Lovever: the concept store dedicated to love in Turin. Don’t call it a sex shop.
Wandering in search of pleasure, I found it in Turin, my hometown, shrouded in the elegant and refined ambience of Lovever, ‘the first concept store dedicated to love’.
Forget the sex shops decked out like sex hovels and get ready to enter a parlour of pleasure, surrounded by light scents, warm lights and purple and petrol tones.
Like a rare gem, nestled within the most ancient city walls, to be discovered and treasured like a little beauty secret for mind and body.
In Italy, the sale of pleasure products has always been confined in the shops around the grey suburbs, behind obscured windows and LED ‘Open’ signs. The door wrapped with printed vinyl hides a boatload of DVD, VHS and all the accessories to repeat at home the clichés from low-grade porn movies, where sex is stripped of any trace of love and pleasure and gets confused with transgression, vulgarity, submission and sometimes violence.
It’s only in the last few years that erotic toys and seductive lingerie are seeing the daylight filtering through the windows of new spaces managed by enlightened people who try to overcome taboos, instead of selling them, by giving advice for living a fulfilling and liberating sexuality. These are predominantly women who create unique retail environments in which everyone would feel free to move in and around and to sneak a peek with no shame and without feeling misjudged.
Lovever is part of this revolution that turned the sex shops into meeting and discussion and selling spaces, where the word Sexuality rhymes with Love, Pleasure, Dedication to the body and Respect for the partner (to whom, however, you can give a spanking from time to time, but using a classy riding crop with a heart shaped tip).
Lovever is a small concept store which drives you through a journey in search of pleasure, starting with exclusive and provocative underwear and romantic lingerie finely displayed on a red brick wall to the right of the entrance.
Here’s where sexy nurse costumes with zip front, made of slippery polyester, give way to elegant silk chemises by Stella McCartney featuring transparent details; the cougar-like babydolls with holes placed in strategic positions and overlapping of laces, volants and tassels are replaced by sensual bodysuits mixing luxury materials and fine erotic details.
The journey continues through accessories, massage oils and candles, lubricants, tapes and various assorted erotic items packed in vintage-inspired boxes decorated with classy patterns and illustrations. Nothing to do with the packaging featuring young ladies with mouth half open, legs spread, disproportioned breasts and longing eyes, who populate the shelves in the old slimy sexy shops. Here the body accessories are minimal jewels and bondage-inspired harnesses (by Bijoux Indiscrets) to show off in broad daylight, with the right outfit, and to be used under the dim lights of the night to play with the partner. The lubricants are selected from those that take care of the body, plant-based (Divine Xtases) and bio formulated (Mixgliss).
The climax is reached in the final part of the shop, between two backlit wall niches displaying vibrating toys and vaginal balls designed to play with the partner, know your body by masturbating and train pelvic floor muscles contributing to more frequent and intense orgasms. Not realistic plastic phalluses, oversized and veined, choked into clear blister packs, but colorful velvet coated vibrating massagers selected among the brands more attentive to material quality and design research (Lelo, Iroha, Fun Factory); not flesh-colored replicas of female genitals’ entrance but 3d sculptures (Tenga) and stimulators using oscillations (HotOctopuss) to intensify male pleasure.
This blaze of scented oils, silky materials, and good vibrations would not exist if Elisa, the owner, had not decided to quit her advertising agency office and open a store of erotic items where she herself would have felt confident, comfortable and tempted to enter. She is the soul and the heartbeat of Lovever, the friendly voice ready to offer good advice, explanations about the products use and have a word in the area of sexuality and well-being at all hours between when she raises the door in the morning and she turns off the lights in the evening.
At times, lights are turned off really late, at the end of the events she plans on the request of groups of girlfriends who want to take a moment to have a dialogue about pleasure and sexuality in front of some appetizers and a glass of bubbles.
Lovever’s clientele is deeply transversal: ‘we get men and women who generally have an open mind and the attitude to accept rather than misjudge’ Elisa tells me during our talk.
Usually, women and girls are looking for a way to enhance the body and feel good about themselves and the partner, or they’re getting in touch with their privates or want to experience the orgasm, someone for the first time, way past the age we can imagine or after having children.
Boyfriends and husbands swing by to get a gift for their better halves (finding out they’re getting a gift for themselves too).
Not infrequently, groups of girlfriends stop by to add a classy and spicy touch to the hen party of the hour, and some women come to buy the vaginal balls to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, during or after pregnancy, to enhance pleasure and make orgasm easier during the intercourse, or to prevent issues such as uterus prolapse or incontinence under doctor’s advice. Everyone brings a piece of their own experience (sexual and not) and leaves with something which will bring love, pleasure, desire and well-being in their life. Even if it’s just that sincere and good piece of advice that sometimes not even friends would be able to give.
Elisa likes to point out that Lovever is not a sex shop but a concept store carefully designed to make men and women feel at ease in a comfortable and free environment in which taboos, prejudices, and stereotypes are not allowed.
Elisa also tried to explain all this to a journalist from La Stampa (the local newspaper) who was going to write a piece about the store, and then found herself drowning the face in the river of words printed under the title ‘Women-only Sex Shop to reinvent your life’. Damn sensationalistic journalism and catchy headlines.
In a city still closed and conservative like Turin, Lovever is one of a kind. There were two other entities with some similarities which unfortunately did not last for long. One was a corner shop of the online store MySecretCase, inside the 8Gallery shopping centre, and the other was a boutique marked by a noir mood and burlesque references, with silvery chandeliers, masks, feathers and corsets.
My advice is to support a place like Lovever because it’s good that it exists, because there isn’t any alternative in Turin, and to demonstrate that giving into sexual desires means to be beautiful, joyful and smart people.
P.S. It was my pleasure getting to know this shop and having the chance to chat with Elisa who took some time to share with me some anecdotes and the difficulties she faces every day to maintain a high standard. Any form of compensation was given for this post which reflects my honest opinion.