! I’m recently back home after attending the Paris Salon International de la Lingerie 2023 Trade Show (on hiatus for the past 2 years). It’s the lingerie trade show highlighting all the best international lingerie brands. And, there they were! Front and center, Chantelle’s enormous and imposing booth. A visual reminder that they are the most well-known French lingerie brand sold in the United States and the largest French lingerie company in the world.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Chantelle’s Technical Design Director, Elisabeth Sellier – a true Parisian with a flair for elegance. She also oversees (and is personally a member of) Chantelle’s team of technical fitters and pattern makers who are laser-focused on ensuring a fabulous and accurate fit to all their products. But, particularly their bras.
Years Designing: 37
Bra size: 34F (D3)
Chantelle Bra Sizes: Band 30-44, Cups A-I (D6)
TOMIMA: How did you get into the lingerie designing industry?
ELISABETH: I started down a more conventional path of studying Law at University. But, having had the love of drawing since I was a little girl, I followed my passion and changed my studies to the Parisian Haute Couture School. I found my passion in lingerie, so followed up with a program specializing in the field. I have since remained smitten with the lingerie field and have never looked back. Lingerie is a story of love and emotion!
TOMIMA: How do you approach a new Chantelle bra style, and are you part of that process?
ELISABETH: We have a fantastic team of technical fitters and pattern makers, who work hard to translate the designers’ vision into shapes that can be worn by women ranging from A to I(D6) cups.
I personally try on and wear the majority of the core products we develop, so I can feel what a consumer experiences, especially after several wears.
I consider myself so fortunate to have a job whose mission is so close to women, who are all different, but often concerned by the same thing: to have her needs met, ranging from comfort, to support, to feeling beautiful in a way that is unique to her. It’s great!
TOMIMA: How does Chantelle fit test new designs?
ELISABETH: At Chantelle, we test our new designs on our employees in seasonal fit sessions. We examine each element such as strap length, cup depth, and coverage, where each component of fabric hits various body types, etc. This is particularly important when developing a new silhouette for our brand. We typically like to line up at least 4-6 different-sized fit models at the same time so that we can visually compare the fit across our size range.
TOMIMA: Any fun story about field-testing a style where you found a better solution?
ELISABETH: For me ‘fun’ is related to solving problems related to technical fit. For example, for strapless bras, since we debrief with many consumers, we know that some are allergic to the silicone used to keep the band in place. So we worked for a long time to develop a wide elastic band, finding the right balance between the tension of the band to give the right support, while not making the band too tight, or uncomfortable. Not an easy feat, and therefore ‘fun’ when we eventually succeeded.
TOMIMA: Chantelle collections have unique names. How are they determined?
ELISABETH: In naming our products, we try to find names that are both simple and memorable. Some names are ‘iconic’ places in Paris, like Rive Gauche or Champs Elysees. Sometimes we play with the English/French languages, with names like C Magnifique or C Jolie, where the “C” is shorthand for either Chantelle or “C’est” (meaning “it is” in French), followed by ‘magnificent’ or ‘pretty’ in French. And sometimes, we’ll use descriptors to relay the benefits directly in the name, like Soft Stretch.
TOMIMA: Is there a system for Chantelle style numbers?
ELISABETH:Yes, Chantelle’s style numbers mostly follow a similar logic to help consumers/retailers confirm they’re purchasing the right style. For example, most of our Demi Bras end in a 5. Fuller coverage bras end in a 1. Plunge bras end in a 2 and Thongs end in a 9. Most of our Collection follows this logic.
TOMIMA: Is there any “sleeper” Chantelle product you think my readers should give more consideration to?
ELISABETH: We are still building awareness of our Soft Stretch padded tops. They’re the perfect ‘non-bra bra’ that needs to be in every woman’s wardrobe for comfortable days at home, sleeping, or running a quick errand.
Another wardrobe staple at the heart of Chantelle is a comfortable lace bra. Most women don’t even realize that lace can be comfortable until trying Chantelle, and the Day to Night Full Coverage or Demi are each designed to be comfortable enough to wear during the day, and beautiful enough for times when you want to wear something special.
TOMIMA: Can you elaborate on your newer offering, Soft Stretch?
ELISABETH: Yes, Soft Stretch revolutionized the underwear segment and was the culmination of our search for the most comfortable underwear that would actually stay in place and deliver on the promise of ‘no VPL’. At the same time, we recognized that both consumers and shop owners needed to simplify. By this, we mean that for consumers, the stretch of the fabric adapts to women (either through weight gain, or pregnancy, or monthly fluctuation) who don’t have to worry about changing sizes. And for retailers, the two ‘one size’ versions of Soft Stretch essentially cover 9 sizes (XS-XL, and 1X-4X).
TOMIMA: Is there anything unique about Chantelle’s underwires?
ELISABETH: Our underwires are nickel-free and have a plastic coating. They change in size as the cup size increases, however, their material makeup stays the same.
TOMIMA: Do you have a personal favorite Chantelle bra style?
ELISABETH: As you can imagine, I wear many Chantelle bras. My 2 go-to favorite bras are C Jolie T-Shirt and Norah Wirefree.
I wear the C Jolie t-shirt bra very often. The cup perfectly shapes the breast and I feel supported and SO comfortable, which is necessary for a working day.
I also wear the Norah Wirefree, because it provides a beautiful shape in larger cup sizes (I’m a 34F(D3)), even if it doesn’t have an underwire. I also love the tall, smoothing band, which makes it extra comfortable.
TOMIMA: What causes a Chantelle bra style to be retired?
ELISABETH: Mainly sales volume. It’s a complex topic, and there are many reasons, and the short answer is that while we try to develop great styles that are sold to loyal consumers for 5-15-25+ years, it’s not always possible to align consumers and retailers around the world.
Our longest-running bra was Tamaris, which we sold to loyal consumers and retailers for over 50 years. Unfortunately, the fabric was no longer available, and we had no choice but to discontinue the bra. Nevertheless, we are proud of having offered this bra to over three generations of women.
TOMIMA: How do you get customer feedback on Chantelle products?
ELISABETH: You’ll be happy to know we closely read all HerRoom product reviews! Your site is a great and accurate resource. We also aggregate reviews from some other sites, as well as from our field experts and boutique clients who are fitting consumers every day. The feedback is very important to us. And, we are grateful to you, Tomima, for having such an informative and comprehensive website for consumers. We can tell you love the products and what you do as much as we do.
Tomima – Thank you! I’m blushing…
What is a Chantelle woman’s capsule lingerie wardrobe?
ELISABETH: I feel that a woman should wear what is most comfortable for her in her lifestyle and that varies a lot. However, I feel she should have the following 4 items:
- A comfort bra, such as a Soft Stretch Padded Top
- An ‘everyday’ bra that she is confident working in or going about her daily activities, such as Norah, C Jolie T-shirt Bra or C Magnifique
- A sports bra such as our new High Impact
- A lacey fun piece such as the Day to Night Demi or the Rive Gauche.
TOMIMA: What products is Chantelle still trying to master to perfection?
ELISABETH: As the industry evolves to offering more fabrics made of recycled materials, there is a new learning curve to finding the fabrics that offer the right amount of support while remaining sustainable. We also don’t want to lose any of our hard-won achievements in how light and effective (minimal seaming, structure) we’ve been able to make.
I dream of offering consumers the perfect bra that will support better than ever, with less, respecting the planet with a beautiful product for a woman to radiate beauty inside and out: I want all of this!
Get your suitcases ready. Our buyers have returned from market with dozens of fun, fresh swim styles perfect for your next getaway. As you know, fast, cheap fashion is not our style. At HerRoom, you’ll find high-quality swim you’ll wear for seasons to come: from the latest trends, such as high necks, to sustainable styles and beyond. If you have never owned bra-sized swimwear you must add it to your cart now. It’s a superior fit and you will look more amazing in a well-fitted swimsuit. I guarantee it. Let the vacation planning begin!
Founder & CEO