Stephanie Seymour knows a thing or two about lingerie. The icon-status model—who has graced the cover of over 300 magazines and posed countless times for the likes of Richard Avedon, Herb Ritts and Bruce Weber, including our Better Than Ever Spring ’15 campaign—has spent more than half her life slipping in and out of in intimate apparel, making her more than discerning when it comes to fit and feel. Beyond that, as a muse for designers like Azzedine Alaïa, she has had a firsthand look into couture construction. She brings all this experience to her latest endeavor: Raven & Sparrow by Stephanie Seymour, a line of lingerie and boudoir pieces designed and made here in New York. Below, we talk to Seymour about the timing of the line’s launch and about how her years of modeling helped inform her designs.
The Window: Why lingerie and why now?
Stephanie Seymour: I’ve been thinking about doing it for about 10 years, but now just seemed like the right time. I don’t model as much these days as I once did, and I’ve always wanted to design. With lingerie, I’m not jumping into something like dressmaking—I mean, one of my closest friends is Azzedine Alaïa, so I can’t start there!
Tell us about the ethos of Raven & Sparrow and where its name comes from.
It’s modest but sexy. It’s simple and very European. I really struggled with whether or not I should use my own name for the collection or the name I came up with, Raven & Sparrow, which represents the twos ides of a woman. The raven is the sexy, provocative side, and the sparrow is soft and sweet. Every woman has both sides, and our line encompasses everything—the whole woman. In the end, I really felt like it wasn’t all about me; it’s a couture line of lingerie. Also, I wanted to share the credit. I have great craftspeople sewing the pieces and a great partner, and they help me make my dream come true. Each piece is like a dream for me.
How did your years of experience influence your approach to lingerie?
I bought a lot of lingerie in Europe, which really spoiled me. I never found the nightgowns or robes that I wanted here in New York—it’s about the quality. I saw this hole in the market, and thought I could fill it. I think I know what women want and wanted to make exactly what I love, knowing that others would love it too.
What was the starting point for designing the collection?
I collect vintage lingerie and couture. Because I don’t draw, my forte is really my eye. I pick things that I love from my personal collection, then take them and make them my own. I change the fabric and add details that make sense, but the ideas always come from the vintage collection. Once we have a sample, I take it home and wear it to evaluate the fit. I sleep in it and wash it. I make sure that each and every piece that I approve for the collection is something that I would wear.
Tell us about the collection we have at Barneys.
These are sort of my first designs, and they’ve taken me two years to perfect. The first nightgown I designed is called Stephanie [pictured above]. It’s the sexiest of all the nightgowns, but gives you coverage where you need it. Barneys definitely chose some of my more glamorous pieces.
How do you intend these pieces to be worn? When do you wear them?
I’ve always dressed for bed. It’s always been when I feel the prettiest. I wash my face, brush my teeth, and put on something beautiful. That makes me feel so great when I wake up in the morning. I go to sleep wearing something that makes me feel beautiful, but at the same time, I have children and people running in and out of my bedroom, so my taste in lingerie has to have some modesty. I think when people thought of me creating lingerie, they expected something more provocative, but this is really sleepwear. Nothing is completely transparent. I try to do everything in two lengths. I like longer, but some shorter women like shorter pieces. I know all our bodies are different and design with that in mind.