A peek into world of bra making
AFP went behind the scenes at some of the most famous French lingerie houses to draw back the veil on the almost exclusively feminine world of bra making. No other item of clothing provokes such fierce emotions. Some swear by traditional bras, others prefer the structural minimalism of modern bralets and crop tops, while a growing feminist minority entirely reject what they see as a symbol of female oppression. Designed these days using 3D modelling, bras made by most big French brands are sewn to the millimeter and samples are worn by testers before going on sale. It takes up to two years from the first preparatory sketches for a new model to end up in the shops, according to their makers. Prototypes are on average remade and altered around 40 times. The width of a pencil mark can often be the difference between two cup sizes, they say. In the high-end family-owned Simone Perele lingerie house, new products are road tested by 80 of the bra makers themselves, said Stephanie Perele, the grand-daughter of the label’s founder. They wear them for three days, washing them every night to see how the materials hold up before making up to 10 adjustments in the lead up to the final test. These multiple dry runs on real women explain why there is no such thing in Paris as a male “corsetier” working on commercial women’s bras. A women-only world And it is also why even the most sensitive male fashion designers have their work cut out reimaging a piece of notoriously intricate apparel that has between 20 and 30 parts. The managing director of Aubade, Martina Brown, said that for its latest collaboration it asked the Dutch haute couture house Viktor & Rolf to come up with 12 shades of its trademark fuchsia colour for a new range. In the end, Aubade went for their 13th suggestion, she told AFP. “They had limitless ideas, some of which unfortunately weren’t doable. We had to drop the frills and the bows on the bonnet—but we did manage to get them into the embroidery. We also had to say no to their neoprene fabric, which was very cute but which scratches,” German-born Brown added. “Comfort is what it is all about now,” said Alain de Rodellec, head of the French lingerie industry body, Promincor. It has organised a huge “Lingerie Rocks” show Sunday to mark the halfway point of Paris fashion fortnight. “The bra is the first thing many women put on in the morning, and it is against the skin all day long,” he noted. Seduction is not a priority for most women. “Push-up bras are losing ground in favour of a more natural hold,” Rodellec said.