Sometimes we don't take notice of comfort until we lose it. Maike Ludenbach started this new project tired of unachievable standards and illusions. She wanted to portray real women, women who have a lot of things to do in a day and don't want to be stopped by anything. Löv's mission is to be an answer to this woman's demand for comfort. It gives an opportunity to give a voice to a new generation of girls who write their own destiny and choose the life they want to live without being conditioned by any aesthetic rule, fighting against body shame.
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Löv was created in response to the huge demand for comfort on the part of modern women who do a lot of things in a day. For this reason, Löv's underwear fits every body shape and movement to give extra-confidence. How did this idea come to reality?
Well, I think the idea of comfort is very important. Sometimes we don’t notice how important it is until we lose it. Have you ever gone out of the house wearing something that you thought looked great, but after two blocks walking you’re already regretting it because you can barely move, and consequently get too conscious about yourself – and can’t actually enjoy the moment?
Having been influenced by the media and the male gaze about how and why I should wear metal rings pressing on my rib cage, it felt like I didn’t want me or my amazing girlfriends to conform to that idea any more. There are so many memes out there about the first thing for a woman to do when she comes home is taking off her bra. I mean, I can totally relate to that, but I think this should change. There is something about being on the move and wanting to get things done where being uncomfortable interferes with my confidence and my mood in general. We girls want to do amazing things; we are fighters, we have shit to do. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
You've been involved in a lot of creative work from a young age, such as singing, modeling, art, and now design. It's like you have been living different lives. How did you end up in the design industry?
Yes, this is so true! (Laughs). I think evolving is important. I feel like I have lived many different lives, but I have learned from each of them and translated my experience into the next chapter. Especially nowadays, I don’t feel like me wanting to do different things is uncommon. There shouldn’t be any boxes people get to put you in. Thinking about that this morning I realized that in the end I am always trying to put the same message out there – everything I have done has been about trying to make people feel loved.
You said fashion has a big influence in you because it represents a lot of things that are happening in our society. Do you think Löv is the reflection of what is happening in the present and a vision of how our concept of underwear will evolve in the future?
Yes, absolutely. I think Löv is just a reflection of what women want today. We as a society are tired to live up to unachievable standards that we all know are just an illusion and not true. We suffer and we try to maintain this façade of everything trying to be effortless and clean. I feel nobody wants that anymore. We want to be free of expectations. I feel everybody wants to have the right to live out whatever and whoever they want to be, and not some photoshopped version of an old lived fantasy. New generations inspire change and Löv wants to be able to cater to that.
“The female gaze is relatively new, and so we are now discovering that period blood and armpit hair can be beautiful too. Because they’re real.”
So, this is the start of a new era of empowerment and self-confidence for women. How would you redefine the idea of "sexy" in order for it to be adapted to the present?
I feel this is a time of figuring it out. I guess "sexy" is always in the eye of the observer and as individual as we are individual.
Just look at artists like Petra Collins, Maisie Cousins, or activists like Adwoa Aboah. The female gaze is relatively new, and so we are now discovering that period blood and growing out armpit hair can be beautiful too. Because it is real. We girls live it every day, by ourselves, in our bathrooms, talking to our girlfriends about it… Why is it not acceptable in society? Who do we need to protect from the "horrors" of being a woman? Why do we sensor and shame our bodies in the process? These are questions that are being answered right now by some daring girls and women out there that I admire.
You believe that it's okay to be different and think differently. That can be applied to the important cultural icons that started revolutionary episodes of our fashion history like Coco Chanel, among others, who transformed the way women wore clothes and liberated us from corsets. Do you think if it wasn't for women like her we would remain stuck in those sexist standards?
Of course. But again, I believe she just offered women what they were asking for. And even before her, every change was incited through a daring woman who was brave enough to ask why things are how they are.
On our Löv Facebook page we have a feature every Monday called Inspiring Woman Monday where we learn a bit about important women in history who made important changes to be where we are now. It has been very inspiring to get to learn about these powerhouses. Also, I am currently reading The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf, which explains very well how and why things started changing. It is also a natural growing consciousness, which brings change.
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Do you think it's important for women to create underwear for other women, so that we can understand our problems and necessities better?
In the case of Löv, it happened absolutely organically. We notice how being female works to our advantage when making underwear every day. When we are developing a new design, we end up walking around the studio, wearing the pieces half naked, trying them out for durability and adaptability, and talking about food and sex. It’s such a relaxed, beautiful experience. And it is obvious that we just know what works best for ourselves.
What was working with Berta Pfirsich like? Did you want your work to be captured by another woman?
Once I started working on Löv it was imperative I would work with a female photographer. There are some great emerging female talents at the moment – many in Barcelona, where I decided to shoot the campaign for Tropic of Cancer. I knew Berta’s work for a long time and she just represents that kind of femininity and authenticity I was looking for. I wanted to do something that was natural, but a sensual aspect was also important to me. Just because we are doing something that doesn’t cater to the male gaze it doesn’t mean it is not feminine or appealing, and I think she captures that delicate balance really well.
Finally, what does Löv mean to you?
Löv to me is a means for a greater message. When I was growing up I felt a lot of pressure to be perfect in what society had taught me I should look like. I spent many years suffering from mental health issues and eating disorders trying to become that unattainable image. Unfortunately, I know I am not the only one who has been through this. I really hope that through Löv I can contribute to changing that image and give girls the tools and freedom to feel good in their own skin and to love their reflection when they look in the mirror.
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