Looking at lingerie models posing in underwear, one would think that with heavenly bodies, it’s likely a breeze for them.
But according to American actress Liv Tyler who’s just had firsthand lingerie modelling experience, it’s contrary to that.
Tyler, 40, was recently introduced as the global face of Triumph Essence for Autumn/Winter 2017.
Essence offers premium lingerie that is elegant and seductive, complementing a modern woman’s stylish wardrobe.
Its Autumn/Winter 2017 collection has a glamorous theme – “Opulent Art Nouveau” featuring delicate and intimate styles crafted in velvet embellished mesh, Leavers lace and luxurious silk satin.
She follows Julianne Moore who was named as the spokesperson for Florale (another collection) earlier this year.
“I think all women are shy about their bodies. Even the most beautiful model in the world feels insecure about their bodies and there are things we like and don’t,” says Tyler at an interview in Shanghai.
Tyler is the daughter of Aerosmith’s lead singer, Steven Tyler and model Bebe Buell.
She started modelling at the age of 14 but in under just a year, she quit to go into acting.
Tyler was recognised for her lead role in Stealing Beauty in 1996, but she achieved global recognition for her portrayal of Elf maiden Arwen Undomiel in the Lord Of The Rings film trilogy.
In person, she is almost as ethereal and delicate as Arwen, as she speaks with a gentle whisper, slowly, sensually and thoughtfully.
At the Triumph Essence press conference, she was dressed in a chic black pantsuit with black lacy lingerie peeking out of her jacket.
She says she wasn’t familiar with Triumph when they offered her the spokesperson role. She started researching about the brand and was amazed by their black and white brassiere images from the 50s, 60s and 70s, and the fact that those bra designs came from a corset contraption.
“What I liked was they were not just designing bras for a certain look or for men. They were designing for women of all shapes and sizes.
“We all come in different sizes so it’s nice to work with a company that understands that. At a fitting I found out that I was wearing the wrong bra size all this while!” she says with a laugh.
In BBC’s Guy Fawkes drama, Gunpowder, where she stars alongside Kit Harrington, Tyler had to wear a corset for 12 hours on set and she says “it’s so nice to get in character, but that corset in Gunpowder wasn’t particularly tight.”
“The hardest thing I had to do in a period drama was to run up a hill wearing a tight corset, practically out of breath and almost fainted.”
“You get very excited when you can take off your corset and I get why women were burning their bras!”
When Triumph approached her, she just turned 40 and had her baby daughter Lula with her partner David Gardner.
She is also mother to two-year-old Sailor, 12-year-old Milo (her son with ex-husband Royston Langdon) and nine-year-old Gray, Gardner’s son from a previous relationship.
“I wasn’t stressed about turning 40 and I think age is really just a number. Although my eyesight is getting weirder by the second, I feel like I’m in my 20s!”
Tyler was photographed by British photographer Rankin for the Triumph Essence Autumn/Winter 2017 collection.
Leading up to the shoot Tyler said she was quite stressed but at the photoshoot she had the most liberating feeling.
“I had the most amazing hair, makeup, nails and jewels, the most beautiful underwear and I was hiding under the robe. Then I thought, ‘I can do this’, and dropped my robe and walked to the set. Good music and a glass of champagne helped!”
“The Essence collection is really sexy and is perfect for special occasions, and I loved the ‘Lavish Body’ in black lace,” she says.
“Triumph is so unique as I knew they were hiring me not for my body but my experience, who I am and what I represent so I guess that was the best thing; I could be myself and I really liked the product.”
While she was grateful for the experience Tyler says “it was terrifying to be in your underwear in front of a group of strangers. The crew were encouraging but I couldn’t wait till the end of the day to put my clothes back on.
“I really enjoyed the outcome of the pictures and someday when I’m really old and when I look back it’ll be a satisfying feeling.”
“I’m really proud of Triumph for hiring Julianne and me as we’re both mothers and not lingerie models, so that was interesting and made me feel safe,” Tyler says.
A man talking lingerie
Triumph – founded in 1886 – is now run by the fourth generation, headed by Oliver Spiesshoffer, managing partner for Triumph Holding AG, his brother, and cousin.
Spiesshoffer, who has dual nationalities – British and German – is based in Hong Kong and he manages the business for Japan and the rest of Asia.
He says Essence was created some years ago and Florale – figure flattering styles decorated with signature Peony stretch lace and rich embroidery – a few months ago.
“We decided that we wanted to support these sub-brands with spokesmodels of the calibre of Julienne Moore and Liv Tyler. They were chosen to reflect the brand and the target consumer,” Spiesshoffer says.
What is it like being a man and talking lingerie? “Once you do it every day it loses all possible awkwardness. It’s just a business that I do where I’m involved in everything, and we talk a lot about technical things,” Spiesshoffer says.
“It’s not like I have ladies in underwear standing in my office every day. That’s just in people’s imagination,” he says with a laugh.
“For me it’s more interesting than not, because I realise that women feel liberated being able to talk to a man about the technical issues of wearing and buying bras. I’ve a unique view of the women’s world that men generally don’t have.”
“The thing I enjoy most is the fact that I make something that people can take home. There are a lot of businesses or services that are virtual or purely on paper, but at Triumph we can make something that is tangible and changes with every season, and carry a lot of emotions.
“The machinery is the biggest part that has changed over the years but we can never neglect the human factor. Compared to outerwear, creating lingerie requires more human interaction,” he says.
“I just watched a video where a T-shirt was amazingly made with 99% automation. However, a bra is three dimension and not flat, and it requires 20 different fabrics, wires and hooks so the process is much more complex.”
Many businesses are turning to automation, but for now at Triumph, the human employee is still a valuable part of the business – that is, until a robot that can sew a bra together is created!