The Pleasure Principle

Kiki de Montparnasse: a lingerie shop so dramatic it requires three acts

From behind a sliding panel door emerges petite Kiki de Montparnasse ambassador and trainer Tiffany Testa, just a slip of a redhead in a saleswoman’s uniform that at first glance could be lingerie. The 30-year-old Las Vegas native has an aristocratic poise—not pompous, just worldly, which is perfect because I’m a stranger in a very strange land.

From the outside, the third Kiki de Montparnasse flagship boutique, which opened Dec. 3 inside Crystals at CityCenter, looks like many similar ultra-high end lingerie boutiques. It is only upon closer inspection that one realizes how much more there is to savor at Kiki than merely the sumptuous French silk nighties, lace camisoles, luxuriant robes and other dainty, pretty things. Like other first-timers, Testa gives me the official tour of Kiki’s three rooms, or “acts.”

Act 1 is familiar: those dainty, pretty things in Kiki’s signature colors of bordeaux, lilac, champagne and black, thoughtfully arranged with just a nod to the naughty. There’s a silk blindfold ($125), silk and lambskin My Tie Cuffs ($175 set) and a single dove-gray riding crop next to a set of seven panties ($65 each/$295 for the set) that give explicit directions to a partner who hopefully can read French. Kiss me, touch me, love me, spank me …

Act 2 is a one-stop seduction shop offering favorite steamy films (Belle du Jour, Eyes Wide Shut, Like Water for Chocolate), sensual music by artists such as Sade, D’Angelo and Bossa ‘n Stones, and erotic books such as the best-selling Sexstacy, Urban Tantra and the classic Kama Sutra. Original prints, vintage books and antique erotica from the personal collections of Kiki’s owners are all for sale and can be admired—along with a glass of champagne and a chocolate-covered strawberry—from a seat facing the jewelry bar, where high-end restraints double as jewelry (or is it vice versa?).

Across the board, most Kiki-wear does double-duty. It’s the notion of “sensual dress-up play,” apropos both inside and out of the bedroom. Lingerie is elegant enough to grace dinner or the nightclub, erotic accessories step out as jewelry. Explains Testa, “You can actually take your full outfit, drenched with Kiki, wear it to dinner, then come home and slowly peel off these layers,” avoiding the potentially awkward moment when a woman excuses herself and emerges from the bathroom as, say, sexy Bo Peep.

The luxury fashion and lifestyle brand’s sole mission, as it says on the Kiki website, “celebrates intimacy and inspires the romantic imagination.” And everything is made from the finest materials available such as French silk, lambskin, pearls, onyx and stainless steel. In such empowering surroundings, it is impossible to feel anything but sexy.

Act 2 is also where this tour gets serious. Sex becomes art, PG-13 turns to NC-17, and I learn a whole new vocabulary: “instruments of pleasure,” “play session,” “a sense of presence” and “partner play” versus “self-love.” Faced with such fresh, frank openness I might be intimidated but for my guide’s assuring, articulate and straightforward manner. Showing off the instruments, Testa rides my emotions like a sensitive gas pedal, and I am at ease even when handed the signature 10-foot-long pearl restraints (strung on military-grade metallicized silk; $2,400), vinyl restraint tape ($25), sex dice and photographer Man Ray’s coffee-table book showing a nude-but-bewitching Kiki, his young, bohemian French muse.

Kiki’s clientele includes the traditional bachelorette parties, wedding showers and honeymooners, but also same-sex couples and couples looking for a little spice after 40 years together. Naturally, in Vegas, there are also couples who have been together just minutes, so for everyone’s convenience, pre-packaged kits group related notions together, such as the Deluxe Intimacy Kit ($275), Bonds of Love Kit ($250), and the more intense Restraining Arts Kit ($995). As concierges of romance, ambassadors such as Tiffany—as well as Svetlana, Dijana, Veldina, Chong and general manager Chelsea Voudouris—will also personally assist in selecting best-sellers such as the Jellybath ($45), which turns your bathwater into fluffy, warm, lavender-scented Jell-O. Most leave with a fun new instrument of pleasure, a sexy panty or a boudoir candle. Some, on the other hand, leave with an entire sex trousseau.

Act 3 brings it all together. It’s “the most romantic of all three rooms,” Testa says. Here, costumed mannequins live in the context of a bed equipped with leather restraints and suggestive pillowcases ($225). It’s quieter, darker and the intimate attire takes on fantasies, such as the silk French maid get-up ($550), a feather capelette and a set of unique knot-and-fringe dresses reportedly made by an anonymous female singer with time to kill on her tour bus. Accessories, too, trend toward the dramatic, with collapsible top hats, mile-long lambskin gloves, artisan nipple clamps and masks by the same designer as those used in Eyes Wide Shut.  

Act 3 is also home to the Couple’s Room, a private dressing room, which Kiki ambassadors will stock with all kinds of incredible lingerie and accessories. The couple goes in together—he to his small leather club chair (all the better to gaze up at the object of his desire) and she behind—or not—a gauzy curtain. Within, and aided by replenished champagne, she can demo her outfits to his delight in favorable lighting labeled “before,” “during” and “after.”

Much of Kiki’s offerings are available at Still, nothing can replace taking the Grand Tour and a visit to the Couple’s Room. Finding a willing plus-one is not likely to be a challenge here, either.

A Kiki Sampler

Belle du Jour Romper. Not exactly the same as in the movie, but likely to have the same effect on one’s partner. The French silk one-piece romper (not pictured) comes with silk lace pockets. Available in Kiki’s three signature colors: bordeaux, lilac and champagne. $450.

Onyx Restraints and Lace-Up Panty. The Ingénue Corset Panty is made of hand-crocheted French silk lace. (Available in black, white and champagne, $185.) Onyx Restraints are 10 feet long and strung on military parachute-quality metallicized silk. $1,800; $2,400 in pearl.

Love Potion. A unisex blend of sacred aphrodisiacs with which you can safely dose your beloved’s drink. Ingredients include sarsaparilla, Ashwagandha, Muira Puama, honey and crushed rosebuds, with a taste not unlike green tea. $30.

Aqua Erotica. This volume of 18 erotic tales printed on vinyl pages goes with you into the bubble bath, hot tub or beside crashing waves in the world’s first waterproof adult book (Three Rivers Press, 2000). $20.

Golden Handcuffs. Real standard-issue Smith & Wesson handcuffs are plated in 24-karat gold. The included matching keys make an interesting and suggestive conversation piece when worn
as jewelry. $350.