Éprise and Me in Paris: Finding Full Bust Fit with Lise Charmel

antigel 2836 charm center

lise charmel guipere closeup

Given the gorgeous Lise Charmel collections at Curve every season, you can understand the flutter in my stomach as I approached their flagship store in Paris last May. Every Lise Charmel brand is available in A-E cups, but its Éprise, Antinéa and Antigel lines include larger cups. I couldn’t wait to try each beautiful piece that would fit my current UK size of 32FF.

While I didn’t get to try everything*, I came away with an even better understanding of which Lise Charmel styles fit which large breasts best. Basically, the right Lise Charmel bra for a large chest comes down to three factors: size, shape, and fabric.

Size

  • Don’t dismiss all French bras simply because they follow a different sizing sequence from the UK. I wear a 32FF in Freya, but I wear a 32F in Éprise.
  • Don’t dismiss all bras in a French brand simply because one style doesn’t fit you. My breasts bubbled over the edge of a 32F half cup , but they settled nicely into a full cup bra.
  • Basically, begin with the size you think you are and experiment with cup and band combinations,  remembering to factor in cup shape and fabric.

Cup Shape

Women who wear 32-34 bands and F+ cups should focus on full and 3/4 cups. Sadly, I was told that Éprise, Antinéa and Antigel half cups work best for full-busted women with broader shapes . . . think 38-40 bands. Don’t give up entirely on half cups, however. My fitter also felt there was a good chance that the 30G Guipere Charming would have fit me if it had been available to try.

On a side note, last year I heard the phrase “tulip cup” for the first time and assumed it was the same as a 3/4 cup. My fitter clarified the difference. A 3/4 cup covers less of the chest than a full-cup and comes in three parts, like the Antigel 2386 below (the bow and tassel in the photo at the beginning of this post belongs to this bra).

antigel 2836 cup closeup

A tulip cup comes in only two parts, like the Antinéa 6213 below. It is best for firmer tissue and offers some décolleté.

antinea 6213 tulip cup

Fabric

Fabric can change the fit equation. Although the breathtaking Exception Gitane below is a full cup, my bust pillowed slightly above the 32F that I tried. The heavy Guipere embroidery means less give for full-on-top breasts like mine, while someone whose breasts are full on the bottom could wear this style easily.

lise charmel red roses guipere exception gitane

Guipere isn’t off limits to all full-on-top busts, though. The Guipere embroidery on the 3/4 cup of the Jardin d’Ete below is in a narrower strip that is also softer and more elastic.

closeup 2845 jardin d ete

Simple Calais lace designs offer even more adaptability. My fitter explained that although this Poésie Bohème bra might seem too shallow at first, its heavy tulle base and light features of embroidery would allow it to fit within 10 minutes.

lise charmel poésie bohème

lise charmel white lace closeup

Impressively, EVERY Éprise, Antinéa and Antigel bra designed for large busts includes a tulle lining at the bottom half of the cup to offer greater lift and longevity while simultaneously adapting to a wearer’s shape.

antigel 2836 tulle lining

lise charmel inner sling double tulle exception gitane

In Real Life

Happily, I found a bra in the store that fit me, and the company even gave it to me as a gift: the Depart Aux Iles full cup bra in 32F. Although I received the bra for free, all opinions in this post are my own.

big bust eprise depart aux iles full cup

The Depart Aux Iles isn’t the most eye-catching bra in the Éprise spring/summer 2016 collection, but once on, it was so pretty that I wanted to show it off under my white shirt.

eprise big bust under white shirt

Of course I never wear it under white, but I wear it under absolutely everything else, even knits. With its pastel shades and delicate leavers lace (soft, not scratchy!), I feel fresh and summery every time I put it on.  The lace and seams may show up a little bit under thin knits, but not enough to be distracting, and I really like the lift and shape.

big bust eprise shapeHere’s what else I love about it:

1. Other than occasional glimpses that remind me that I’m wearing something special, I never think about this bra during the day. There was no break-in period to stretch it out, and there is still no band movement on the loosest hook after over two months of many, many wears.

2. Sturdy straps and cushioned underwires are standard in a good full bust bra, but they feel positively luxurious in my Éprise. At 7/8″ inch wide, I own only one bra with wider straps–my Panache sports bra. However, the feminine color and lace applique keep the straps from looking industrial.

eprise large bust straps

While it may not look industrial, the wide straps extend down the length of the leotard back, making it feel incredibly secure. Do any of your bras have this feature? In every other bra in my drawer, the strap ends where it attaches to the ring on the band, and the band is simply hemmed with a zig-zag stitch to the hooks.

big bust eprise leotard back

Here is a closeup of the cushioning on the underwires.

DSC06252

For reference, the underwires are very flexible.

lise charmel flexible underwire poésie bohème

3. Finally, the 32F fits me perfectly. A Swarovski crystal dangles from the perfectly tacked center gore. There is no spillage at the top of the cups and no empty space at the bottom. The wire length is ideal for someone with high set breasts like mine: long enough to contain all breast tissue, short enough not to poke the soft skin beneath my armhole. I’m pointing to where the underwire ends in the photo below.

DSC06253

DSC06246

As you’ve probably guessed, this is my favorite souvenir from our trip to Paris.

lise charmel packaging 2 5-10-2016 11-28-39 AM 480x640

 —————    —————    —————

*In some ways the Lise Charmel store is like a showroom. You can see all the styles, but they may need to special order your size. With this in mind, if Lise Charmel is on your Paris itinerary, it wouldn’t hurt to contact them ahead of time to make sure that the sizes and styles you want to try are available during your visit.

Save

Pretty Bras for Big Breasts: Antigel

My first encounter with Antigel bras was a bit anticlimactic after the glamor and elegance of Éprise and Antinéa. Basically, the collection seemed like a variation of the Freya Deco–a lot of contoured cups but in interesting prints–plus one really neat 3-part charcoal basic in super soft Modal that you’re going to love. I planned to write this in a quick summary at the end of my last post, but the more I prepared for said summary, the more I realized there was nothing quick about all I have to share with you.

First, Antigel bras are the moderate arm of the Lise Charmel group, retailing at around $90 for 3-part bras. Rather than intricate constructions of lace and embroidery, the company relies on its exclusive prints and fabrics to make an impact. Each line includes loungewear, outerwear or shapewear that builds on the base established by the bras.

For most Hourglassy readers, the style you’re going to care about is the 3/4 cup 3-part bra that is available from a 30G to a 36G, and since I began with continuity styles from Eprise and Antigel, I’ll do the same with Antigel. Let’s start with the charcoal Modal bra that I mentioned earlier.

It was the minimalist sweatshirt look of the Simply Perfect that initially grabbed my attention, but then I touched the fabric in a matching lounge top and melted from the softness. The same super soft Modal is used in the bra. Some of the matching loungewear comes with shelf bras, but if I could wear this 3/4 cup bra underneath the pieces that don’t have it, I wouldn’t miss it. The Simply Perfect 3/4 cup bra also comes in beige, light grey, ivory and black.

antigel sweatshirt grey bra on table

3/4 cup 30-40E, 30-38F, 30-36G $90; thong $40, bikini $44 range of 5 neutrals (dark grey, beige, light grey, ivory, black) modal

antigel loungewear

Shopping for basic bras is usually just a chore, but next up is a basic that would be a real treat to bring home. The style is called Personal Pep. Given a choice between the rounded Antinéa Essentiel Fit that I told you about yesterday and this lifting, centering full cup with lace-up front and alternating opaque and transparent stripes, I’d choose the the Personal Pep!

antigel latice lace front black bra

This full cup style (no 3/4 model in this style) comes in 32-44F and 32-38G. It’s constructed out of microfiber fabric and is available in beige, black, white and red.

antigel interior latice lace front black bra

Side sling inside the cups

There’s one more basic called the Culte Beaute that comes in a 3/4 cup in 30-38F and 30-36G, available in white, black, ivory, blush and “poudre de soleil”. I love its simple clean lines.

antigel culte beaute 3 fourths cup

Finally, here are two examples of Antigel’s gorgeous prints. I’ll update this post once I’ve confirmed which styles are available in 3/4 or full cups.  From what I can tell, D is the highest contour cup size that Antigel offers.

antigel padded dentelle au coeur

Dentelle Au Coeur (check out the matching wrap dress on the website here: http://www.lisecharmel.com/collections.aspx?l=dentelle-au-c-ur&cat=534317)

antigel padded dark background velvet bow

Oiseau d’Eden. Don’t you love the velvet bow in the center?

Oiseau d’Eden appears to come in a 3-part cup, complete with interior side sling.

antigel dark background soft cut and sew

antigel dark background inner sling

Definitely check out the Antigel website for some of their other prints–you can see that I gravitate towards lacy or floral, but they also have plaids and polka dots.

But wait–there’s more! Here’s a bonus peek at some of the 2016 swimwear prints in styles that should accommodate a French G cup.

antigel swim 5

antigel swim 6

antigel swim 8

antigel swim extra

image

Antigel compare swim with 3 part basic bra

This turquoise bikini top is based on the cut of the Culte Beaute 3/4 cup bra.

Currently, it seems easier to find Antigel swimwear than bras, but I’m now on the hunt for stores that carry them. Sandra Jones, the U.S. sales rep for Lise Charmel, told me that neither Antinéa nor Antigel are sold in massive department stores, and 95% of the time they are only sold online by brick and mortars that have their own website. What a nice way for boutiques to be able to distinguish themselves–especially if they offer the full range of sizes so that full-busted women can discover which band and cup size work best for them in these brands.

Pretty Bras for Big Breasts: Éprise (Reprise) . . . and Antinéa and Antigel

Éprise by Lise Charmel has always been a mythical lingerie brand for me. When I first learned of its existence six years ago, the pictures were so beautiful it seemed like a fairy tale. I had another brief sighting the first time I attended Curve in 2011. The perfect happy ending would have been finding their haute couture large bust bras in a store where I could try my size. Instead, until last month I simply cast a wistful glance at their Curve booth on my way to visit the brands I knew our readers could find in America.

This year I found two reasons to revisit the Lise Charmel booth. First, you read my Antigel swimsuit review in June where I couldn’t find ANY background info to share with you about this Lise Charmel subsidiary. What was Antigel? What sizes did it offer?

Second, I sat next to Xavier Zorn, the Americas & Middle East Export Sales Manager for Lise Charmel, at the Truly French blog launch and learned that going forward, all Éprise styles will continue the Lise Charmel designs instead of being completely separate. Across from him, Cora from The Lingerie Addict mentioned a gorgeous Lise Charmel continuity style called “Dressing Floral”. If these tulle based cups with their tattoo-effect lace were also available to Eprise’s large cup customers, then I needed to learn more.

lise charmel dressing floral white

lise charmel dressing floral white closeup

The delicate tulle is rigid and deceptively strong.

Personally, I find the Lise Charmel website confusing, so I’ve tried to fill in the gaps about this company through conversations with Xavier Zorn, as well as Sandra Jones, who is the US sales manager for Lise Charmel, and Hannale, who sells Lise Charmel brands at Le Piege des Boobies in Brooklyn.

Let’s begin with some background on Lise Charmel. Founded after World War II, Lise Charmel now has 150 employees at its headquarters, the majority of whom are women, which gives the company most of the sizes that it needs for testing fit. Everything is designed in France, while cutting and stitching takes place at their own factory in Hungary where they maintain tight control over quality.

The three Lise Charmel brands relevant to Hourglassy readers are Éprise, Antinéa and Antigel.

Éprise is the large cup version of the Lise Charmel luxury line. It shares the same high quality materials and workmanship, but Éprise band sizes range from 30 to 44, and its cup sizes extend to a French H. A 32 is the smallest band paired with an Éprise H cup, and this combination only comes in the 3-part full cup styles. Demi cup styles are available from a 30G. Hannale at Le Piege des Boobies told me that her typical advice for sizing in French brands applies to all three of the brands I’m writing about today: go up a cup size and down a band size from what you usually wear.

The Éprise version of the Dressing Floral bra is called the “Guipure Charming” (it has the same style number 98 as the Dressing Floral). The 3-part full cup style has wider straps, a double layer of tulle at the base, and a side sling. As part of their continuity collection, the Guipure Charming will always be available in black lace and a light lace.

lise charmel dressing floral white on tan

Guipere Charming demi

lise charmel dressing floral straps detail

Comparison of the straps on the Guipere Charming demi and full cup

lise charmel dressing floral light beige closeup 2

Sheer single layer of tulle on upper half of Guipere Charming full cup

lise charmel dressing floral lighte beige closeup

Double layer of tulle on bottom half of Guipere Charming full cup ensures lift and support.

lise charmel dressing floral light beige inner sling

Interior view of Guipere Charming full cup with side sling

While the Guipere Charming doesn’t have the same degree of fragility as the Dressing Floral, Eprise has successfully created an exquisite adornment for the large bust. I’ll report more on the actual fit of this piece in a later post.

In addition to its continuity styles, each brand develops two spring/summer and two fall/winter collections that follow a certain theme. The fall/winter 2015 theme is “Indalousie” and is inspired by India. You can visit the website to see the other Éprise styles that follow this theme, but my favorite is the Love Karma.

eprise love karma 2

eprise love karma lace detail

eprise love karma sheerness detail

eprise karma bottoms and back straps detail

You have to do some sleuthing to find where Éprise is carried in the United States, which explains why the French women who live in the vicinity of Le Piege des Boobies, enticed by its window display, will walk in demanding to try only the Lise Charmel brands. According to Hannale, European women remain more comfortable with the pointiness of the cut-and-sew style than American women. This explains the strategy of the next Lise Charmel brand I’m going to write about, Antinéa.

Antinéa began in the 1920’s and has a distinctly Parisian style, so although Lise Charmel acquired it 18 years ago, it has been developed with its own personality rather than as a moderate version of Lise Charmel (Antinéa’s relationship with its holding company makes me think of Huit’s relationship with Eveden). Antinéa bras tend to cost $120-$130, and they attract women looking for something high end but everyday.

Antinéa’s main foray into U.S. markets is certainly everyday–and not very Parisian. It’s the Essentiel Fit 3D spacer tee shirt bra. With the rounded shape that American women feel so comfortable with, this bra is a bestseller in Canada, and I’ve heard good things about it from Hannale up here in New York and Liz at Lion’s Lair down in the Florida Keys. And it comes in a 30H. The suggested retail price is $89, which makes it competitive with Simone Perele and Chantelle.

30-38G $99 beige, blush, black Essential Fit

Hannale has confirmed that this style disappears under clothing.

Guipure motifs

The Guipure motifs are a nice touch.

Of course it’s the Antinéa fashion collection that excites me most, and for fall/winter 2015, the theme is Precieux Voyage. My favorite is the Fleur de Kerala that begins delivery this month. I’m drawn to asymmetric designs, so I love the velvet touches. Plus, the navy makes it a great basic instead of black.

The Fleur de Kerala retails for $132.

antinea fleur de kerala interior sling

Interior side sling

antinea fleur de kerala closeup

antinea fleur de kerala on model

Unfortunately, the Essentiel Fit 3D spacer is an exception to Antinéa’s typical size range. All 3-part styles that go up to a French G cup begin with a 34 band, and F cups begin at a 32. The gorgeous Aruna Passion below is not available in a 3-part full cup style, but it goes to an F cup in 32-38 bands in the demi cup style. image

Here’s hoping that the Essentiel Fit 3D spacer will be such a hit with American women that they beg for a similar size range from Antinea’s fashion styles.

Finally, what about Antigel? When I wrote about it in June, it was called “Antigel by Lise Charmel”, but with its younger styling and prices below $100, the company has wisely rebranded this line as a standalone. Look for its own standalone post next!

Pretty Bras for Big Breasts: Empreinte Again

Empreinte was the inspiration for my very first “Pretty Bras for Big Breasts” post in 2011. Once I saw their bras in person, I longed to own one. As it turned out, I ended up owning the same one twice. First I purchased (and returned) the Kaela and showed you the difference between it and the Melody on me. Then Empreinte gifted me with the Kaela, and I learned the sad lesson that if an Empreinte bra doesn’t tack, it doesn’t fit. My cup size had grown, and I was sized out.

Three things happened recently to cause me to stare longingly at Empreinte again:

First, I’ve drunk the Kool-aid . . . or rather, the champagne! To celebrate the launch of Lingerie Francaise’s new blog, Truly French, Lingerie Francaise invited several bloggers to a dinner with its member brands. I may some day be able to persuade myself again that a bra is just a bra, but right now I’m still inebriated by the idea of lingerie that is “truly French”.

In Empreinte’s case, ALL of its cutting and 20% of its stitching is done in Brest, France, which helps guarantee their quality (the remaining 80% is done in Tunisia, Morocco and Madagascar). Something else “truly French” is their L’Atelier Lingerie that I would love to visit in Paris. Could you imagine having every single bra in your size wheeled into your dressing room?

Second, when Patsy went to Town Shop to find her swimsuit size ahead of our June swimsuit reviews, Empreinte was having a trunk show. She walked away with four Empreinte bras, and she can’t stop raving about them.

Third, as I walked past the Empreinte booth at Curve, I caught a glimpse of this bra hanging on their racks. If Cinderella were to have worn just a bra to the ball instead of a gown, it would have looked like like this. It’s called the Pompadour, and the color is “sky”.

empreinte sky blue pompadour closeup

Empreinte pompadour sky blue briefs closeup

Pompadour will be available in C-G cups and 30-46 bands (depending on the shape, eg., 3/4 balconette or classic with side panels–this applies to all size ranges given below as well).

empreinte sky pompadour model poster

Sky and “powder” (below) ship in January. They are one-time colors.

empreinte pompadour blush closeup

Black ships in December and will be available seasonally.

empreinte pompadour noir on model

If the Pompadour is my fairy tale bra, the Lily Rose is my dream “everyday bra”. The seasonal color “argent” ships in January and comes in C-G and 30-48.

empreinte lily rose closeup

A friend once mocked me for purchasing the matching briefs for my Kaela set. Admittedly, those bottoms were pretty basic, but I can’t imagine owning the Lily Rose without the matching bottoms below.

empreinte lily rose bottoms closeup

Here is another beautiful “everyday” option: the Elsa in “petal”. It also comes in “smoke” and white. It will ship in February and be available in C-G and 30-46.

empreinte elsa blush closeup

empreinte elsa grey closeup

empreinte elsa bottoms

The use of embroidery (vs. lace) and microfiber make Elsa a little less expensive than the more elaborate styles. It retails for $150.

empreinte white elsa on model

Here is the Grace in the one-time color “smoothie”, which ships in March. It will come in C-G and 30-44.

empreinte grace pink closeup

empreinte grace pink bottoms closeup

Excitingly, Empreinte is contributing the Grace in blush (below) or black to our raffle on September 26. If you’re in the area and haven’t already rsvp’d, be sure to do so!

Empreinte Grace

Finally, the ever-popular Melody isn’t going anyway anytime soon, but Empreinte has added a new continuity “color”: gold thread.

empreinte melody gold thread closeup

They took things a step further at Curve by beading and embroidering the Melody live at their booth.

empreinte embroidered melody in my hand

empreinte embroiderer 2

empreinte beadwork description

(Amelie’s day job as a prototype engineer actually involves grading the bras.)

empreinte embroidery step 1

empreinte embroidery on mannequin

You’ve probably noticed that every bra I’ve mentioned goes to a G cup, but Empreinte currently offers two styles that go to an H in their full cup shapes: Thalia and Irina (C-H from a 32; to a G in 30). The Thalia “lagoon” color has been out for a while, so it may be difficult to find in an H cup in anything other than neutrals, but look for a gorgeous turquoise called “Pacific” in March (you can see it peeping out from beneath the smoothie Grace above).

As for Irina, when I saw it in “Byzance” on the Bits of Lace website while researching for today’s post, I realized that I have been seriously behind in covering Empreinte! This FW15 color just shipped on August 15, so it’s still available in H cups from a 32 band and to a G cup in the 30 band (in the demi shape).

empreinte irina

I made up for lost time by contacting Empreinte for information on the FW15 styles, and I post the pictures they sent me after the jump for those of you who love looking at luxury lingerie that fits big busts as much as I do. I also post some of the SS16 swimsuit styles . . . just because. Enjoy! [Read more…]