Dream of Ages Realized: Golden Underpants

PHOTO: Rococo Dessous "Alexandra" bridal set

It's time to scrap your tin long-johns. Golden lingerie has arrived.

Rococo Dessous of Switzerland, Monaco and New York has introduced a line of undies shot through with threads of precious gold. Prices for the thongs, bras, camisoles, slips and other 24 karat unmentionables range from $1,500 to $6,000, says Sascha Hertil, managing director.

"The innovation is the thread," he tells ABC News. "There has been gold thread before, but it used a different technology and could not be 24 karat." In India, for example, says Hertil, there is a long history of gold-thread-making that heats the metal, then steams it onto textiles. But the process does not work for gold of highest purity, which fails to attach.

"In our case, we gold-plate the thread on an atomic level." The process, he says, was invented two years ago in Switzerland. "We use atoms of pure gold—by definition, 24 karat."

FORTUNE IN GOLD AMASSED BY RECLUSE

A look-book for the collection explains that mankind's desire for golden underpants dates back to antiquity. "Tutankhamun wore linens embroidered with the precious metal. All great empires then followed." The Tsars, the Emperors of China, the Kings of France all shared the same yearning.

It was only with the French Revolution, though, according to the look-book, that the doors to everyone's someday having gold underpants were thrown open.

Which brings us to the present era.

Quoting from Rococo Dessous's literature: "Each object is produced from Swiss gold fabric, hand-stitched in New York and is made-to-order for our clients." Just as with bars of bullion, every bra and panty has a unique identifying number.

How difficult will gold underwear to maintain?

Caring for it could be agreeable for the owner's partner, since, according to the World Gold Council, the best method for cleaning gold is to use a mild cleansing fluid and to "polish the metal in a gentle, circular motion, making sure to cover the entire surface." One then repeats the motion, with a dry cloth. As the Council says, "Every effort you make to care for your gold will pay dividends."

BRA CAMPAIGN GETS LITTLE SUPPORT

Hertli tells ABC it's too early yet to say how the collection will sell, since it only debuted in May in Monaco. "We're in a growth phase," he says, "still building distribution. The Middle East is important to us, and Ramadan, which ends tomorrow, has been a dead period. We see the most excitement in the Middle East and Russia."

The advent of gold underwear would seem, self-evidently, a benefaction. But is it unalloyed? Plainly not.

One can imagine all sorts of complications, even dangers.

Ladies summering at hotels on the Riviera, for example, will run the risk of having their underwear stolen by cat burglars—albeit dashing ones, sporting neckerchiefs and wearing loafers without socks.

For that reason, the wise woman of tomorrow will want, before retiring, to take the precaution of asking the front desk put her underwear in the safe.

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