Culture 17 September 2018
You might say lingerie designer Kaila Methven’s career started with girl meets boy. “I met this divine French man and he invited me to a party. He was a senior and I was a freshman in high school. We officially started dating in my later teens. I would see him every Friday night and spend the weekend with him. I would put on a striptease show and have a new piece of lingerie every time. I always kept it on and he never forgot even one. I had bras for every occasion. I fell in love with the fact that he fell in love with the persuasion of lingerie. This is what brought me to where I am today.”
Methven says the inspiration for her designs come from a variety of places, including, the Venice Carnival.
The KFC heiress is the founder and CEO of Madame Methven, a lingerie line that is “inspired by the intoxicating memories of falling in love” and that, Methven says, will “awaken the dominatrix in every woman.” Her pieces are known for “making definitive statements of female dominance.” Her designs are produced in silk and high-quality embellishments such as hand-corded dentelle lace appliqués, gold, Tahitian pearls, diamonds, emeralds, or sapphires “individually placed by hand creating a world of fantasy for day and night.”
She’s dressed Demi Lovato, Katherine McPhee, and the Kardashians, and her work has appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, and Business Insider. Methven was born in Santa Monica and moved to Paris when she was sixteen-years-old. She worked hard to get where she is, studying art and design at the historic fashion institute Esmod and receiving a Masters from the International Fashion Academy Paris, with extended training from Polymodo in Florence.
She offers several different lines under the Madame Methven name – Latrodectus, a haute couture line; Mademoiselle, a semi couture line; and LBKM, a more affordable line with pieces ranging from $20.00 - $80.00.
She also offers a service called Madame Methven’s Made to Adore, through which clients can access lingerie fittings with trained specialists in their showroom or even elsewhere. Members are also invited to special events, fashion shows, and the like. Think lingerie VIP.
Methven says the most rewarding thing about her work is the creativity it allows and how it makes her clients smile. “I love receiving messages and phone calls about the amazing experiences that they’ve had while wearing Madame Methven.”
As for challenges, Methven has had her share. She’s had professors laugh at her creations. She’s had people tell her she’d never make it, that she was a joke, that no one would ever wear her lingerie, that it was just a dream, and that she was a nobody. “Most people could not see my vision. But I had a vision of creating an empire, of selling a sexual experience. It’s a fantasy. Most people can’t read your mind and understand this. So, I forgive them.” Methven says the truth is that the only one who really can fully believe in your success is you.
Being the CEO of a company, she says, means there are always decisions to be made and that a positive attitude, an open mind, a lot of love, and plenty of passion for what you do are required.
Methven has enjoyed many happy surprises throughout her career. She won best international designer of the year twice. She was nominated as the most dynamic woman of the year in Los Angeles. She’s appeared on a variety of talk shows, had her work in a plethora of publications, and her work has been worn by celebrities, icons, and even princesses.
Methven says the inspiration for her designs come from a variety of places, including, the Venice Carnival. “It was created in the 13th century. During this time, you could become whoever you wanted, and everybody had the chance to be whoever they wanted for one night. Their costumes could be as extravagant as they wanted, the carnival set no limits on imagination and creativity.”
In addition to spending time living in Paris, Methven also traveled across Europe, which fueled her creativity in a variety of ways. Still today, she says, she is continuously inspired by all of the experiences life presents to her.
One of the biggest challenges Methven has faced, she says, is that she never really knows who her true friends are. “In business, you must be cautious, because everybody wants you for one thing. Loyalty, along with confidentiality, is very important to me. You must be aware always. To me, it’s something you just live with in everyday life and overcome as time passes.” She says she’s learned, and is continually learning to be strong, to trust herself, to follow her instincts, and to keep “the people with genuine interest in her well-being close to her heart.”
Methven says she she’s always dreamed of running an empire. The requirements suit her. Being the CEO of a company, she says, means there are always decisions to be made and that a positive attitude, an open mind, a lot of love, and plenty of passion for what you do are required.
In five years, Methven is expecting her company to hit between $6-10 million in profit. Ultimately, she’d like to have ten boutiques locally and internationally. “We don’t want to be remembered online only.” She says she knows that’s possible because her lingerie is designed to make men and women fall in love, again and again. “Let’s just say, you keep the lingerie on the entire time. I believe that every woman deserves to feel sexy and wanted.” Madame Methven, she says, is here to take lingerie to the next level.
Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.
In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.
What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.
Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.
Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.
While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.
According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.
In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.
Source-Alex Brandon, AP
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.
Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.
The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.