Maison Close: Breathing new life into seductive lingerie

by Kelly Blank

Despite the sensual and intimate nature of Maison Close lingerie, the flirty lace details and delicate materials which embrace every curve have made teasing appearances in the public eye. Flirty Maison Close catsuits and garter belts, just to name a few, have adorned famous celebrities in magazine editorials such as Madonna in Harper's Bazaar and even a music video for Rihanna. Without a doubt, at the very least his lingerie has made you blush at first glance, yet for the woman embracing the lingerie, she is boldly reinvented.

Throughout all collections, it is clear that the French lifestyle has inspired the romantic designs of Maison Close. Nicolas Busnel, the mastermind of the brand, grew up in Paris but spent thirty years in Marseille where he has a home in the hills. The strong influence of French culture is fully embraced by Busnel, and is transferred into all concepts, hence the name he is often referred to as: Monsieur le Francais. However, Busnel is also clearly influenced by special characteristics of women - their willpower, personality and thirst for freedom. He often cites that he is particularly attracted to a woman's character - her allure, elegance and emotional intelligence. So he crafts luxurious lingerie pieces to reflect this appreciation.

Busnel's background prior to becoming a lingerie designer is interesting. His original training was in applied arts and he has worked as a graphic designer and an artistic director in communications and marketing, with a specialisation in corporate identity. In 2006, Busnel launched the Maison Close lingerie brand. Similar to many other designer's beginnings, he noticed a gap in the lingerie market which he wanted to close. Busnel was seeking lingerie which suited his personal taste: modern, sheer, nice to the touch, and more chic than traditional lingerie available at the time. He had a yearning for visual and photogenic lingerie, which could be affordable and also placed at the heart of women's identity and style. This idea marked the turning point in the erotic aesthetic market.

It is clear that one aspect which separates Maison Close from other lingerie brands is that the creative designer is a man. Perhaps this could be one aspect which is desirable and successful about the brand. Since its conception, Maison Close has claimed a more audacious identity which sets it apart from other French brands. Why? The evidence is noticeable in the styles, designs and fabrics chosen, which very few designers have dared to work with. It is curious that a man could bring sensitivity to the process, but after seeing the unique vision of Maison Close lingerie, the concept becomes clearer. 'A man sees lingerie as the extension of a woman's personality. Creating lingerie is a way to seduce a woman, and to honour her,' Busnel clarifies.

Most lingerie across his collections is the celebration of delicate femininity: sheer material, wispy and nude shades, subtle references, and a thoughtful regard to detail and finishing. The careful selection of fabric are a reflection of Busnel being guided by his impulses, without thinking about what is expected of him as a man. One of his favourite fabrics to work with is microfibre, which is opaque but becomes transparent upon stretching, depending on the light. Particularly unique of Maison Close and its business model in the fashion lingerie industry is that most of the collections are retained as long as they are in demand. Take for instance one of the first collections of Maison Close, Villa Satine, which continues to be a best seller. The seductive mingling of satin, delicate lace and bows in this collection lend it a timeless addiction.

The softness of fabrics, their lightness and transparencies are conferred through lace and are popular throughout all collections, allowing designs to 're-conceive nudity'. Busnel plays with nudity and views it as an intimate part of a free, modern and confident woman. 'It's about creating opportunities,' Busnel says, 'It is not a product to only wear under your clothes. It is lingerie that you choose to dress up your body and your mind with. Depending on your mindset, you will choose the underwear that will fit your mood and act as armour for your intimacy.'

The current collection, La Directrice, continues to impress with a classic and seductive style. Inspired by strong feminine personalities from the nineties, La Directrice is a mysterious blend of lighthearted and sweet, as well as provocative and unapologetic femininity. Busnel's favourite piece from this collection is the thong body, a long sleeve bodysuit with removable garter suspenders. This piece closely embraces the silhouette, hugging the arms and neck with exquisite lace details and romantic finishing on the cuffs and around the neckline.

Although Busnel's creative and innovative eye for fashion lingerie is innate, the process for designing collections can take up to several years to finalise. Designing collections from home, he transfers ideas onto paper, first drawing a few sketches, especially of the 'key' piece - the one which inspires the fabric. 'Then I look for the fabric, which sometimes is the longest process. Once I finally find it, I can add the final touches to the drawings and then develop the first prototypes.'

Building an entire brand from scratch was challenging for Busnel, and to build on it, even more so. However, he enjoys the challenge and takes just as much pleasure in designing the pieces as he does the women who wear them. 'What rejoices me most is to catch a glimpse of a strap that I recognise. To see Maison Close actually worn is an immense pleasure,' Busnel muses. Maison Close has turned into a brand with credibility for modern lingerie, and he is proud of all that he has accomplished, particularly the team he works with.

As we close the interview, he emphasises that taking risks is part of his design philosophy, and taking risks indeed he does. For the future, Busnel hopes to extend his creations to beyond lingerie, such as decoration, design objects and atmosphere. He also envisions opening a store in Paris and to create more 'risque'collections. For now, we can expect to continue being amazed by adventurous and indulgent lingerie pieces. In the FW2017 collection, Busnel will experiment with lace placed on fine and sheer nude mesh, 'so that the lace appears to hover on the skin.' This intimacy is precisely what makes Maison Close so popular - allowing women to discover a completely new relationship with their bodies. To wear Maison Close is to celebrate being a woman.

This article first appeared in the Spring/Summer 2017 issue of LOVEFMD magazine. Head over to to read an exclusive interview with Maison Close's founder and CEO Nicolas Busnel.

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