lingerie in Vienna
The Austrians take their ornately creative underwear almost as seriously as they do their cakes, coffee and opera. The best place to linger over the lingerie is Karntnerstrasse, Vienna's most famous shopping street. It is home to several sumptuous display windows of underwear fit for a Hapsburg.
Start your lingerie tour at Palmers (22 Karntnerstrasse, tel: 43 1 512 2495). An eye-catching sight throughout Austria thanks to its distinctive green and gold shop signs, Palmers' glamorous advertising campaigns have featured the likes of supermodel Cindy Crawford, no less.
Feel like a model yourself by slipping on one of Palmers' coffee cotton vests edged with cream lace (Euro29/HK$300); matching boy-cut knickers are Euro17 a pair. But for pure show-stopping appeal slip into a Rose de Paris set in soft tulle with satin bows; the bra is Euro30 and the briefs Euro18. Palmers can be pricy but the quality is undeniable.
Palmers is almost as familiar a sight on Austria's shopping streets as the red crown that heralds Triumph. Find the Vienna branch just off Karntnerstrasse, in shopping paradise Ringstrasassen Galerien (shop 22, tel: 43 1 513 8275). Sculpting bras edged with delicate black lace such as the one in the Absolute Temptation range go up to a generous E-cup size.
The matching thong or hipsters complete the decadent look.
Absolute Temptation is ideal for daywear but if you really want to set pulses racing, then it's time
to fool around with the Hearty Temptation range. The floral embroidery that envelopes the slip, bra and string is so pretty you'll never want to go back to grey briefs again.
Another company challenging the underwear drawers of grateful fashion addicts is Agent Provocateur (below). Run by Joe Corre, son of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, the British firm has recently opened a small boutique, just north of Karntnerstrasse (14 Tuchlauben, tel: 43 1 890 4192), that has been turning heads with its inviting window display. The inside is just as seductive, crammed with lingerie nestling in what looks like a mirrored boudoir. A new range of slinky kimonos has just hit the racks and the selection of basques would give a burlesque twist to any underwear drawer.
For something less dressy, try nearby Hanro (13 Tuchlauben, tel: 43 1 533 9305). With the emphasis on soft, subtle, stylish underwear, Hanro uses quality materials designed for daily comfort and luxury. For everyday style, slip into something in the Bamboo range. Fashioned from soft yarn, the low-rise boy-leg briefs cost Euro24.90, with matching tank tops at Euro44.90; both come in black and white.
The winsome cream baby-doll nightdress (Euro139.90), in cotton fringed with elegant black embroidery, is one of the stars of Hanro's Victorian Dream range.
The lingerie boutiques are all loyal to their particular look, but if you're not sure what you're after, visit one of the grand department stores such as Steffl (19 Karntnerstrasse, tel: 43 1 514 310), where you can choose from designers such as Calvin Klein, Cotton Club, DKNY, La Perla and Wolford. Men are also ably catered for, thanks to Jockey, Armani and Burlington. Sometimes, in Vienna, undressed is best.