Origin: Great Britain
The ‘Kestos’ style bra was one of the defining moments of 1930s lingerie, marking the move from the 1920s trend for a flattened bust to the more lifted ‘natural’ silhouette of the 1930s. It was one of the first commercially produced bras available on the market.
This advert is part of a series released by the Kestos brand that lauds their designs’ suitability as activewear (in this instance, to be worn during dancing). These adverts highlight the need for ‘suitable support’ and describe the brassiere as ‘essential’, whether for movement or compatibility with outer clothing.
The slender women featured in the illustrations of many 1930s adverts for the Kestos Brassiere are elegant yet toned, capturing a dual obsession with Hollywood glamour and with fitness. One 1937 UK magazine advert features evocative description of the Kestos woman, describing her as appreciating the ‘exquisiteness of form’ of the Kestos, and the following paragraph states that ‘a simple adjustment of the straps and the everyday Kestos becomes a backless brassiere for evening or sports wear.’ Although the advert is clearly selling the lifestyle of this idealised Kestos woman, the reader’s attention is also drawn to the simple yet effective structure of the garment, and its uniquely adjustable straps.
The Kestos lingerie brand was founded in 1925 in London by Rosamond Lilian Klin. The brand is best known for the ‘Kestos’ style bra (patented in 1926, and arguably one of the first commercially produced bra with separated cups). Alongside this iconic bra, the Kestos brand produced a full range of lingerie and even swimwear.
This advertisement was illustrated by Leo Klin (also known as Lev Mikhailovich Klin born 11 March 1887), an artist born in Grodno in Volkovysk, Belarus. He studied in Odessa, Ukraine, and St. Petersburg, Russia, before moving to London in 1920. Rosamond’s second marriage was to Leo in July 1934. In the 1935 England & Wales Register, the pair are registered as the managing directors of Kestos Ltd., with Leo Klin’s occupation also listed as ‘Artist (painter)’.
Numerous Kestos brand advertisements featured the artwork of Leo Klin, who was arguably responsible for creating many of the brand’s most successful marketing materials (including the design of retail displays). The earliest examples of Kestos pieces in our collection that contains his artwork and signature dates to 1931, 3 years before the pair married. Rosamond Lilian Klin passed away in London on 26 June, 1949, aged 49. The Kestos brand continued to be run by her husband Leo after her death, until the business’ eventual closure. Leo Klin passed away 8th November 1967 in London.
From the collection of Karolina Laskowska