Are you planning on wearing something on the…alluring side this Valentine’s Day? Well, don’t go looking to Hollywood for inspiration, unless you don’t mind being faced with a schizophrenic mix of lingerie styles that run the gamut from demure virgin to high-school sex kitten to wanton sweet transvestite. I rounded up 10 of the most memorable boudoir moments in Hollywood history that might offer a bit of sexy encouragement for your romantic celebration—either that or some of ‘em might cool your jets until Arbor Day. (Bonus: I’ve included one option that won’t cost you a cent and another requires only a few bucks at the grocery store.) You be the judge—and let me know which of your favorite lingerie movie moments I missed!
1. Marie Antoinette’s fan-and-garter combo in Marie Antoinette (2006)
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It’s been just 10 years since Tyra Banks first flipped her hair back and smeyesed at millions of TV viewers while clad in just a bra and panties, and yet it’s already difficult to recall what a big deal that was at the time. When Victoria’s Secret broadcast its seventh annual fashion show for the first time on television on this day in 2001, the idea of a such a program was as scandalous as Janet Jackson’s (allegedly) (unintentional) loose boob three years later. In 2001, lingerie was still an unmentionable, on television anyway. Advertisements for bras were strictly for full-page newspaper ads, and not proper Thursday-night prime time viewing. It was one thing for the lady of the house to need a bra; it was quite another for the men and children of the house to see that bra, ahem, put to use on Adriana Lima. So an unusually large number of censors and watchdog groups were on high alert as they flipped on ABC that night at 9 p.m., and glued their eyes to the spectacle—you know, strictly for research purposes. After all, someone needed to keep a close eye on Alessanda, Rie, Alec, Karolina and the other models, to make sure they didn’t stray from acceptable primetime American behavior. During her turn on the catwalk, second-girl-out Gisele kept it clean, and even yanked at the hem of her micro-mini to keep it from riding up and tugged at her strapless bra to avoid Read More »
Okay, so it’s not the birthday of the brassiere as we know it today. The official birthday of the bra is commonly recognized on April 12, in honor of the day when 19-year-old socialite Mary Phelps Jacob invented a better way to keep the girls in place than with a binding corset or merry widow. Or maybe “they” just randomly picked a day to honor her efforts. But it was on this day in 1914 that the U.S. Patent Office issued Jacob the rights to the “Backless Brassiere,” and thus, the bra became available to women around the world.
As the story goes, the busty Jacob hated how the stiff whalebones of her corset poked out from the neckline of a filmy dress she wore to a debutante ball, and the lingerie’s bumpy architecture ruined the hang of her dress’s pretty sheer fabric. With the help of her maid, Marie—who I’m guessing never saw a penny of the bra’s profits or any of the glory—Jacob fashioned two silk handkerchiefs together with pink ribbon and cord, showed it to her friends and they all begged her to create the same thing for them. But when a stranger offered her money for one of her designs, Jacob finally set forth to create an official lingerie business, and patented her design.
Jacob, by the way, wasn’t the first person to “invent” the brassiere. In 1905, Gabrielle Poix filed a patent in which she called her design a brassiere, though Poix’s design was unlike what we call a bra today, and breast “supporters” had been around since the 1860s. Thanks to Frederick’s of Hollywood, Victoria’s Secret, Dianne Brill, Madonna and Oprah—who never misses an opportunity to remind women they are wearing the Read More »
They called him an “enemy of the church,” a menace and, my personal favorite, “the Bolivar of the Bosom,” a reference to the 19th-century general who helped lead Spain to independence. But Los Angeles–based designer Rudi Gernreich didn’t have a fixation on breasts, as many critics angrily contended. Nope, Gernreich was quite happily gay, for one thing, and his appreciation for nudity transcended gender and singular body parts. He insisted his interest was not in exploiting women’s bodies, but in freeing them from binding, structured garments. He aimed to create clothing that followed the tides of fashion, though most of his designs—the topless bathing suit, the thong, the see-through blouse and psychedelic color combinations—were more innovative than consequential. Which is how on this day in 1964, Gernreich came to launch the No-Bra Bra, a featherweight pairing of two bias-cut triangles of sheer nylon net molded with only a single small dart. The elasticized shoulder straps, wrote fashion doyenne Eugenia Sheppard, “are as narrow as strings…and invisible as nothing.”
Light and invisible as it may have been, from Gernreich’s perspective, the bra wasn’t small enough. “I kept trying to make it briefer,” he said, “but there’s still too much going on.” Read More »
With every new blockbuster movie premiere comes the inevitable tie-in promotional swag to help market it. There are the action figures, the T-shirts and, of course, the ubiquitous fast-food restaurant cups. But it was way back on this day in 1952, to coincide with MGM’s Technicolor musical production of The Merry Widow, that cups were first introduced to promote a film. Except in this case, it was a pair of cups, and they were padded, attached to a short, strapless corset and featured long, dangling garter belts.
Called a “merry widow” by lingerie giant Warner’s, the sexy black satin and lace number debuted two days after the film’s September 5 release in New York, banking on the fact that the story’s saccharine-style romance and the heady, blithesome spirit of the leading actors—the incomparably beautiful Lana Turner and striking Fernando Lamas—would inspire hoards of starry-eyed female fans to run to the stores in order to duplicate Turner’s character’s brand of now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t, nineteenth-century sexuality.
Throughout the film, Turner cavorts about her boudoir in satin step-ins that generously show off her enviable, endless legs. Although never clad in an actual Warner’s merry widow, the company’s knock-off of Helen Rose’s costume designs Read More »