The French word couture translates into English as “sewing.” But, worldwide, the term has come to signify the highest level of craftsmanship in garment construction. Imagine lingerie and loungewear as beautiful inside as out, fitted to your requirements, to be treasured for years to come. Two JV designers uniquely embody the concept of couture: Karolina Laskowska and Merel Zwart of Merle Noir. Join us as we explore their pursuit of perfection.

Merel’s work with ballet costumes shows in her delicate yet easy (and sexy) designs. Their lowkey look belies the tiniest stitches, the most exquisite attention to detail. The Nikiya Asymmetrical Top is a lovely example. Karolina uses equally skilled techniques to create a more gothic look. She is inspired by materials such as one-of-a-kind remnants of lace. Her Eos Couture Lingerie Set, a collaboration with Jane’s Vanity, is a unique result. And, sometimes she even makes  “…underthings that are so ridiculously decadent and deeply impractical that they're basically art.”

While their designs may differ, these two women are similar in their single-minded dedication to a dream. Both are from Europe, Merel from The Netherlands, Karolina from England although now working from Oslo, Norway. Both began sewing, designing, and making art from an early age. Both attended rigorous art schools. And both found their metier in the creation of couture lingerie. It shows in their joyful work and recalls this blessing: May you have the strength and courage to become more and more yourself. 

Here is how that looks at the moment for each. Karolina manages to be not only a lingerie and corsetry impresaria, but also an online innovator. She is the director of The Underpinnings Museum, an online resource that is “a radical innovation in showcasing and documenting exquisite objects, dedicated to the evolution of underwear through the ages.” 

In addition, she uses the membership platform Patreon to bring her vision to monthly subscribers. Oh, she’s also on Twitter and Instagram

As for Merel, she recently sent Karolina an Advent Calendar that consisted of one elegant piece of lingerie for each day of the season. A sweet gesture (soon to be reciprocated, we understand) that epitomizes Merel’s stealthy originality. Her atelier’s name, Merle Noir, is a play on her own name–the image of a songbird, following its own path. In a similar way, she has made it her calling to create the ultimate bespoke couture lingerie. Merle Noir has an Instagram account as well.

Perhaps another definition of couture could be “the thing to which you give your total devotion.” That would be the couture of Karolina Laskowska and Merel Zwart, favorites at Jane’s Vanity.

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