Date: c. 1950s
Origin: Great Britain
These Kestos brand signature bras are made of a lightweight nylon. They have been so heavily used that the original printed labels have worn away entirely, and only the woven brand label remains. The bras have both been heavily repaired throughout the course of their life. The original wraparound ribcage straps having broken away entirely, whilst the shoulder straps have begun to fray and break. Much of the stitching at the neckline and underarm has been painstakingly reworked by hand. This combination of wear and tear with the numerous repairs indicate that the bras were perhaps owned by a working class individual who could not afford to replace the garments, and was forced to instead mend and continue wearing them.
The nylon fabric indicates that these bras were created in the 1950s when restrictions on the material were lifted following the rationing of the 1940s. The lasting success of this style is truly astonishing; although made from different fabrics, the base silhouette of this bra is fundamentally unchanged from the original design that was trademarked in the 1920s.
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 c. 1926 by Rosalind Lilian Klin, in London, England. 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’.
From the collection of Karolina Laskowska