Welcome to March! This month we celebrate the women who’ve made differences in our lives. We decided to take this opportunity to introduce you to some of the women who’ve influenced the world of women’s undergarments. Their names may not always be known now but their legacies live on in our favourite bras!
Our first great woman in bra history is Herminie Cadolle.
Herminie Cadolle was born in France where she spent much of her formative years. Her family briefly moved to Argentina to avoid political trouble in France. While there she opened a custom undergarment shop where the success of her bespoke items allowed her to return to France in 1889 and launch the underwear revolution that would make her name!
During the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris, she introduced the world to what would become the first modern bra. Believing that the corset was restrictive and uncomfortable she cut the garment in half - and the first modern bra was born!
The company that she founded in 1887 and expanded to France in 1889 is still running today in the hands of Herminie’s descendants. The shop she founded in Paris is still going strong creating bespoke, custom fit undergarments for a new generation.
The next woman of note is also one of the best known.
Mary Phelps Jacob, later known as Caresse Crosby, is the woman behind the legend. At 19 she found herself in need of an alternative to the traditional corset. Between her and her maid the two managed to turn two handkerchiefs and some pink ribbon into an undergarment that supported Mary while also keeping the lines of her dress attractive. Her invention drew attention at the event, which resulted in requests from friends and family for her to make more! An offer to purchase one of her creations showed her that there was a potential market for a softer form of breast support.
She would file a patent application for her “backless bra” in 1914. Mary’s idea never truly took off and a year later she sold her patent to the Warner Brothers Corset Company who would eventually discontinue the “Crosby” style as it was never a popular one.
Last but not least, Ida Rosenthal.
Ida was a seamstress in a small New York shop. She and the shop’s owner noticed something that we at Ce Soir Lingerie are always telling our clients - that no two women are built the same way! Just because you and a friend are both size 34D does not mean you can wear the same style! Ida and her employer set out to address this difference by creating bras that increased lift and support of the breast. This served the dual purpose of making the dresses sold in the boutique look better and provide an alternative for women who either didn’t follow the flapper style of the day or physically couldn’t achieve the “boyish” ideal of the day. We believe that we can all agree even today, having a properly fitting bra can make or break the way an outfit looks!
The two women along with Ida’s husband named their new company “Maidenform”. They would go on to introduce nursing, full figured and the first seamed bra. The brand is still going strong today!
This month and every month, it’s our job to (literally and figuratively) support women! We hope you enjoyed this small bit of history and remember these women the next time you put on your favourite bra!