Celebrating a 100 years of the bra

When you think about the bra your mind conjures up an array of images. Who can forget Jean Paul Gautier’s creation for Madonna’s Blonde Ambition Tour? A fashion defining moment where the bra was transformed from underwear to outerwear.

There is no doubting we have come a long way since throwing off the constraints of corset a hundred years ago but British women still haven't got the right support from their bras or from their men! New research reveals half of British men have no idea what size their women wear in the bra department and over 600,000 ladies want a remote control bra to help their boyfriends' pinging power during a night of passion.

The research by LYCRA®, released during the bra's centenary year shows it's not just the men as even women have difficulty when it comes to their underwear, with a quarter struggling to find the right bra size and a third feeling under supported.

The Bra has had an eventful 100 years, first making an appearance in US Vogue in 1907, American socialite Mary Phelps Jacob was granted the first US patent 6 years later in 1913. It was another 51 years before the Wonderbra was created and still caused a stir 30 years later when Eva Herzigova stars in the ‘Hello Boys' ad campaign.

But what do the next 100 years hold? According to the research, 32% of women would like a bra as tough as the SAS. Dubbed the "Indestructi-bra", it can be thrown into the wash without worrying about how it'll look after a spin in the washer.

Other requests include the "Flexi-bra", which can adapt to different outfits, a temperature-adapting bra that heats and cools to avoid VNO (visible nipple outline) and the "I-Bra" a hi-tech multimedia bra with a built in MP3 player.

For more information visit //www.figleaves.com/uk/

Defining Moments in Bra History

The word "brassiere" first appears in US Vogue. In Paris, a couturier named Paul Poiret has opened his fashion house. His revolutionary dress styles will persuade a generation of women to ditch the corset.

American socialite Mary Phelps Jacob (later known as Caresse Crosby) buys a sheer evening dress and, not wishing to wear a corset, fashions her own underwear from two silk handkerchiefs and some ribbon. She is granted the first US patent for the brassiere the following year.

Russian immigrant Ida Rosenthal and her husband William found Maidenform. In years to come she will pioneer the idea of different cup sizes for different women, as well as patent a bra strap fastener.

Enter the shaped bra: the Kestos bra, fashioned from two triangular pieces of fabric, has elastic shoulders, a crossover back, and buttons at the front to create two distinct cups. A commercial success, it still looks modern today.

Warner’s creates the cup sizing system.

Howard Hughes anticipates the future of lingerie when he designs a seamless, push-up bra for Jane Russell to wear under a tight silk blouse in The Outlaw. It is, however, denied a place in fashion history when Jane Russell later claims that she never wore it.

LYCRA® fibre is invented by scientists at DuPont. Adding this stretchy manmade fibre to the mix makes it possible for a bra to fit comfortably and close to the body without sagging, bagging or losing its shape.

Canadian company Canadelle invents the Wonderbra, designed to ‘lift and separate’ the bust. It’s still causing a stir 30 years later when Eva Herzigova stars in the ‘Hello Boys’ ad campaign.

Triumph’s Doreen bra – a supportive, non-underwired style – goes on sale for the first time. It is the best selling bra in the world today.

Hinda Miller, Lisa Lindahl and Polly Smith sew two jockstraps together and call it the Jogbra. It’s the first sports bra.

1990 image
Underwear-as-outerwear: Jean Paul Gaultier creates a conical bra for Madonna’s Blonde Ambition tour. It’s a defining fashion moment.

Italian manufacturer Santoni develops a circular knitting machine that allows a bra to be knitted all in one go, instead of separate pieces needing to be cut and sewn together. This leads to today’s increasingly popular seamless, tagless bras.

Green is good – and the lingerie industry has taken note. Hanro, Chantelle and Ballet are among the brands offering bras in eco-friendly bamboo blend fabrics.

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Tags:bra, 100 years, anniversary, corsets, Jean Paul Gautier, lycra, wonderbra, Eva Herzigova, Vogue, ribbon, lingerie, design

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