There is no denying that the fashionable ideal of a human silhouette has never stood still, as a slave to changing fashions and mores of the time, it has undergone countless drastic re-iterations over the centuries. From dramatic crinolines of the 1800s to the flat, androgynous looks of the swinging 20s, and the endless permutations and variations in between; it has constantly been moulded by the dictates of times. One of the clearest examples of this is the ever-changing and evolving shape of the bra over the last century – in particular, the dramatic bullet - or cone - bra!
While popular bra shapes have changed every decade since around the 1900s, it was innovation (both technological and creative) that gave rise to the daring experimentations of the 1950s; the decade that saw the meteoric rise of this dramatic bullet shape. But could contemporary fashion sensibility ever embrace such an exaggerated shape again as fully as it did back then?
The fun and experimental spirit that led to the creation and popularity of a bra shape of such extreme projection was in no small part due to the innovative techniques of the times, with designers competing as to who can come up with the most inventive fabrics, padding and underwiring, giving rise to some extreme structures. This was popularised by virtually every Hollywood star of the time – it’s impossible to think of Marilyn Monroe or Diana Dors and not picture them in what has now been termed the most iconic shape of the time.
The rise and rise of the bullet bra did not appear to stop at fashion, as it became iconic in numerous aspects of popular culture and imagination. It is no surprise that this outrageous and overstated bra shape coincided with the years of technological excitement. The space race fed into the imagination of popular culture, with creature features and b-movies proliferated both in sci-fi film and literature. As the technological discoveries paved the way for futuristic dreams, so they did for this aesthetic innovation in fashion.
While the everyday popularity of the bullet shape does seem to have peaked in the 50s, it by no means stayed there. Who can possibly forget the iconic, awe-inspiring costume created for Madonna by Jean-Paul Gaultier in the 90s? Or think of the revival of all things vintage and pin-up without mentioning the contemporary queen of burlesque that is Dita von Teese, who has frequently favoured theatrical and provocative lingerie, such as the cone bra?
So, can this provocative, daring – and sometimes even seen as aggressive! - bra be as popular again? We certainly think so! With the current proliferation of variety and choice of lingerie, there certainly is enough space for fashionable trends alongside retro pin-up styles that are offered by independent designers and highstreets alike. The trend of underwear-as-outerwear seems to march on unabated since it started to dominate style trends around a decade or so ago, and what better underwear to showcase to the world than the commanding cone bra. Gautier was by no means the only couture designer to embrace this audacious aesthetic – brands from Dolce & Gabbana to Atsuko Kudo bring back countless re-inventions of the bullet bra season after season, and high-street stalwarts such as John Lewis are reporting soaring sales of this shape.
In the current atmosphere of unbridled choice and endless stylistic possibility, the only thing that can limit anyone’s sense of their own panache would be their imagination. Never has there been an easier time to express one’s sense of individual self through style than now, as is evidenced by the speedy sell-out of our own tribute to the cone bra here at Playful Promises. Our popular Bettie Page Lingerie line has just restocked the much-coveted Retro Futuristic bra in classic black, and is joined by a new sumptuously sexy red colourway. Looking for a slightly more subtle shape? The softer bullet bras are also available in black, red, black & peach and teal!
As frequently noted – a T-shirt bra this is most certainly not! It creates a seriously commanding effect and is bound to turn heads, and in a world of endless possibility and choice where other, more demure options are plentifully available (and certainly have their place), why not have fun with your lingerie? And we cannot think of anything more fun than threatening to take a man’s eye out with those things ;)