They used to be considered unmentionables. Now women are not only talking about bras, they’re flaunting them. Madonna and Annie Lennox perform wearing not much else, and even the Maidenform Lady is flashing her form in prime-time commercials. It’s a development that Manhattan designer Andre Van Pier applauds. “A bra is an accessory that a woman must deal with every day of her life,” he says. “Why not glamorize such an essential part of her wardrobe?”
Van Pier, 27, has just unveiled his “Diamond Collection” of ultrasexy dress bras that are made to be seen. The shimmering, multihued designs are made from hand-cut crystals that are backed with nickel plate—”to help bring out the glitter,” he says—and priced from $1,250 to $2,500. For those even more financially endowed, Van Pier makes a line of gold, silver and platinum bras that retail from $1,650 to $2,750. (The metals are ground into dust, melted, woven into raw-silk backing and cooled to form thread.) Celebs seem delighted to have his support. Knots Landing vixen Donna Mills bought a silver halter model for $1,400. And Joan Collins and supermodel Carol Alt each bought the $1,400 strapless crystal version.
Van Pier, the son of an airline pilot and a housewife, grew up near San Francisco and later studied design in Paris. In 1980, he moved to New York and rang up his first sale, a collection of sweaters to Saks Fifth Avenue for $10,000. Now clients such as Liza Minnelli, Sophia Loren, Christie Brinkley and David Bowie troop to his midtown studio, where he presides over his $1.5 million business. There they can view his collections, including a made-to-order couture line with 24-karat gold designs priced as high as $45,000.
Though he is accustomed to exotic tastes, and to those who will pay small fortunes to satisfy them, Van Pier is surprised by the success of the bra line. “To be honest, I never expected women to buy the gold collection,” he says. “Thank God for the rich.”