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Janet Reger

The full story of Janet Reger, a UK lingerie designer, reads like a fairytale.

In 1953, after a youthful student at the Leicester College of Technology delivered a matching set of lingerie- bra, panties and suspender belt-as her final year presentation, her inspired design immediately gained attention. A few years elapsed before Janet enjoyed the business success that her idea deserved, however in the meantime, Janet studied the disciplines and frustrations of mass manufacture by taking a variety of posts as a house designer for swimwear and underwear manufacturers.

Reger's ability to coordinate the cloth with the cut, the line with the fit, and the fashion with practicality and comfort was the key to her success. She always searched for the underlying idea of the garment and then worked out how it was best cut and made. From the beginning, she coordinated matching garments, a fundamental departure from the standards of the time when under-garments were black or white, with perhaps the exception for salmon pink corsets.

When she met her then to be husband, Peter Reger, on a kibbutz in Israel in 1958, a professional association as well as a personal one was established. Peter Reger started selling and promoting Janet's products, as well as marrying her inside three years. Subsequently they had a daughter, Aliza, and lived in Zurich, for a number of years where Reger was employed as a freelance designer for a number of European companies, before moving to London in 1965.

Once there, Janet's husband took samples of her matching lingerie designs to show buyers of Fenwicks and Selfridges, the leading department stores in London. Eagerly, they placed orders for Janet Reger's designs, which captured the liberated attitudes of the shifting social climate of the 1960s. Women sought to take pleasure in their underwear, and Janet Reger's designs in pure silk caused a sensation. In 1967, Janet Reger Creations Ltd was incorporated with a small workshop, a production factory, and wholesale clients. Media interest quickly associated the name of Reger with gorgeous, youthful, sexy underwear.

Reger next went into the catalogue business. "The Bottom Drawer" was a immensely successful catalogue, presenting a range of lingerie under her own label and trademark of the Dragonfly. This came from a range of hand-painted designs on expensive silks, wonderfully made, hand-crafted and decorated with lace and appliqué, they were sumptuous items, and exceptional. Celebrities from around the world called in on the workshop as there was no shop and Bianca Jagger, Angie Bowie, and HRH Princess Anne to name but a few were among the first clientele. It was just a matter of time, when a retail outlet was required to meet the demand and interest evoked by her designs.

Janet Reger opened three boutiques in London, while in New York, Saks of Fifth Avenue made its first orders.

In 1982 a licensing deal with the underwear manufacturer, Berlei, turned out to be devastating for Janet Reger Creations Ltd and the company went into insolvency a year later, with Berlei purchasing the "Janet Reger" trademark. However, barely three months later, Janet Reger reopened her shop in Beauchamp Place and her loyal customers returned, snubbing Berlei's 'Janet Reger' collection. Berlei's market slumped, and it too went into liquidation.

After four years of litigation, Janet Reger was able to purchase her own trademark again, at a cost of £100,000.

When her husband died in 1986, Janet Reger continued to build her global business with her daughter. There were licensing deals with the now famous logo on bed-linen, window blinds, lampshades, slippers, hosiery, bathroom accessories, leisure wear, daywear, swimwear, sunglasses, spectacles, handbags, and even a perfume.

From the early nineties onward, well known American stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, and Nordstrum, as well as a string of boutiques on Beverly Hills' famous Rodeo Drive, all stocked Janet Reger items, whose charm extended as far as Japan and Dubai.

Lingerie Uncovered

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