EXCLUSIVE: Padma Lakshmi and Bare Necessities Cook Up Lingerie and Swimwear Collection

Bare Necessities, the lingerie and swim retailer, has teamed up with Padma Lakshmi, the Emmy-nominated producer, bestselling author and activist to launch Padma x Bare Necessities, an exclusive collection of lingerie, loungewear and swimwear.

“Obviously a person at my age has bought a lot of lingerie, but I also modeled a lot of lingerie when I was modeling in Europe,” said the 53-year-old Lakshmi in a Zoom interview Tuesday. “Lingerie is such an intimate thing. And there’s a lot of room for improvement.”

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With an emphasis on catering to the full-busted woman, Lakshmi and Bare Necessities designed a 19-piece collection of edgy bras, swimsuits, thongs, bustiers, bodysuits, loungewear and cover-ups that will be available starting June 6 on barenecessities.com for $12 to $138. Bras retail from $68 to $74.

“When Bare Necessities approached me with the idea, I thought this would be a fun, creative challenge. I wanted a nice mix of everyday staples, as well as a couple of pieces that felt a little dressier and sexy,” said Lakshmi.

Some looks from Padma Lakshmi's  collaboration with Bare Necessities.
Some looks from the Padma x Bare Necessities collaboration.

For the construction, Lakshmi worked alongside the specialists at Bare Necessities. “I designed a collection that I feel l works on every body, but I wanted to give special attention to women with a larger bust size,” said Lakshmi. “I hope the collection encourages women of all ages and sizes to feel sexy and feminine. Lingerie isn’t just the purview of twentysomethings with perfect bodies. I feel more confident in my body today than I ever did when I was that age modeling lingerie. I’m hoping that women will treasure these styles and use them in a variety of ways — in and out of the bedroom.”

Pam Rice, chief merchandising officer of Bare Necessities, added, “This collection is about empowering every woman — no matter age or body type — to embrace her own journey, in every stage of life. We believe in celebrating both versatility and femininity in our lingerie collections, and this partnership with Padma is a testament to that shared vision.”

A swimsuit and cover-up from Padma x Bare Necessities
A swimsuit and cover-up from Padma x Bare Necessities.

Lakshmi said she designed a seasonless collection and hopes that if it’s successful, it will continue. “I want to see what the market supports,” she said.

She pointed out that one of her favorite styles is the rashguard. “I detest wearing sunblock everywhere and feeling sticky. I don’t mind getting some sun on my legs. I like it [the rashguard] because you just zip it up and you don’t have to worry about that. And then when you come off the beach or out of the sun, you can just pull it down. And it’s great with jeans.” Her collection includes a ribbed black bodysuit that is long-sleeve with “a beautiful ‘u’ neckline, which I find very flattering on women with bigger busts,” she said.

“You know, I’m somebody who is a size 4 but I have a 36 double D, so I have to be confident and comfortable with what I wear,” she said.

Lakshmi has designed jewelry, but never designed apparel before.

She started with a mood board. “I also took a lot of guidance from the Bare Necessities team about what their customer is really looking for. I don’t want to do something that’s not really understanding the needs of their customer. So I really relied on them for a lot of counsel in that direction.”

She found out some fabrics that she gravitated toward wouldn’t lend themselves to certain designs, so there was a process of mix and match. “The temptation is to want to do everything all at once. That doesn’t make a cohesive collection. So we wanted to have a nice smattering of things for women that we wanted to be both comfortable but alluring and attractive to wear,” said Lakshmi.

In her own lingerie drawer, she said there are two parts: the stuff you take out on special occasions and the stuff you wear every day. “I sort of wanted to merge those,” she said. The line contains things like a snakeskin bra that can be worn under sweaters, a sheer blouse, or peeking out from under a blazer.

Lakshmi especially likes the dress with a keyhole in the back. She said she wears it all the time when she cooks. “I don’t wear an apron because your clothes always smell when you cook anyway. I just wanted something I could take off and throw in the washer, but still look cute and feminine and be comfortable,” she said.

Bra sizes range from 32 to 38, with cup sizes C through G, though the partners would consider extending sizing depending on the initial launch. Cover-ups range from size small to extra large, and swimwear runs between size 4 and size 16, although the bikinis are bra sized. Most of the collection is made in China.

Lakshmi said she wanted to make the swimwear comfortable for women with large breasts, too, and one of the suits features a peekaboo hole. “I want fully busted women to feel sexy, and I felt that that little keyhole was the answer. It keeps [the breasts] separated and has the neckline above. But then you get this little keyhole and you see the side of the bust just a little. You feel secure, and you’re not going to pop out or anything,” she said.

Lakshmi said she will be promoting the collection on her social media channels.

This is the first time Bare Necessities, which has been in business more than 20 years, has done a celebrity collaboration. The business was acquired by Delta Galil in 2020, and looking for ways to grow, Rice said.

“So we felt like a collection was a natural next step for us in order to do that,” said Rice. “And we were very fortunate that Padma had an interest in developing her own lingerie line. There was a lot of synergy between what Padma was passionate about and what we as a team are passionate about,” she said.

“I really think it’s going to sell out. I told someone the other day after Padma did her first post, I think that this is like lightning in a bottle,” said Rice.

“I just wanted a line that would be just as sexy as the stuff I used to wear when I was younger. With a little more consideration to my body structure and my needs. I’m a 53-year-old woman and as much as I’d like to think I’m in shape and feel good, it’s not the body of the 23-year-olds,” said Lakshmi.

Lakshmi is the creator of the critically acclaimed and Emmy-nominated Hulu series, “Taste the Nation,” which is the recipient of a James Beard Foundation Award top prize in Visual Media – Long Form. She also served as host and executive producer for 19 seasons of Bravo’s two-time Emmy-winning series “Top Chef,” which has been nominated for 47 Emmys, including her five-time nomination for Outstanding Host for a Reality Competition Program.

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