In 2020, New Zealand designer Chloé Julian launched lingerie label Videris, a culmination of 15 years spent working with some of the biggest names in the lingerie industry.
It's been a huge change of pace for the sought-after designer who moved to London early in her career to design for Stella McCartney Lingerie, David Beckham Bodywear and Agent Provocateur, before being headhunted to launch Rihanna's hugely successful Savage X Fenty.
Despite her impressive portfolio, one that could’ve seen her continue working with high-profile brands, two years on from launching Videris, Chloé is grateful for the opportunity to slow down and hone in on something wholly hers. "[I've now found] more balance in my life between career and family," she says, Zooming in from her home in Auckland, New Zealand. It’s given her the time to not only explore her own creativity, but to really interrogate what fulfilment and success look like in her life.
There's a real confusion as to what it means to be successful. For younger people it's almost as if success is linked to popularity, but they are actually two completely different things. I worry that they will only consider themselves successful if they are popular
– Chloé Julian
Right now, Chloé's success comes from feeling like she's doing something that matters. "For me, it's about women's bodies, body positivity and showing up for my family," she explains. These traits are embedded into every facet of Videris, though she admits it was the years spent working with the likes of Stella, David and Rihanna that taught her the most important lessons.
Chloé grew up in New Zealand and studied biomedical science before she moved into design at Wellington’s Massey University. “Coming from a relatively small “big town”, I never really thought of fashion as a job…,” Chloé laughs. She started out designing clothes for herself, her friends and family, before pursuing it as a degree. When she graduated, she was selected as one of four to take on post-graduate work with global leader in intimate and apparel, Bendon. This is where Chloé really got her start and chance to impress.
“They were really invested in graduates at the time…we did pattern making, drawing and sketching and they also had a sample room where we learnt how to sew. I learnt all of the technical aspects, which I think is different for designers these days who don’t learn how their designs will be executed,” Chloé says.
At just 26, she moved to London and took over as lead designer at Stella McCartney Lingerie. “I was very young to get [that role], I really did get chucked in the deep end,” she says. Working for a fashion company who has ready-to-wear collections like Stella McCartney’s, Chloé initially found it difficult to keep up.
“We could never truly align with the ready-to-wear because lingerie works so much further in advance. We needed around a year’s lead time, whereas the ready-to-wear could go from creation to being on the runway about a month later,” she says. Designing a bra is more time consuming, plus there’s the manufacturing which takes longer because there are more sizes and components that need to be coordinated. “They always came out together looking good, but we could never be on the exact same page.”
Despite the obvious kudos you get for working with celebrities, designing alongside high profile names wasn’t the end goal for Chloé. “I didn’t really ever get starstruck, I think I can work in quite a good professional capacity with people like Stella McCartney, David or Rihanna,” she says. For Chloé it was about designing lingerie that not only the brand would approve of, but those wearing it would reach for time and time again.
Sometimes what [a celebrity] asks for won't be the right choice. I'm okay with saying, ‘well, we can do that but it would affect it in this way’. I’ve learnt to be comfortable in my expertise and to be honest
– Chloé Julian
When it came to designing the Savage X Fenty lingerie label in 2017, Chloé says Rihanna was there every step of the way. “Rihanna was very involved, she wanted to put her stamp on everything.” Chloé managed to release the line in just under 18 months, which was no small feat. “Launching a new brand in a short time frame is obviously incredibly difficult.” At any one point she says her and her large group of designers were working on up to three seasonal drops.
“It was ambitious because [Rihanna] wanted to do what they call straight, curvy and varying. I don’t know any other brands who do that all in one line,” Chloé says. “There was a sheer volume and amount of tasks you needed to do, plus travel on top of that.”
Chloé was working from home (where she lived with her husband and first child) in New Zealand and travelling to Los Angeles every month. “Sometimes I’d be gone and I didn’t know when I was coming home, I was exhausted,” she says. All while she was living this quite intense lifestyle, she was under a strict confidentiality agreement to not tell anyone what she was working on. “I was consumed with this massive part of my life that was a complete secret.
Rihanna’s company said [Savage x Fenty lingerie] was one of their only brands that got to launch without the news being broken beforehand
– Chloé Julian
Though the launch was extremely successful (the 40-piece debut collection sold out in under a month), Chloé couldn’t keep going. “Health wise, it wasn’t possible to continue at that pace. The pace of design, the pace of travel. They really required a decision of being all in for your job or for your family. And in the end I had to say that my family was my priority.” She left on good terms and took the next six months to, in her words, “chill out”.
Slowly the idea for Videris surfaced during her time of recovery and living a more sustainable lifestyle. Using her design experience and her interest in holistic health, Chloé debuted a line of soft, wireless cup bras that looked luxurious, felt comfortable and actually provided support. It filled a noticeable gap in the market for soft cup bras that actually showed considered style.
“The fabric is the key; it’s what really started it all … Up until I stopped my job at Savage X Fenty I didn’t think about the fact that some [lingerie] materials are just like wearing an onion sack. [It doesn't make sense to be] buying an organic cotton T-shirt but wearing a synthetic bra,” she says.
Many of the materials Chloé was working with while designing for high-end labels were a mix of aesthetically pleasing, but made from fossil fuels, lace, chiffon, tulle and mesh. These materials were used to create some of Stella McCartney’s most popular vintage lingerie looks, to execute Agent Provocateur's opulent appeal and to accommodate Savage X Fenty’s size-inclusive and unforgettable sultry sets (as demonstrated by powerful women on our screens).
While Chloé enjoyed designing for those labels, when it came to her own brand she veered in a different direction. She created lingerie with an overall wellbeing approach, incorporating better materials, intuitive design and colour therapy. It took almost two years of research and development to land on the right style and on a material that’s natural, breathable and better for the environment: TENCEL lyocell.
“I think a lot of people associate being supported with being uncomfortable and that’s actually not true,” Chloé says. Designers are now reclaiming what sexy looks like and how it feels. For Videris, sexy is being comfortable and feeling empowered. Every bra and pair of underwear is designed with all the right components to accommodate the natural swells and lulls in your breast size unlike a traditional underwire style. It’s what makes Videris’s range so unique.
Chloé lights up when she talks about Videris. It’s a clear indication that those years of hard work, long hours and time spent designing for celebrity names were all part of the journey to get to where she always needed to be.