Kiss Me Deadly

Join the deadlies for news and deals!
Your basket:   empty
Sign In Your Account

September 2015

« August 2015

Competition entry: what makes Kiss Me Deadly special to you?

Posted 29/09/2015 at 10:07 Comments

This is the first entry in our writing competition - we asked you to answer the question "What makes Kiss Me Deadly special to you?"

Thanks to Leanna (not her real name) for her reply, and Nerissa for her photo.


Longline vargas girdle. Shot by Alison Webster. Make up by Charlie Jacks


"I'm not sure I can really get over my British-ness to fully explain how much I love KMD, as a product and a brand. My first foray into a more vintage style of underwear, sourced from smaller, independent labels was after developing vertigo. As with most of my health issues, stress played a part. When my whole world felt like it was spinning out of control, literally and figuratively, firm underwear helped me get through it. It was like a hug,centre-ing,reassuring, encouraging me to stand taller, straighter.

However, the sort of control underwear available on the high street left me feeling like a badly made sausage.

So I headed to the Internet and found KMD. Strong, feisty, stand out, a little bit naughty and challenging. How I used to feel on the inside. Between the demands of being a mother, wife, carer, along with my own health issues, I need to see it on the outside to stir that old sense of self into life. Whips,pistols and roses say 'strong woman' better then any other print I've ever seen on a set of underwear. Once I've donned my pants, girdle, stockings etc, I feel stronger. It's like a superhero outfit under my normal clothes...Wonder Woman!"



Invisible Illness Week: What do you fight for?

Posted 28/09/2015 at 14:54 Comments



In case you're new to this; I'm disabled but you can't see it. I write about it sometimes, so you can check out 30 things you might not know about my illness(es) here, my choices, my hopes, and what it's like to be disabled in the lingerie industry. Oh, and what to wear when you feel like your knickers are full of cacti!

This year's theme for Invisible Illness Awareness Week is "My invisible fight". And I started off all like, well what have you got, because god knows I get into enough arguments, but then realised actually, this year, I'm running out of go. 2015 marked my 10 year sick-iversary, and honestly, I'm quite fed up. It's been a very odd year, as I was much better for a couple of months, after they stuck a massive syringe full of lidocaine (a topical anaesthetic) straight into my bloodstream. In some ways, I think it's just highlighted for me how rubbish I feel most of the rest of the time - imagine having a hangover or flu for 10 years.

So what am I fighting for? All the same things as everyone else really - pay the bills, look after our families, see our friends, and you know, break down gender sterotypes whilst making nice pants. Obviously the last one you can season to taste ;)
Just I happen to do it with a ragbag of revolting symptoms at all times, because clearly, if I wasn't hampered by this stuff, I'd have caused WAY too much trouble!

Annual roll call time - how many of you have an invisible illness or know someone who has?

What does your lingerie mean to you? The KMD writing competition.

Posted 22/09/2015 at 12:08 Comments

Every now and then we get an email that isn't "where are my pants?" or "what size should I get?"

They're the emails from people for whom KMD lingerie isn't just something nice to cover up your bum with, and to me, they're very special.

Here's one of them:

"I can't wait for my package, I'm especially hoping the teddy is the perfect thing to live in for the rest of the summer! :) I've had a lot of health problems this past year, so besides being a wreck and feeling like total crap plus now having to accept/learn how to live with "fun" new permanent health issues, my body+body image have definitely gone completely sideways - it would be nice to not only see something I LIKE in the mirror for once but also FEEL a little better about what's in the mirror... Looking -but much more importantly feeling!- both "pretty" AND physically comfortable in something hasn't really happened for a long time... :/

It's funny, lingerie has kind of been my one impulse/indulgence through everything I've been going through. Medical crises take away a lot of your surface identity and personality real quick - realistically, who has time for makeup and dressing up when you're in such bad shape? But building a (humble) collection of beautiful lingerie has kind of helped me reclaim some feelings of identity, attractiveness and femininity... I *know* I'm not the only person who has found lingerie a powerful tool while dealing with health issues and life in general -don't they always say put on your fanciest pants and your boldest red lipstick to go out there and tackle a really bad day :)"

I also have plenty of health problems and yes, I too use lingerie and clothes as a way to improve how I feel - but I've heard from people who've been through all sorts of stuff that makes them find their KMD things much more meaningful than just limited edition scanties. And I'd love to hear more about that.

So here's a simple competition, no cameras required!

Just answer this question:

What makes your Kiss Me Deadly special for you?

Email your answer to, with permission for us to quote you without identifying you - or post it in the comments below!

The deadline is the 25th October.

The winner gets a £200 voucher and 3 runners up get a £50 voucher each.


9 ways fashion photos are unrealistic - without any photoshop at all!

Posted 14/09/2015 at 21:09 Comments

Once upon a time, I hated photoshop. I really thought that the thing that made the crucial difference between reality and the insanely glossy ads in magazines was the post-shoot editing, plus, I'd read the research literature and was pretty certain that there was a relationship between said difference and just how crappy women tend to feel about themselves . Though, it's super-difficult to research, because no-one will let you isolate children from every item of mass media involving picture of women for 18 years just to see what happens, never mind fund it!

Later, I got older, had a job that made me realise that while mass media has a sort of mild corrosive effect on the soul, it is as a mere emery board compared to the hacksaw of a serious trauma, and then got a job that involved fashion photoshoots.

But also swords, so that's ok.

It was at this point that I began to understand that photoshop is the icing on the cake of idealisation. Also, I'm not very good at it, and it's all based on techniques that have been going on ever since photography was invented, and that even before then we did illustrations that were idealised instead.

Want to plan a photoshoot that is completely out of this world, even without photoshop? Here's the brief and deadly guide! Including an UNEDITED SHOT! I expect my industry plaudits any minute now ;)

1) Choose a model who is a statistical outlier (i.e. wildly unusual)

Even when people choose models  for diversity . . . it's rare that you'd get someone "average". A size 22 model is usually as atypically proportioned as a size 8 model, and even commercial models (who are in many ways chosen because of their ability to be blank canvasses, i.e, bland) have faces that are for whatever reason photogenic.

Of course inevitably something will go horribly wrong and at the last minute you'll have to pick an entirely different model to do the job, but they'll still be just as not-average.

2) Choose a professional model.

Professional models spend way, way more time on their bodies than most of us do. If I had to spend as much time thinking about hair removal and skincare as Morgana does, not to mention answering inane questions about it, I would scream. Professional, experienced models also know what their 3D body looks like on a 2D screen - which is trickier than it sounds and involves an awful lot of being happy to endlessly check images of yourself and to do this wierd stop-start micro changes to posing. That shot of a model looking relaxed on a couch probably took 37 uncomfortable tiny contortions to get to. Check out Playful Promises behind the scenes video for an example.


3) Book a location or studio you have carefully chosen

Depending on what you are shooting for you'll use a more or less elaborate backdrop, but you'll spend some time and effort on this, unlike the average "yeah we're at a resturant for a birthday" slightly drunk camera shot.

We use plain backgrounds for shots intended for our other website, Hepburn and Leigh, because the people who use it are different and because it's a multi-brand retailer.

4) Light it up

From filters to wierd reflective thingamabobbins, I always expect the "start" of a shoot to be a minimum of 30 minutes of faffing with lights after we actually get there. Anna from Playful Promises has been having fun with purple filters this year.

Above: Deadly Red shot by Anna Swiczeniuk for the Lingerie Lovebomb campaign earlier this year

5) Spend even more time making up your model and doing their hair.

You know what I love? "Just got out of bed" fashion shoots. Because I KNOW that hair and make-up took TWO HOURS. I know cos I get told off by Morgana all the time for getting bored and talking and then there's lipgloss everywhere and no-one's happy. Models rarely seem to post make-up free shots, so here's my cheery, inexplicably pink face.


6) Style with thought and preparation.

Bigger shoots will have a stylist and yes, they really do run around going "Well I thought these gloves with this bolero, but dahling, it's just not working, we need to swap it out for the statement jewellery". But it's fine, because actually that will tend to work better for the shoot than the average person who dressed for work followed by feeding their toddler, when you tend to think more about what's washable at 40 degrees with other items (an eminently reasonable prioritisation).

7) Oh yes, also, ironing. I can't imagine most of you steam your bralets regularly, but for a shoot, we do. Don't even talk to me about how many steamers we get through. You'll also need a kit of pins, pads, tape and anything else you find handy for making clothes look better on bodies, though that may mean that from the wrong angle your model has a stegasaurus line of bulldog clips down their back.

8) Pose carefully, give feedback, keep checking what things look like, and remember it's way more important to get a great shot than represent reality. See below for an example:

Reality; Jess is 6 foot-ish. Morgana and Emmie are . . . not (oddly, all of them are the wrong height for most modelling agencies). To get a great shot with all of them in, we muck about with positioning so you have very little idea about scale.

Similarly, lots of people believe that Deadly Red (that'd be the redhead in the Lovebomb banner above) is a plus size model. In fact she's just petite and full busted, so she's no wider than other sample sized models. You can see this slightly better in this new shot from Playful Promises.


7) Take a MILLION pictures.

It's so easy now with digital - just keep snapping till you get a good one. Though time is money, hence why you still prefer working with professional models who have a clue. This is our screens post-shoot:

In my nightmares, thousands of tiny, nigh on identical models pose in faux stop-motion, all demanding to know what's working, whilst I try and check that all the suspenders are aligned and their garments haven't wrinkled.

8) Pick the best

This may involve a fight between you and the photographer, as "artistically" best is different to "shows of the product" best. Still, unlike real life, naff shots do not get uploaed with everything else, you just select one with some care.

9) Crop it, sort out it's tilt, and a few other basics.

I'm no editing genius but even I know a good or bad crop of a picture can make a heck of a difference. At the rate instagrams taking off, I'm guessing you do too.


Now you hit up photoshop.  Or, if you have someone who is a whizz at it, to the extent that it's cheaper to photoshop in a fancy background than it is to organise one (Hi! Morgana actually spends more time on our curtains than our models!) - THEN, and only then, do you much about in photoshop. Or potatoshop, as it's known in my household, possible due to my level of ability in it.

So here's the big reveal. I didn't think to ask for a shot of Lexy, our new, extremely not average but plus-size, bigger-than-G model, before the shoot, standing on the street. So all you get is the professional shot from the professional studio using talented people who both do this for a living, followed by the same shot (probably; I have 3 that are so similar I can't actually tell them apart) after editing.

Above: non-retouched image of Lexy

Above: after we've worked our evil photoshop magic

Feel free to disagree with me in the comments, but do you not think most of the work happens pre-edit?!

Will Kickstarter mean we attract investors? 5 disability issues that might put them off.

Posted 08/09/2015 at 15:59 Comments

Behind the scenes, Lydia and I are spending considerable time on our next kickstarter, and having some odd conversations as a result. After a workshop at Soho House she said "they reckon that if you kickstart it means investors spot you, the woman there said she'd been approached since she kickstarted, so maybe that will happen to us?" and I said I seriously doubted it.

Of course, it's possible that our alarming tendency to tell you things that have gone wrong would pt any investor off! We still don't know why the factory occasionally add 3 foot long garter straps to things . . .

I could be being cynical, but I think most investors are going to get put off by my disabilities - and Kaleidoscope agree, saying that research shows that many investors do not feel confident about a persons capabilities even if the business idea of a disabled person may be interesting and profitable. Bonus points to anyone who can send me published peer reviewed evidence!

That's because investors are usually looking at margins, turnover and rapidity of growth.  I've never run a business while I've been healthy - I started KMD about 8 years ago, but this year "celebrated" my 10 year sickiversary - so I can't directly compare, but here's just a few of the things I'm aware of that cause problems with my disabilities* (see footnote for details!) and the business.

1) I can't get to the post office. I know this sounds really stupid, but can you imagine all the times we need to just pop something in the post, paperwork, bits of elastic, samples? Anyway, they've closed all the local ones and the nearest is now a 40 minute round trip (without the time spent queueing and doing the post) even for a healthy mobile tall person. For me? Well, on some days I could probably do it, bit it'd wipe me out for a day, maybe two. The subsequent logistical tangles take up time, energy and occasionally cash that we'd all rather got spent on products or marketing. There's a host of niggly issues like this that I suspect I'd run up against with investors expectations.

2) Everyone assumes working from home is great, but actually,  I LOVE being in offices.  I like being around people, ALL THE TIME, I'm an extrovert who grew up in a crowded home and then worked in the care industry. My M.E is an introvert. Consider the sloth; a solitary creature that hangs out in its tree, only coming down when it really has to. That's basically what happens when you have M.E.
Which means I work from home, and try not to go totally demented from the subsequent social isolation. But what investor looks at a business that HAS to be run from my home and thinks "yeah, that sounds like it could get huge!".

It can actually be done - one of my favourite tech start-ups is pretty much entirely done by people working from their homes - but it's not what people expect.

My regular office colleagues are two cats.

3) I save on office costs, but in other ways I'm expensive. I can either use public transport, OR arrive at my meetings in a fit state to talk, but not both (if this doesn't make sense, think about what it's like when you've had flu, a hangover, or were pregnant; or try this chronic illness game if NONE of those have ever happened to you). So, my transport bill is pretty bonkers. I need special food, and special physio every few weeks. I use an office chair that costs thousands because normal ones induce the most incapacitating shooting pains after a while. I'm basically murder on the profit margins!

4) My insurance is insane, or impossible. Most small brands won't function without their founder so it's common to have life insurance. keyman insurance and the like, offsetting the risk of investing in us. Last time I asked for it (which was admittedly a very long time ago), I couldn't get it - I was actually told "the computer doesn't know what your illnesses are so we can't help". I can't imagine it'd be different now - if anything I've been diagnosed with more stuff, and haemophilia-type disorders especially seem to set off whooping alarums at financial institutions!

5) People tend to start their businesses by just throwing every hour they've got at it, and then when they have a rapid growth patch, doing that again to get over the hump, so to speak. I can't do that now, though it was my natural tendency before illness; I was  one of those that would meander all over the place and then write my essays at 1am the day they were due in. This worries people, because our notion that rewards come from working hard is so ingrained (even though it's basically wrong).


Day to day, I cope by working round things. Trying to value working smarter, not harder. Trying to remember that even feeling like I'm running on half-power, I've managed to keep a business afloat longer than most (hell, longer than some multi-millionaire celebs. Go on, see if you can work out who I mean!).  Trying to remember that plenty of people have special needs - I'm pretty certain that Karolina Laskowska's lace addiction issue counts, and if you have a kid, well, expect a host of extra costs to your small businesses (and yes, women and mothers also face extra issues finding investors). Still, I'm painfully aware at times that conventional investment would have some issues us, even if we put down the knives!


So I guess if kickstarting works, see you all at Crowdcube in a while? ;)


*I should probably mention, for people who are new to this, that I have M/E/C.F.S, Von Willebrands Type 1, Lichen Sclerosus and Vulvodynia, and a few other things. What that means is that I have a very limited amount of energy,  there's some stuff I just can't do, I'm in lots of pain, I have problems with all sorts of strange stuff like skin sensitivities, I have deficits in my memory and thinking, and I bruise and bleed too easily.

Small business maths; why we have to put up postage costs to the rest of the world

Posted 08/09/2015 at 15:19 Comments

For a while now I've known that we had a problem with our postage costs, but it's only after moving to a fulfillment service rather than running our own office that it's been easy to check what was going on.

The postage staff are camera-shy, but here's  . . . a picture of parcels! Sorry I can't make this exciting.

When I was first involved in online retail, which is about 15 years ago now, postage from the UK was done on weight alone. This was fabulous for us as we mostly sold hosiery, which can be surprisingly bulky if you get the really posh box packaging, but rarely weighs much.

Since then, the UK postal service has repeatedly raised its prices and changed the way it charges so that both weight and size are taken into account. Though they still seem to be one of the more economically priced and reliable postal services in the world (at least if you send things signed for), for a brand that tends to sell larger garments with heavy metal hardware (I'm talking about the suspender clips, people, we don't shift Metallica's stage set with each pair of knickers), this has been causing some issues.

I adore Playful Promises boxes for pasties and masks, but I am slightly concerned about the volume for postage.

Still, the figures are in and here's the good news; the costs of UK postage and EU postage are fine. No changes. I mean, by fine, I mean "our postage costs run significantly into thousands of pounds a month and if you ever run a business you should be aware that postage costs might easily be 20% of your turnover", but thats FINE, we can cope.

Don't even talk to me about the weight of tins. So cute. So handy. So MUCH heavier than the knickers in them.

The bad news? our average parcel sent outside of the EU costs us £14 to spend. We charge £10. These parcels are about 30% of the parcels we send each month.

That's a bit of an ouch. Actually, it makes me wonder if the reason that people charge the same price everywhere, when they don't technically have to, is NOT because VAT and ecommerce software tends to be difficult, but perhaps they are using the extra to subsidise the increasing costs of overseas postage?

Anyway; the important thing you need to know is if you are outside the EU: YOUR DELIVERY CHARGE WILL GO UP NEXT WEEK.

Sorry. But it won't affect whatever import duty your government has been charging you, and you've been paying about 18% less than our fans in the EU for the actual goods, so that helps, I think?

And now, for fun, tell me the worst ever delivery you ever got from a courier was? High on my most-hated list are Hermes, who like to deliver parcels to my hedge. Because what you need when it's raining is to pull a soggy cardboard box out seemingly hostile shrubbery!