Date: c. 1940s
Fabric: Alencon lace, bobbinet tulle, satin, Elastic mesh
A corselet made of hand loomed elastic mesh, with a rigid rayon satin central panel, Alencon lace overlaid cups and a cotton bobbinet tulle lining. Support and shaping are offered entirely through the cut and stretch of the garment, as there are no bones or other structural supports integrated into the design. This would have made for a relatively flexible garment, offering the wearer a greater freedom of movement than many other foundations available at the time. The satin ribbon shoulder straps are not adjustable, but include small sections of elastic for comfort. A delicate lace trims the neckline edge. The corselet opens at the left hand side seam with a row of metal hooks and eyes. 6 suspender straps are stitched into the bottom edge of the corselet, with satin ribbon flashes, and silk velvet padding on the garment interior. Only the rear suspender straps can be adjusted, with ‘Cadolle’ branded metal adjusters.
This was a wholesale design. It was created by Cadolle exclusively for American retailer Bonwit Teller, a high end department store in New York. The design is very close to one illustrated in Women’s Wear Daily in 1946. It was described as ‘For the heavier figure, the garment… offers definite control through its narrow satin front panel and hand loomed elastic side panels’. It retailed at $150, worth approximately $2070 in today’s currency.
The Cadolle design house was founded by Hermine Cadolle in 1878, originally a shop that specialised in made-to-measure undergarments. Hermine is often credited with designing the first modern bra in 1889, although this is often contested. The brand continues to this day, and is now headed by Poupie Cadolle, the fifth generation of the family to run the eponymous brand.