Date: c. 1940s
Brand: J. Roussel
This French lingerie catalogue by J. Roussel, titled ‘Flottant Au Vent’, dates to the 1940s. The cover features an image of the Three Graces, which the first two pages of the catalogue relate to beauty, harmony, and “the balance of the most beautiful work of art that has offered itself to the admiration of artists of all time: the female body.” The brand also states that freedom of movement and harmony of the body increase the “joy of living.”
The lengthy introduction within this catalogue also places emphasis on the uniqueness of every woman’s body, comparing them to various species of flora. It goes on to say:
“J. Roussel has devoted himself to the perfection of the feminine line, he has always considered the woman individually, without classifying her in a category: the woman must be herself in each of her movements to highlight her personality. This is why each of J. Roussel’s models is created especially for you. It is not cut from fabric but knotted to your measurements and curbed according to your shapes.”
Many of these custom-made foundation models pictured within this catalogue are described as being made from gaine, a very fine elastic knit fabric, which literally translates to “sheath” in English.
The catalogue describes J. Roussel’s lingerie as being “worthy of French fashion and English quality.” Its specific mention of both France and England is likely because the brand was exclusively sold in Paris, Nice, and Marseille France as well as London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, and Manchester in the United Kingdom.
Many thanks to Summer Anne Lee for the object description and research.
From the collection of The Underpinnings Museum