V. M. 18 IS ITALIAN for X-rated ( vietato ai minori di 18 anni ). It's also the name of one of burgeoning La Brea Avenue's new high-style shops. But the under-outerwear featured there--inspired by Italian peasants with '90s panache--is not X-rated. V. M. 18, the brainchild of Italian designer Pierluigi Palumbo and his partner, Eduardo Torres, presents new styles to be worn in the great outdoors, for exercising, swimming, bicycling or simply making a street statement. "You can hide them or show them to everybody," Palumbo says.
Palumbo admits to receiving wide smiles from Abruzzi village housewives while conducting his research--asking to view the family's undergarments. "For them, it (underwear) is a practical thing; they don't know how beautiful these items are," he says.
The garments are made of natural fabrics of cotton and linen, and colors range from black, gray and oatmeal to pastel blue and pink. Designed as underwear, the old-fashioned-shaped tank tops, boxer shorts and bodysuits are clearly intended as outerwear. Details typical of exterior clothing have been added, giving an updated twist to classic forms. One favorite is the boxer short with a small functional pocket sewn on the front ($26). Popular among women are the cotton-Lycra tank tops ($39) and shorts ($49), which come with suspenders.
In addition to underwear, V. M. 18 presents a unique array of silver jewelry by Erica Courtney and Alejandro Toussier, as well as handmade leather belts by Eric Todd.
V.M. 18, 112 1/2 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles; (213) 938-9056.