Whip not included

12.11.13

Fifty Shades of Lingerie

The cult novel gets a spinoff line of naughty knickers just in time for the holidays—but are these underthings too tame for BDSM fans?

Last summer, there was much buzz about a Fifty Shades of Grey lingerie line—bras and panties for women, boxers for men—designed by BlueBella, a British retailer that wanted to capitalize on the global BDSM phenomenon. “The books have played a significant role in shifting perceptions of female sensuality,” said CEO Emily Bendell at the time.

From Fifty Shades-themed wine to sexy hotel packages inspired by the book, businesses have been profiting from the erotic trilogy’s huge success since it hit shelves in 2011—and the money keeps pouring in for author E.L. James, who has made an estimated $100 million from the franchise.

Not surprisingly, the demographic is primarily middle-aged women—who also make up the book's prime audience.

Now, James has teamed up with Swedish clothing chain KappAhl to launch an “official” lingerie collection of bras, briefs, negligées, stockings, and a bizarre Venetian-style black mask. “It has been incredibly exciting and interesting to be involved in the process, from the production of the concept through the design to the final collection,” the novelist said of her hands-on role in the collaboration.

Not surprisingly, KappAhl’s demographic is primarily middle-aged women—who also make up the book’s prime audience. Meanwhile, some critics have declared the moderately-priced collection to be disappointingly tame in comparison to the novels, but a spokesperson for the company said they never really had whips and crotchless panties in mind. “Our collection was inspired by all of the million female readers of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, what we imagine they would wear and feel sensual in. We did not for a minute think about domination/leather aesthetic.”

Say what? Still, it's true that while the books have some risque passages, the Cinderella storyline takes precedence. It’s hardly shocking then that the new underpinnings forego chains and gag balls in favor of a more accessible, if prudish, alternative.