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Her Business Is Fulfilling Fantasies : Lore Caulfield Creates Lingerie Wardrobes in Silk

Times Staff Writer

A woman obsessed with silk panties was never meant for the mundane world.

Lore Caulfield calls her lingerie a passion and a compulsion.

“It’s the ultimate snobbery,” she says.

Waxing on about undies--"It’s like perfection from the inside out"--the designer behind the Lore lingerie label confesses to having eight drawers of the goods at home.

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“I wear white more than anything. But it’s fun to have the red,” she says.

Wears Designer Suits

Lore, who also wears narrow designer suits and spiky short hair, will find white, red and all hues of her lingerie in a new boutique devoted to her designs, which opened earlier this month at Neiman-Marcus Beverly Hills.

Creating lacy slips, teddies, pajamas and Harlow-esque gowns somehow feeds her fantasies, she says.

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“There isn’t anything out there that comes close to what I have going on in my own head,” she smiles. “Images, conversations, dialogue. I see the world peopled in characters on the stage. It’s a play, and I get annoyed when people don’t play the part.”

Lore learned the part of designer just a decade ago, after an early career in the film business. A Chicago native who studied drama at Northwestern University, Lore moved to Los Angeles in the late 1950s, hoping to make it as an actress. She recalls that her main Hollywood success was to be typecast as a nurse.

She later formed a film production company, working on commercials and sales films. Not that show business suited her completely.

“The only thing I absolutely hated about the film business,” she notes, “was getting up early. I just don’t function well at 4:30 in the morning.” These days, she arrives at her West Los Angeles factory at 9 a.m., directing what she calls her “cottage industry gone awry.”

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A New Career

She started the firm after noticing that there was no silk lingerie in the stores with which to reward herself--her habit at the end of a film project. When she finally found a lone bolt of silk Charmeuse in Beverly Hills, she stitched a pile of bikini panties and sensed a new career in the works. No matter that her only design qualification was “a real good eye.”

Since her first design attempts in 1975, Lore has diversified into the kind of lounge and home wear that some customers take for party clothes.

“People will wear them out, and they wear them to bed, and have them dry-cleaned in between,” she says, adding that one customer got married in her silk, one-shoulder nightie.

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The Lore line ranges from a $32 panty to a $900 cashmere robe. Her firm also produces lower-priced lingerie under the Lala Soie label.

Lore lives in Encino with her husband, Jack, four dogs and an intense flower garden. She also keeps an apartment near her midtown New York showroom--all fuel for the daydreams and designs of a one-time future star.


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