Date: estimated to be 1930s
Origin: United States
A soft cup style bra based on the ‘Kestos’ bra of the late 1920s. Kestos was trademarked in 1925 and the bra was arguably one of the first commercially produced bras with seperated cups. It marked the shift in ideal body aesthetic from the flattened bust of the 1920s to the more voluptuous ideal of the 1930s.
The Kestos bra is based on two, lightly darted triangle cups, overlapping at the centre front. Elasticated straps cross at the centre back, fastening around the front with buttons underneath the bust point. The bra was designed by Rosaline Kiln, a Polish-born designer residing in London. The Kestos bra remained popular through the 1930s and 1940s. Although the Kestos brand produced many different styles, this bra shape became generically known as ‘The Kestos’.
This particular bra is not an authentic branded Kestos, but was most likely custom made as a one-off by a seamstress for an individual wealthy client. This piece is particularly noteworthy due to the extremely luxurious and time-consuming techniques and fabrics used. The entirety of this bra is hand sewn, with no visible machine stitching.
This bralet is constructed almost entirely in a silk georgette, a slippery and tricky fabric to work with. The top half of the cups have a base of bobbinet tulle with silk georgette hand-embroidered cutwork. The cups are shaped with a single dart, with neck and underarm edges finished with a hand-embroidered scallop edge. The underband is encased in an incredibly narrow rolled binding, hand finished on the inside for an invisible exterior finish.
There are two silk satin plackets under the bust points on the underband with silk covered buttons. Narrow-rouleaux shoulder straps are constructed in silk satin, which loop around the cross back straps for flexibility of fit and movement. The cross back straps partially encase elastic, as seen in the ruched areas of the garment, allowing for a more comfortable fit. These silk straps are finished with rouleaux loops to attach to the centre-front buttons.
From the collection of Karolina Laskowska