Amazing vintage images have revealed the lengths that post-World War Two women would go to in order to look like Marilyn Monroe, as they are seen donning inflatable bras to boost their assets.
Christian Dior exploded the gloom of wartime fashions in 1947 with the ‘New Look’ and by 1952, if you didn’t have natural curves like that year’s it girl Marilyn Monroe how could you get the silhouette necessary to perfectly fit your Dior-inspired fashions?
US lingerie pioneers La Resista Corset Co. of Bridgeport, Connecticut, had the answer: inflatable assets under the brand name Trés Secrete. The bra had plastic pads inside the cups that could be blown up using a small straw, allowing women to boost their cup size in seconds.
Straw: Incredible vintage photos show how a bra invented in the early 1950s came complete with hidden inflatable pads that were operated by blowing into a straw
Marketing: This image from 1952 sees a man, thought to be a salesperson for the company, showcasing how its lingerie works
Display: A model in 1952 takes to the stage to debut the bra, which is known as the Trés Secrete
Incredible resurfaced images show models demonstrating how to inflate the bras and walking the catwalk while marketing men made the pitch to potential buyers. One, seemingly skeptical, buyer has a cup of tea in one hand and a cigarette in her mouth while she sizes up a model showing off the bra.
In another image, a store buyer checks the fabric, cigarette in hand, in an image that looks like it could be straight from the TV show Mad Men.
Other stunning pictures show models revealing the strapless version of the bra, while in additional shots, the presumed marketing manager reads his speech, bra in hand, while standing in front of ‘before’ and ‘after’ posters.
The advert for the Trés Secrete bra reads, ‘Do it yourself. Make the most of you. Blow up!! To be the size you want.’
Vintage: Four models show how to use the Trés Secrete bra, developed by La Resista Corset Co. in Connecticut
Time machine: The stunning images found by TopFoto in their archives show the iconic inflatable bra up close
Buyer: A woman, believed to be a potential buyer, studies the inflatable bra up close
Straps: The resurfaced photos show that the bra was available in two styles: with straps, center, and strapless, left and right
The remarkable photographs were discovered by British photo agency TopFoto in their extensive archives.
One puff for a Venus is one thing; the thought of the bra popping in public quite another. The marketing men were keen to demonstrate the strength of the product and staged young models balancing on the inflated bras in their court shoes to prove their point.
The Trés Secrete consisted of a normal bra with a pocket lining in each cup, and photos show that there were two styles, one with straps and one without. The plastic pads were discreetly inserted into these pockets and inflated to the desired size.
This was achieved by inserting a plastic tube into the valve opening at the top of each pad and blowing in as much air as required. The plastic tube would then be withdrawn and the valve sealed by pressing it between thumb and forefinger.
Pin up: The inflatable bra was launched during the era where Marilyn Monroe, pictured left and right, was the reigning icon thanks to her voluptuous figure
Speech: A gentleman, who is believed to have work for the lingerie company, is seen taking to the stage to promote the product, with the adverts for the bra seen behind him
Demo: The salesman lets the crowd in on how the bra works, as he is seen inflating a model’s secret inflatable pads
Lingerie: The 1950s photos show the models stepping on the inflatable pads, proving how sturdy they are
Originally marketed as a fashion brand to the naturally small breasted, these inflatable bras were in fact mainly worn by women who had undergone mastectomies, with breast cancer diagnosis on the rise after WWII and radical surgery the most frequent treatment.
The series of 22 photographs are available online, having been expertly restored from the original 1952 negatives.
The unusual lingerie piece was actually previously included in an exhibition that charted the changes in women’s and men’s underwear over the last three hundred years.
In 2011, a collection of historic underwear went on display at Snibston Discovery Museum in Leicestershire, England. The exhibit included a woman’s corset from the 1770s, a busk that has been stamped with a secret love message for its owner and shapewear that could create painfully small waists.
Men have also not been forgotten with examples of long johns to Y-fronts illustrating the change in tastes for men’s under garments.
Skeptical: A woman smoking a cigarette, right, inspects the innovative bra on a model as she walks the catwalk
Pitch: The salesman is seen reading what could be either a sales pitch or instructions on how to work the bra
Smoking: An unidentified man takes a shot at inflating the bra while balancing a cigarette in his other hand as a potential buyer, right, looks on
Famous: The innovative bra, pictured, was previously on display at an exhibition detailing the history of lingerie