La Perla

Founded by Ada Masotti in 1954

Italian designer Ada Masotti founded her company in a small Bologna workshop, assisted by her husband. Situated in a city renowned for its thriving textile industry, Masotti utilized locally sourced luxurious fabrics to craft exquisite corsetry. She derived the name of her business from a jewel-lined case in red velvet, the same material used for the initial product packaging.

With an innate understanding of the female form, Masotti’s lingerie designs seamlessly complemented the ‘New Look’ of the 1950s, popularized by Christian Dior. While lingerie in the 1950s primarily came in traditional skin tones, the 1960s saw a transformative shift as the company introduced colored and patterned lingerie, featuring floral prints and lace inserts that perfectly aligned with the fashion trends of that era.

Expanding beyond lingerie, the brand ventured into swimwear in 1971, launching a Beachwear collection that drew inspiration from haute couture. In the same year, the first triangle bra within a silk nightgown was introduced.

As the feminist movement waned, lingerie underwent a resurgence with increased lace and transparency. These elements were embraced in their designs, including the introduction of elastic lace in 1978.

In 1980, the company expanded its portfolio by adding the brand Malizia and the swimwear brand Annaclub. Their first wide-shouldered body made entirely of elastic lace was designed in 1983, ushering in a more romantic and refined design era.

The year 1986 marked the launch of the first fragrance, featuring a bottle inspired by the feminine figure, designed by Pierre Dinand. In 1990, an advertising image showcased a lace design alongside shoes, jewelry, and a hat, demonstrating the fusion of lingerie with high fashion. The subsequent year witnessed the opening of the first boutique.

Embracing the minimalism of the 1990s, Sculpture was introduced in 1994, a bra with a fresh concept in underwear, emphasizing simplicity and harmonious styling.

In 2001, the company pushed boundaries with the creation of the Brassiere-Bretelle, a bra adorned with two lace strips covering the middle of the breast.

The brand made its debut on Milan’s catwalks with a clothing collection in 2002, known as the Pret-a-Porter collection, featuring both day and night lines. In the following year, the special line of lingerie known for its daring and sexy designs was unveiled.

In 2008, the limited edition Filigree Collection was introduced, featuring jewelry-inspired lingerie crafted with 14-carat gold. That same year, the company was acquired by JH Partners, a San Francisco-based private equity firm.

Under the leadership of Alberto, the brand has evolved into a multinational company with a diverse portfolio, including a clothing line. Known for its extravagant and lacy lingerie, the brand has maintained its reputation for elegant and trend-appropriate styles.

In October 2008, JH Partners, a private equity firm based in San Francisco, acquired the luxury brand specializing in lingerie and swimwear.

In June 2013, Italian entrepreneur Silvio Scaglia and Pacific Global Management acquired the brand, leading to a brand relaunch focused on consolidating its identity.

In May 2014, the brand faced criticism for using mannequins in its New York store that depicted visible ribs and concave stomachs, which were subsequently removed. In June 2014, the brand made history by hosting its first menswear catwalk show at Pitti Uomo in Florence, showcasing loungewear and beachwear.

In December 2017, the Chinese conglomerate Fosun International entered talks to acquire the company, but the negotiations faltered in January 2018 due to Fosun’s plans to move production to China. In February 2018, the Sapinda Group, led by Lars Windhorst, acquired the company, committing to maintaining production at existing facilities in Italy and Portugal, marking another relaunch for the brand with a new development strategy. The same year, a made-to-measure collection was introduced at its flagship stores, offering customized lingerie.

In 2015, the brand debuted its first Atelier collection during Couture Fashion Week in Paris, marking its inaugural runway show at the event.

Julia Haart served as creative director of the brand for a year in 2016, and later, in 2021, Nicole Rendone, an Italian-American designer, assumed the role of creative director and Chief Design Officer.

Throughout its history, the brand has garnered significant attention, with mentions in various publications. The brand’s first monographic book, “Lingerie & Desire,” was published by Rizzoli New York City in 2012, providing an in-depth exploration of the brand’s history, products, marketing, and aesthetics.

La Perla Biography

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Written by Saxony Dudbridge

Saxony Dudbridge was one of the first contributors to the Catwalk Yourself project, Saxony studies International Fashion Marketing and she is responsible for our great History and Designers Biographies sections.

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