Under soft light and in concentrated silence, seamstresses at a workshop in the heart of Paris carefully assembled fine Calais lace, embroidering it with onyx beads and sequins in delicate motifs.
>A couture bra takes two days to create, a bustier three. Corsets, meanwhile, require "real expertise, it's very French," according to Amandine and Vanille at the headquarters of luxury lingerie brand Livy.
A piece is made in 20 steps, sometimes with 15 materials. The process takes patience and precision.
The limited collection, made entirely by hand, is created exclusively for weddings or red carpet events, according to 39-year-old designer Lisa Chavy.
The rest of the line is ready-to-wear and designed to appeal both to clients who want something racy but discreet, and for those looking beyond function for lingerie that is a bit more showy and a fashion accessory in its own right: a subtle sexy strap, or bit of lace to peek out from underneath clothing.
Chavy, who has been a designer for mainstream labels, created the brand three years ago hoping to offer something more modern and fresh, in a country where lingerie has been world-famous for 200 years.
"I couldn't find any lingerie that I really wanted to wear," she said.
Forgoing cushioned bras and shape-altering pieces for a more natural look, Livy's designs focus on delicate, intricate patterns in lace for an elegant feel.
During a recent fitting before a photo shoot, Chavy carefully fastened an ornate gold clasp on a bra worn by one of the models.
Hidden clasps and other visual illusions, such as lacework resting on transparent tulle, are part of the playful seduction that is Livy's signature.
Lingerie should be refined, commanding and vulnerable all at once, Chavy said.