The pair worked with two fit models—one who wore a size 16 and another who wore a size 18—to get the sizing right. Elsesser’s own experience also helped some design elements, as seen in a top that is partially backless to allow the wearer to wear underpinnings but still show some skin. “I was like, ‘I need to wear a bra everyday.’ These things need to be considered,” Elsesser says. “I really value Alexia listening to these needs.” It was important to both of them that the clothes be easy, a word not normally associated with shapewear. “Ease can be a corset, ease can be sweatpants, but it’s the way you can participate in the world and feel at ease in this moment,” Elsesser says. “The community that I care about so deeply is not only deserving of ease but desperate for it. It’s not fair, and it feels like a denial of a certain level of humanity that everyone deserves.”
After 25 fittings and plenty of feedback from the models, Elsesser, and people on the Miaou team who Elkaim says occupy larger bodies, the fit was set. Now on to refine the aesthetics. “The collection itself is such a smoothie of Alexia and I’s personalities,” Elsesser says. “Alexia is very light, playful, and I operate from a more critical lens when it comes to clothes and images.” Alexia counters this assertion slightly by saying that Elsesser is more “mature and sophisticated.” Elsesser finishes the thought by saying, “I’m more serious, and she’s more light. I’m a burgundy and a forest green; she’s a beige and a pink.” The capsule features bold prints inspired by interior design, including a tangerine colored toile and an abstract blue and white print featuring vaguely discernable Baroque architectural details. In one particularly striking image, Elsesser wears the orange corset with the blue skirt and twirls. That combination in and of itself is a departure from the typical Miaou image, as Elkaim prefers matching outfits to such bold pattern clashing. “I feel really grateful that she trusted me,” Elsesser says. Elkaim says it was as easy as the clothes they made. “It was not difficult to relinquish control because there’s so much trust in her vision,” she says.