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Barbara Bentkowski

La Perla, 803 Madison Ave., nr. 67th St.; 212-570-0050

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Who’s your customer?
Someone with exceptional taste. We even have transsexuals who look marvelous. The best are men buying for women—the women often exchange their gift for a bigger size. We also have women in their seventies buying thongs.

New York women aren’t prudes.
No. We’re just like your neighborhood OB/GYN. You’d be very surprised at the number of women who buy our leather whip. Very tailored, stern businesswomen in their late forties who are like, all of a sudden, “I want that.”

How into lingerie are you, personally?
I probably have close to 100 sets. I keep them all very meticulously in a walk-in closet specifically for lingerie. Yes, sick, I know.

How do you wash them?
I hand-wash in the shower; they go right in with me.

What’s the best way to go lingerie shopping?
Alone. It’s amazing the nasty things that friends say to each other—“You look fat in that.” We see a lot of envy.

Most memorable customer?
An elderly woman trying on a T-back swimsuit backward. She tried to fit her bust into this little T, and I just stared at her, thinking, Oh, my goodness.

Do you like getting lingerie as a gift?
I warn people not to. If I got something cheap, I’d be so turned off that that would be the end of that.


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