Canadian-born, London-based Chloe Rogers, founder and CEO of Scarlett Gasque, the luxury lingerie company specializing in corsetry, has already been profiled in Vogue and her brand featured in Elle UK's pick of the best lingerie brands to shop in 2023. Named after the founder’s two grandmothers, Scarlett Gasque imbues its covetable candy-colored lingerie with a retro Hollywood glamor, attention to detail, and love of luxurious materials in an all-out celebration of sexual freedom that will permit you to break out your inner bombshell. The brand’s first ad campaign was shot by Ellen Von Unwerth who came to fame photographing supermodel Claudia Schiffer for Guess in 1989 and whose services have been in demand ever since by Vogue, Vanity Fair, Interview and Rolling Stone, and brands such as Ralph Lauren and Dior. FashionUnited spoke to Rogers to understand why Scarlett Gasque has so piqued the interest of the fashion world as she plans her entry into the US market.
You graduated from CSM with a degree in Fashion History and Theory so why did you decide to launch luxury lingerie?
I became inspired by feminist politics within burlesque and wrote my dissertation on the topic. I traveled Europe’s burlesque hot spots and fell in love with the costume. The pieces are so beautiful and unique and I wanted to create something for a mainstream market that was easier for people to get their hands on that still had that showgirl element.
How has being a self-described “corset collector” influenced your brand?
I spend hours online researching corset makers. I know how to get access to authentic corsets and my friends often wondered why my corsets sat so differently on the body compared to their mass market ones. Scarlett Gasque offers authentic corsets with spinal boning and all the detail but with modern sizing. I noticed that many of the corsets from established luxury lingerie brands had difficult sizing. Friends who needed an extra large corset found that the chest didn't fit because they had size A cups while the larger sizes only came in DD cups. Or small women with larger chests couldn’t buy the corsets because they would only come in an A cup. There was no in-between. I wanted to create a corset that could fit any waist size and chest. We started testing that with our Pearl Basque corset. You can buy it in a Large with an A cup or an Extra Small with a DD cup. Most women don’t fit the standardized sizing.
Which lingerie brands do you consider your competition?
I’ve focused so heavily on the corsetry side and still feel I’m exploring lingerie which I find very exciting but I’m so new to the space. I would say luxury-wise we are similar to Agent Provocateur and La Perla, but innovation-wise I’m more like certain sellers on Etsy or brands like Fleur du Mal. We occupy a middle space.
Describe the feminist politics within the burlesque space that inspires Scarlett Gasque?
Burlesque in itself is political, but people tend to overlook that because of the glitz, glam, and sparkle. At its core it was intended to push social norms, at a time when women showing their ankles was once risqué, or then it evolved to showing the knees. Josephine Baker was such an amazing figure and through her art she mocked men, in a way, and made fun of them. It was very for the girls which I loved. In Europe I became really interested in Neo-Burlesque.
Is Neo-Burlesque the new generation of the art form?
Although we no longer have the social pressures placed on us of the 40s and 50s, we have new ones. Dita Von Teese, whom I love, is more about recreating shows of the past rather than challenging social norms, but Neo-Burlesque is more like drag, pushing the boundaries, making people feel uncomfortable, opening people up to accepting new things. In Paris I saw a show with a girl eating and doing other activities she would do in her private life, but because she was on stage it made people uncomfortable. It can be slightly weird, like performance art.
Having just graduated in 2019 what are the challenges of launching a high-end niche product?
My first challenge was that I didn’t draw but I didn’t want someone else to do it for me. So I spent a year teaching myself to draw and learn how things worked technically. The brand took about 3 years to develop. As a creative I can get so specific, wanting lace from Italy, satin from France, bows from Japan, but it was also about learning the technical issues to make the perfect product but do so effectively.
What advice do you have for other young creatives who want to start their own brand?
Don’t do anything by yourself. Be around people you can trust and take advice. Work together. Try to find a mentor or someone who can guide you, put yourself in spaces where that can happen. I had a mentor from London Contour Experts who help young swimwear and lingerie startups, and they taught me about production, ethical manufacturing, and even introduced me to the factory in Romania that does my production.
Where is Scarlett Gasque currently available?
We are selling in small boutiques in UK, in London primarily, but have been approached by Saks Canada, and we are in early talks with online stores. Our main focus is getting into boutiques so that consumers can try on the items which is important for us. We’re interested in Farfetch, and we’re speaking with fellow Canadians, Ssence. Otherwise it’s direct to consumer. We are planning pop-ups over the next couple years, including one in Vegas where there is a lot of interest in the brand.