Frederick’s of Hollywood Goes From Racy to ‘Real’

The director calls action and the merriment unfolds as four young women sip drinks by the pool, cavort on downy beds, muse about their futures and sprint along Hollywood Boulevard in pursuit of a vanished mystery bag.

That pretty much sums up the doings in “Hollywood Dreams,” a 12-minute video produced by the Authentic Brands Group, the owners of Frederick’s of Hollywood, and PYPO, an online comedy platform for emerging talent. The video’s stars may not look just like you and me, but they do suggest a hybrid of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” and an early episode of “Girls.”

Billed as an action mini-series, the video represents an effort by Frederick’s, the fabled naughty undie brand, to swim with the tide, joining a roster of lingerie upstarts placing a wholesome reality spin on their marketing campaigns.

“Our intent is to widen our audience and reach a millennial consumer,” said Alexandra Taylor, the senior vice president for marketing and life style for A.B.G. (It owns some 50 brands, including Hickey Freeman, Nautica and, as of November, Barneys New York, and bought the company out of bankruptcy in 2015.) It hopes, it would seem, to sidestep the pitfalls that have dogged Victoria’s Secret; that company’s aggressively steamy marketing alienated younger consumers and cost the brand a marked dip in sales.

The project, directed by Stephanie Laing, whose credits include “Veep” on HBO and “Dollface” on Hulu, is also a bid by A.B.G. to update its image and court women who may be too young to remember the balconette bras, split-crotch panties and lavishly padded girdles that once were the company’s ribald stock in trade.

The bet is that a younger audience will respond to the show’s protagonists — including the influencers Hrush Achemyan and Amanda Steele; Blair Beeken, a comedian; and Ellie Lee, a television host — as living billboards for a brand they may not otherwise know.

The new look of Frederick’s is comfortable bodysuits, softly structured bralettes and camisoles worn over or under jackets, T-shirts and tattered jeans to reflect current street style — a move that deviates sharply from its history.

Established in 1947, the company can claim a string of innovations. Frederick Mellinger, its founder, is credited with inventing, among other novelties, the push-up bra, falsies and padded girdles, and even with introducing the bikini in the United States.

In its 1950s glory years, the company placed a premium on glamour, venturing onto untested terrain by selling an Americanized version of French lingerie alongside wispy negligees and slinky dresses with an hourglass shape.

Frederick’s was also one of the first established lingerie brands to woo a mass consumer, publishing racy catalogs and opening in malls, though some of its kinkier wares were advertised chiefly in the back pages of men’s pulp magazines.

Its alternately coy and candid catalog copy would likely raise eyebrows today. A page headlined “Men Love Fannies” highlighted an “open-end” push-up brief that exposed the derrière. Another introduced the with an open crotch “for intimate indiscretions.”

By the mid-1980s, though, stale marketing and cheesy workmanship had tainted the company’s image. Viewed widely as a faintly comical adult novelty brand, its undies were adopted in the ’90s by younger consumers as campy Halloween wear.

More recent efforts by the company to update and elevate its image included a Dita Von Teese for Frederick’s of Hollywood line, introduced in 2007 but unaccountably discontinued.

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