A cup above the rest; is it worth it? by cayte williams

Your biggest assets need tender loving care, but even La Perla isn't worth pounds 116

The Suit might be this season's essential item, but in evening wear, ultra-glam is back. And if you're going to be glam on the outside, you'd better be pretty sexy underneath. Best get yourself a plush, lacy bra, and there are mounds of them to choose from.

La Perla makes its bras in Bologna, a city that established its reputation for luxurious corsetry as early as the 19th century, and is a favourite with the likes of Claudia Schiffer and Madonna. Now the company has opened its first London shop in Brook Street.

If your boyfriend buys you this bra, marry him immediately. The lace stretches perfectly and will hold your bosoms in well while giving them a natural shape. It is the most comfortable bra I have ever worn, and, considering the amount of lace it contains, this is no mean feat. The underwiring is softly padded for comfort and there are strong mesh panels either side of the cups for good support.

So, why is this bra so impressive? "There is a depth of quality, craftsmanship behind the products," says Peter Murray, La Perla sales director. "You can wear the same bra for a year and it will feel the same. Leavers (or embroidered) lace is made from looms that take 2,000 yarns at a time. Each design has embroidery added over the lace, which takes days to do. The yarn's elasticity is tested as the looms do the weaving and the jacquard is so complex that it takes the same amount of time to make two and a half metres of it as it does eight or nine metres of normal lace. Also, the Lycra fabrics have to be left for 48 hours to settle and we can only cut eight layers at a time, when most manufacturers of bras cut 40."

I took this little piece of luxury and a cheaper version - a Gossard "Gypsy" bra which costs pounds 19.99 - to Sparkle Moore, a collector and expert on lingerie. "You can definitely tell the difference," she says. "There is no lining in the Gossard, while the La Perla has a beautiful support lining, so without having lots of boning and wires you still have all the support pushing you in the right direction. The lace is superior with all this extra embroidery work.

"The Gossard is just cheap nylon lace," she continues. "I think the Gossard is worth the price but I wouldn't pay pounds 116 for the La Perla. It's still only nylon, not cotton or silk lace, and it's not custom-fitted. I think that you are paying, as always, for the name."

Yes, but would you be delighted if your boyfriend bought it for you? "Oh yes, I would!" she says enthusiastically. Go get it boys.

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