Thursday, September 20, 2012

A fond farewell...

It is with a full heart that I announce Toad Lillie’s closing. My love of making exquisitely pretty things and helping women feel gorgeous has been such a wonderful adventure. I still can’t believe that in two years I taught myself both how to design and how to run a business. From my early days of crafting theatrical pasties to decadent collections that were lauded internationally and photographed by world class photographers, it has been a wonderful roller coaster ride bringing my fanciful dreams to light. As a creative, there’s nothing more rewarding than crafting beauty and seeing that beauty embraced.

Deciding to move from a little hobby making pasties to establishing a full-fledged label was the scariest and most thrilling thing I’ve done to date. Along the way I discovered what a passionate woman I am and that I’m far more fearless than I ever gave myself credit for in the beginning. Though self-taught, I was determined to master the design and technique to develop an exceptionally crafted line with a strong point of view. As my skills and the label grew, so did the brand. I was happily surprised at how the business facets of growing a brand, especially the marketing and social media portions, can be extensions of creativity as well.

Above all the best part of my Toad Lillie experience has been forging relationships with people. Being a solo-entrepreneur can be a lonely and daunting journey. I never realized how outgoing I was until I spent days alone in the studio with only my virtual connections to keep me company. Connecting with my customers, fans, colleagues, and peers was incredibly rewarding and kept me invested in my vision through many a challenging time. It is difficult to walk away from something you love, but when I was honest with myself about what would make me happiest I realized I’m my best around other people. While the creative spark may come from within, my fire comes from engaging with the world in a collaborative and dynamic way.

So it’s with a leap of faith that I say goodbye to this lovely little flower of mine and look for the next adventure. I’m not entirely sure what that will be but I figure if I can start a successful brand from scratch all I need to do is jump and I’ll land on my feet. Thank you to all of my customers and fans, for believing in me and my vision. I will cherish your stories of how Toad Lillie made you feel empowered and beautiful. And thank you to my amazing colleagues and peers within the lingerie industry. You are some of the most generous, fascinating, and talented people I’ve had the privilege to meet and work with. I am proud to count many of you as friends. Big sappy kisses and hugs to all of you.

xx Laurie

Monday, June 4, 2012

Monday Morning Pretty - Charlotte Gainsbourgh for French Vogue

A few fabulous photos from an editorial that actress/musician Charlotte Gainsbourgh did for French Vogue back in 2007. Love that dreamy feathered shrug in the first photo!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Toad Lillie's First Fashion Show

Recently the most amazing experience crossed my path. Toad Lillie was asked to participate in Seattle's prestigious Metropolitan Fashion Week's closing night gala. A dozen gorgeous girls sashayed in my silk fancies on a fabulous circular runway beneath soaring airplanes at the Museum of Flight accompanied by a full orchestra and a very handsome crooner singing "I'm Feeling Good".  So much fun! Surprisingly I got quite emotional hearing the crowd's roaring approval as the first model made her dramatic entrance. I was incredibly proud and thankful :)

Tease ruffled bra, panties, and bed jacket

Vamp quarter cup bra, panties, and garter belt

Chouquette ruffled bra and panties

Chantilly quarter cup bra, panties, and garter belt

The Venue

Walking the runway with my closing model :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Lingerie Is Just Icing On The Cake

I posted this frilly set on Facebook the other day and was so tickled with how many fans loved it. Perhaps it's new to you, but it's actually from my very first collection (and one of my favorite looks).

Charming Darling ruffled quarter cup bra and matching frilly panties, paired with the Tie One On garter belt.

Most  of you know I'm a hand crafted label, and many of you may be aware that I offer custom (or bespoke) services. What does this mean? Well, it means I'm in the business of making dreams come true.

I've done everything from frothy peignoirs with 25 yards of chiffon ruffles to full-bust camisoles to plus size knickers. I get requests for pieces outside of the standard size range, for unique colorways, and the perfect panties for under a wedding gown. Fall in love with a set from a prior collection? It's yours for the asking.

Nothing makes me happier than when customers reach out with their fantasies. There are ardent husbands who are bored with the big-name luxury labels and are delighted by personalized service. There are giddy women looking for a little self-esteem boost before making their boudoir photography debuts. And, best of all, there are women just like you and me who plot and dream and save for something truly special that they know will knock some serious socks off.

Being a true atelier, I am lucky enough to make beautiful things every day. And while the artist in me is inspired by the creative process, it is the human connection that sustains my work. I love holding your hand, encouraging your dreams, and crafting something so unique and exquisite that you can't help but feel inspired as well. While the lingerie is the icing on the cake, it's the experience that you will savor.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Monday Morning Pretty - Edwardian Inspired Boudoir

Well the next collection is starting to come together. I am heavily inspired by the "La Belle Epoque" period for my Spring/Summer 2013 offerings. Luxe, decadent, ornate pieces that can be worn in and out of the boudoir. While researching styling ideas for my upcoming shoot I stumbled onto this fab editorial from Italian Marie Claire, October 2009. It's hazy, romantic, and feminine. Just love it. Hope you do too!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Meet the Designer

A fun little video taken by McPeteSez at Toad Lillie's market debut in NYC last February. A little bit of history (it all began with pasties!) and a sneak peek of saucy fancies set to release in Fall 2012 (check out Flambe!).

P.S. I didn't realize I was always this animated and expressive with my hands. No wonder I always spill my wine at parties :)

xo Laurie

Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Morning Pretty - La Belle Époque

La Belle Époque - The Beautiful Era

One of my favorite eras for clothing is the 1910s. Known as the Edwardian period in the US and La Belle Époque in France, this period is marked by softer silhouettes and opulent details. When the Ballets Russes performed Scheherazade in Paris in 1910, there was a craze for Orientalism in fashion. Couturier Paul Poiret was the first to translate this vogue into harem and geisha inspired fashion. Poiret is also credited with the elimination of the corset in couture fashion and the design of the first outfit which could be worn without a maid. Art Deco influences can also be seen in fashion with decorative motifs and the use of metallics.

I am smitten with the opera coats and evening capes of the era, crafted in velvets, silks, and brocades with ornate embellishments and fur trim. Vogue did an amazing fashion spread "Fashioning the Century" which coincided with the Paul Poiret exhibit at the Met. These fashions look just as fresh now as they did one hundred years ago.

Georges Barbier illustration, 1912

Velvet evening cape with stenciled border

Steven Miesel "Fashioning the Century" Vogue 2007

Paul Poiret evening coat, 1911

Steven Miesel "Fashioning the Century" Vogue 2007

Evening coat, 1913

Silk evening coat, available on Etsy

Paul Poiret evening coat, 1912
“Prè Catelan” coat 1918, Paul Poiret

Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday Morning Pretty - Sequined Collars

My love for all things sparkly has me gushing over the sequined collar trend. With a nod to 1950s glamor girls, these collars are especially lovely topping sheer chiffon blouses. They can have a tailored sharp edge, or (my personal favorite) sport the vintage Peter Pan silhouette. And if you're looking for double duty drama, it's quite easy to find bib-type collars that can be worn over a blouse or over your decolletage. Which one is your favorite?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday Morning Pretty - Bowtastic

As you know I'm a huge fan of bows. I use them on bras, panties, garter belts, babydolls, and bed jackets. Bows and lingerie are perfect bedfellows, making the wearer feel like the ultimate present :)

But in reality, bows are a bit tricky. They can be overly feminine when employed in a sophisticated fashion, or they can border on twee. I think a bow's success has largely to do with it's scale. Sweet, subtle bows can be absolutely darling on narrow belts, kitten heels, and velvet headbands. While I indulge my girlishness in such pared down fancies, what really sets my heart aflutter are big over-the-top dramatic bows.

You can imagine the squealing the ensued when I stumbled on these gorgeous Tom Ford stilettos a few days back. They the perfect shade of violet velvet (a match made in heaven for my ruffled Tease set) and with gold tipped heels no less! But what really made me swoon were the sashes tied in decadent bows at the ankle. Seriously, I die. I don't need a Prince Charming to slip a crystal pump on my arches. It would be so much more fun to have him untie my ankles (and of course work his way up to untying some Toad Lillie!).

Here are some of my favorite bow-topped stunners. Which ones do you love?

Tom Ford

Christian Louboutin


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It All Began With Pasties

For those of you that don't know how I got started with Toad Lillie, it all began with pasties. One day after seeing a burlesque show I thought it would be fun to make pasties for a friend of mine as a gag gift. After some experimenting I created a pair that were so incredibly lovely that I thought it would be fun to start a little line on Etsy. Soon there were matching garter belts and requests started coming in for panties and bras. The rest, as they say, is history.

If you've never worn pasties I highly recommend trying it at least once. Toad Lillie is all about the theatrical "ta-da!" and there's nothing that makes quite the impact as pasties. They are so over-the-top fun and fabulous that regardless of how shy you might be about prancing about with just frillies on your nipples, you can't help but feel playful and bold and, ultimately, empowered. So give it a try! I guarantee you'll be giddy :)


I've put together a little tutorial on how I make these of my fanciful pasties. Feel free to experiment with whatever strikes your fancy. I make my pasties with big showy flowers, but you could make plain ones and embellish them with bows or sparkly rhinestones. Or you might decide to buy small silk flowers instead of making them yourself. Just like you'll need to throw caution to the wind with abandon by wearing pasties, anything goes!

These are so pretty I get told repeatedly I should make fascinators. You could definitely use this same technique and embellish headbands or barrettes. A way to bring the boudoir into every day!

I'd love to see photos of what you end up crafting! And if you're brave enough to share how they go over please tell us what a hit you were :)

Supply list:
Buckrum (you can find this over by the interfacing in a fabric shop)
Faux leather (optional)
Fabric (I use silks and taffetas, but you can use anything with some weight to it)
WonderUnder (a double sided fusible web with paper on one side, also found by interfacing)
Hot glue gun
Beading needle if your beads are small
Beading thread (or a heavier thread)
Anything else you want to use to embellish (I use feathers here)
Double sided dress tape to wear them

Start with making circles about 2-2.5" diameter. I use a juice cup as a guide.

After cutting out the circles of buckrum and leather, cut a slit to the center of the circle. Put a bit of hot glue to the side of the slit at the bottom edge and overlap the edges by about a 1/2". This will give you a little bit of a cone.

To make hand cut flowers I use two layers of my chosen fabric. Cut enough fabric and a piece of fusible web that will fuse them together.

To use the fusible web, put the rough side down on the wrong side of the fabric and press according to the manufacturer's directions. I use a press cloth between the web and the iron.

After pressing you will pull off the paper and the rough side, or glue, will stick to the wrong side of the fabric. Then place the other piece of fabric on top of this, right side up, and press again according to the manufacturer's directions. Now you'll have two pieces of fabric permanently fused together. I do this to get a bit more body out of my fabric and to help minimize fraying on my edges.

Cut out the shapes you'll want to use for your design. I make a pattern out of paper and then trace it onto the fabric. For these pasties I make two large red flowers, and several smaller charcoal petal shaped pieces.

Start beading the center of the flower. You'll want to make a tack first by making a few small stitches before you start adding beads to make sure they will be secure. Make another tack when you've finished beading your design.

This is my favorite part :)

Start decorating the buckrum. I cut some feather trim and glued it down with hot glue in the center.

Then I started decorating from the edges out to make sure no buckrum is showing. I like how these petals give a ruffled edge to the design. Plus they add some width making them a bit more fuller coverage. Lastly glue the red flowers in the center. There shouldn't be any buckrum showing.

I add a lining of faux leather to make them look pretty on the inside. You don't have to do this. The double sided tape will adhere just fine to the buckrum itself.

Ta-da! Red, Hot & Ready is all set to start a fire tonight :)