When up-market lingerie retailers Rigby and Peller heard that the pop star Lady Gaga wanted to use its knickers in her latest pop video it was only too happy to oblige, sending the star seven sets of handmade frillies.
The only proviso was that, because the knickers were prototypes for the company's latest collection, Lady Gaga would have to return them. Unfortunately, the chart-topping singer appears not to have kept her end of the bargain. Four pairs of the knickers have been lost in transit and, because they are prototypes, production of the Rigby and Peller autumn/winter collection is now in chaos.
The exclusive firm, which provides underwear for The Queen, claims it sent the lingerie collection to New York for the singer – known for her hits "Paparazzi", "Poker Face" and "Bad Romance" – to wear in a new music video. But only three were returned in time for the Rigby and Peller catwalk show, which was staged on Thursday.
The three sets of underwear that made it safely across the Atlantic were brought back in luggage, but the rest of the collection was reported missing by couriers, according to Rigby and Peller.
A spokeswoman for the lingerie company said: "Obviously we were delighted that Lady Gaga wanted to use our new pieces in her next video but we did stress we needed them back in plenty of time for our press show. They are all handmade and unique designs that are simply priceless and are not available anywhere in the world, so we are really disappointed not to get them back in time for our major showcase of the year.
"The last we heard, the underwear was still 'Awol' and we are not sure when we will see them again. If we don't get them back then it could hold up the whole production of our autumn/winter 2010 collection as they are the prototypes."
The collection loaned to Lady Gaga – whose real name is Stefani Germanotta – includes skin-coloured basques with black contouring and matching high-waisted knickers, as well as sheer black lace bras and pants.
As well as the Queen, Rigby and Peller celebrity clients include Sophie Dahl, Leona Lewis, Stella McCartney, Isabella Rossellini and Gwyneth Paltrow. Last month Miriam González Durántez, the wife of Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, was also spotted in one of the firm's London stores.
The brand's exclusivity is reflected in the prices. Knickers can cost up to £90, bras £110 and corsets £180.
A spokesman for Lady Gaga said: "We have nothing to say on the matter." It is the latest in a line of controversial episodes involving the singer. Her bizarre costumes, hairstyles and outfits are the subject of constant discussion, amazement and bewilderment, as is her lifestyle: she has been forced to deny that she is a hermaphrodite and that she loses weight by eating baby food.
Rigby & Peller: A Brief History
*The company was founded in 1939 by Gita Peller, a Jewish refugee who had fled Hungary, and Bertha Rigby, the woman who took in Peller when she arrived in the UK.
In 1960, it was granted the royal warrant and became corsetmaker to the Queen, a position it still holds today.
Rigby & Peller specialises in made-to-measure underwear which can sell for nearly £200.
As well as Her Majesty, other royal clientele have included Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother. Celebrity clients include Sophie Dahl, Leona Lewis, Stella McCartney, Isabella Rossellini and Gwyneth Paltrow.