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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Finding Just the Right Ruffled Understatement

One temptation that has not escaped the Russian fancy is beautiful underwear.

In fact, practically everywhere you look in Moscow these days -- at many kiosks, at nearly every clothes-selling joint venture and certainly at every self-respecting upscale boutique in the center of Moscow -- there is significant attention paid to fancy, frilly, imported underwear. Italian teddies, French corsets, body suits in lace or lycra, push-up bustiers, and undergarments more good looking than they are functional are in plentiful supply this winter. So if you came to Moscow thinking that the only thing that you need to wear under your winter clothes were long-johns, you might want to reconsider.

Despite the plethora of lovely lingerie, however, there are relatively few places specializing only in underwear with staff to offer advice and facilities to try on merchandise. The Wild Orchid (Dickaya Orkhidea) on Petrovsky Bulvar is, however, the answer to just about anybody's more frivolous underwear needs. A glorified Victoria's Secret, this attractive shop stocks all of the accoutrements for the boudoir and caters to Russian women's -- and obviously their friends' -- growing appreciation for the very fancy.

Entering the store is like entering a beautiful, opulent boudoir. But first you must make your way beyond the slew of very husky men who preside over this very delicate shop. The sales staff is disarmingly cordial, and if you came to browse you might be put off by the saleswomen's aggressive desire to be of assistance.

Wild Orchid, an American company, stocks only the finest European lingerie and nightwear, with a full range of the house label "Vogue." And though prices cannot compare to the bargains at Victoria's Secret, they are not entirely outrageous here.

Rack upon rack of robes, negligees, nightgowns, pajamas, teddies, tap pants and tables of what appear to be hundreds of bras and panties feature celebrated names in underwear like Triumph, Natori, and Valentino, as well as many more esoteric ones.

If you do not mind dropping at least $300 for a peignoir made from the finest mint green polyester with a matching nightgown, you will be well-served here. Valentino also has a splendid nightwear set which includes robe and nightgown or pajamas, sold separately, that is made from finest cotton and could also cost you $400 or more. The range for night gear is large and the choice remarkable. Coming in virtually every color -- from ivory to champagne, from blood-red to, of course, black, and in many different floral patterns in nearly every imaginable fabric from polyester chiffon to pure silk and cottons-- nightwear has not had this kind of attention in Moscow before.

The lingerie will make you drool. At sometimes surprisingly reasonable prices, you will spend an average of $35 on a bra with considerable amounts of lace. Cotton-blend bikini panties cost on the average between $20 and $30, while the racier and lacier ones can reach up to $100. Lingerie comes in all regular sizes and in many interesting colors: peach, mauve, blue, burgundy, patterned. But if you are looking for functionality, this is not the place to go.

Other boudoir accessories include toilet articles represented by the English brand Bronley and feature soaps, fragrances and hand and body lotions presented in pretty, flowery packages which could serve as nice gift items. Wild Orchid also carries Chantal Thomas tights and stockings, both patterned and plain, and has plenty of garter belts to go with them.

Perhaps the only other shop concentrating on lingerie and nightwear in a similar way can be found in Petrovsky Passage. In keeping with the upscale nature of the Passage, Norma on the second floor features the best of French lingerie to emerge in Moscow. While the shop has not been as conscientiously designed as Wild Orchid, it actually stocks even more elaborate articles. The extremely fanciful French designer Chantal Thomas is represented here with some exquisite brassieres for about $139, a corset for $127 and knickers for $92. A pair of splendid satin Chantal Thomas mules costs $235. Otherwise, bras by Nina Ricci or a line interestingly called Ravage range between $150 and $250, while bikinis go for between $100 to $150.

Luckily, there is a more manageable shop next door called Eva which has plenty of name brands at more realistic prices. Triumph has adequate, good quality bras ranging from $15 to $31, and Lou bras range from $15 to $48. This is also the place to buy your Wolford tights and body suits, and you might be able to find some good but singularly unfrilly nightgowns and pajamas at competitive prices.

Wild Orchid is located at 9 Petrovsky Bulvar, and is open from 10 A.M. to 8 P.M. Prices in dollars, payment in rubles or dollars. Tel: 209-2608; Norma and Eve are located in the Petrovsky Passage, Ulitsa Petrovka, and are open from 9 A.M. to 7 P.M.

?HOM on the first floor of the Passage is, as its name implies, for men only. The shop is tiny but well stocked with underwear and interesting men's accessories. Prices are high: A simple pair of great looking and great quality men's briefs start at DM 79.

?Galeries Lafayette, GUM, first floor, offers the most complete range of DIM articles in Moscow for both sexes. This is probably the only place where offerings are more practical than beautiful. Prices are also competitive, and only slightly more expensive than in France.

?GUM Service, GUM, opposite Karstadt. A Soviet-looking shop that stocks many middle-range lingerie brands, like Belcor, Marie Claire

and Gemma. Unfortunately, there are no fitting rooms, but the saleswomen are very helpful. Prices are high but in rubles.

?Sandra Star, 25-27 Pervaya Tverskaya Yamskaya Ulitsa The lingerie section of this attractive, European store is full of high-quality underwear, nightgowns and robes by the German line Palmers. A cotton underwear set starts at $34 and can reach up to $300. Terry-cloth bathrobes start at $200.

?Anton, 13 Pervaya Tverskaya Yamskaya Ulitsa This very cool store has a good selection of racy men's underwear like Gianni Versace briefs for just under $100 and plenty of beautiful women's items. A good place to buy gifts.