Europe

Undergarments for the Ultrawealthy

In a subterranean workroom of a building on Rue Saint-Honoré in Paris, there are cabinets filled with bags of Chantilly lace in myriad shades: Yves Klein blue, sherbet orange, a silvery periwinkle. Nestled between the furniture are some half-dozen sewing machines, at which a small staff of seamstresses works while constructing corsets for Cadolle, a company that has been making custom lingerie for almost 140 years.

Cadolle’s reputation has made it a sought-after resource for labels like Dior and designers like John Galliano, who had the company make corsets for his buzzy Maison Margiela Artisanal couture show in January. (Mr. Galliano, through a representative, declined to comment for this article.) Celebrities like Rihanna and Beyoncé have also worn Cadolle pieces in music videos.

These days, corsets come in many forms. Some, like athleisure-inspired versions or corset hoodies, have evolved what has traditionally been an undergarment in both form and function. But at Cadolle, the approach to corsetry hasn’t changed much since Herminie Cadolle founded the company in the late 1880s.

Cadolle’s lingerie can be made in myriad colors. Americans prefer black and nude; French customers favor more vibrant shades.Credit…Lucie Cipolla for The New York Times
On the door leading to the company’s atelier is a family tree tracing Cadolle’s lineage from its founder to its current chief executives.Credit…Lucie Cipolla for The New York Times

That approach involves crafting pieces that lift up women — in spirit and anatomically — and accompany them “throughout their lives,” said Patricia Cadolle, 45, Herminie’s great-great-great-granddaughter. She runs Cadolle with her mother, Poupie Cadolle, Herminie’s great-great-granddaughter, who is in her 70s.

On a glass pane of a door leading to the company’s atelier, which is decorated with magenta carpets, velvet couches and mirrored walls, a family tree composed of photos and cutout branches traces the lineage from its founder to its current chief executives.

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