AKG

On the Bullet Bra

In On Entertainment, On Fashion, On Fashion History on February 23, 2012 at 4:42 pm

I always thought that the conical bra came from Jean Paul Gaultier and Madonna of the 80s. I was intrigued when I found that he was inspired by the “Bullet” bra – a highly structured conically pointed bra that was popular back in the 1940s. Also known as the “Torpedo” bra, it was designed for maximum projection – it was used for the ‘Sweater Girl’ image, the image of a busty, voluminous, ‘girl next door’ whose clothes accentuated her enhanced curves. The outer and under wires were prominent in these clothes – this bra actually has history.

It had all started during World War II, when there was this idea that bras and girdles were protective, and companies often strictly enforced that workers wear bras for 3 main reasons: good taste, anatomical support, and morale. Lizabeth Scott, an actress of the 40s and 50s, remembered also for her sultry voice, was the pinnacle of the lovely Sweater girl – the camera loved her. She had a unique quality – the audience would know what her character is thinking of feeling just be seeing her – no words necessary. Of course, the conical bra became more and more wearable and was featured through many ads. Late 40s/Early 50s fashion. The postwar boom in the economy thereafter obviously saw changes in fabric, padding, colors, and more – fashions changed, and the conical bra was left behind for more comfort and a natural look.

bullet bra - 50s

Bullet Bra, as seen in the 40s and 50s

In the 80s, Madonna brought the conical bra back – and since then, there have been many interpretations of this fashion style. Featured below is the series of sketches of the costumes that Jean Paul Gaultier designed for Madonna for her Blonde Ambition Tour  in 1990 – all with the trademark of the conical bra.

Jean Paul Gaultier's sketches for Madonna's Blonde Ambition Tour

Jean Paul Gaultier's sketches for Madonna's Blonde Ambition Tour

Madonna Blonde Ambition Tour 1990 - feat. the conical bra

Madonna Blonde Ambition Tour 1990 - feat. the conical bra

Rihanna by Zac Posen - Grammy Awards 2008

Rihanna by Zac Posen - Grammy Awards 2008 - reinterpretation of the conical bra

While Zac Posen for Rihanna at 2008 Grammy Awards wasn’t nearly as severe as Jean Paul Gaultier for Madonna at the Blonde Ambition Tour, it makes it more obvious that the ‘bullet’ bra is certainly inspiring, and here to stay. It’ll be interesting to see how stylists and style icons reintrepret and recreate the ‘bullet bra’ in the future. Perhaps, this may be an idea for your Halloween costume this year, or maybe this style will be seen in more street fashion? Regardless, I hope you enjoyed this piece of history as much as I did.

AKG

  1. Interesting! I never knew about the origins of this bra. Obviously the style spread to India as many of my old sari blouses have a pointy bust. Thankfully the tailors have now switched to a more natural shape!

    • Hello 🙂 Interesting observation that I didn’t notice. I will do my best to study the spread of the style in my next piece of fashion history. I saw your Southwest Potatoes post. Looks so delicious! I especially love the idea that if your kitchen is messy it’ll make the food more tasteful lol – I’ll think about making them that way if I can.

      I hope I’ll hear from you again. Since you’re a fellow blogger, I wanted to know what kind of things you’d like me to write about that would interest you to follow themuseflash. It’ll be inspiration for me to take your requests 🙂

      Hugs,
      AKG

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