The Girl’s Guides to Designer Fashion: Series One- The History Of Lingerie

Fashion Industry Broadcast and Style Planet TV are proud to bring you their new Netflix Original series ‘Girl’s Guides to the World of Designer Fashion’. In Series 1 of this new Original Series we explore the History of Lingerie. 


For the longest of times, women have been looking for ways to support, suppress or accentuate their female body parts. 

From the origins of basic undergarments to the birth of the underwire bra: It turns out we have ancient Egyptians to thank for it. Egyptians wore a band of linen under their diaphanous robes to flatten the bust line, while in China they were developing their own solutions – women wore single-pieced underpinnings that covered the breasts and belly, but left the back exposed. In fact, outerwear has always dictated the look and function of undergarments. 3000 years ago, Cretan women pretty much invented the corset to get a wasp-waisted look that predated actress Mae West’s hourglass figure. 

But how did we get from there to sophisticated lingerie brands such as La Perla or Agent Provocateur, ruling the eclectic world of lingerie? 

In fact lingerie did not arrive fully fashioned for seduction, it has evolved over decades. 

Talking the history of briefs, for the most part, underwear was a status symbol worn by the nobility, while the rest of the population went commando. Catherine de Medici is credited with inventing the panty, so she could ride her horse without exposing her “Lohans” to the world. Early undies consisted of two seperate legs joined at the waist. The Can-Can craze of the 19th century created the need to join the two halves and the desire to make drawers frillier and more fun. As skirts got shorter, skivvies became more streamlined and the brief was born. 

In 1904, the Charles R. DeBevoise Company first labelled a woman’s bra-like garment a “brassiere”. It was actually a lightly bones camisole that helped stabilise the breasts. By 1907, the term “brassiere” began to show up in high profile women’s magazines. Eventually, around 1912, it appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary. 

The boyish fashions of the 1920s were unforgiving of bulky underwear, but developments in fabric technology allowed women to wear slinky petticoats that also helped them achieve the desired androgynous silhouette. 

In the 40s and 50s, technological advances in fabrics, such as nylon and polyester lead to a boom in the American lingerie industry. Underwear was engineered to create cartoonish curves like starlet Jane Russell’s B-52-shaped Playtex bras or the wasp waists needed to git into Christian Dior’s “New Look” fashion. As lingerie manufacturers, like Frederick’s of Hollywood, began to glamourise lingerie, the choices of intimate accessories exploded. Pin-up models of the day, now posed in bustiers, filmy negligees and naughty nighties. 

While most women were trapped up in girdles, notorious 1940s pin-up model Bettie Page made her name in the 50s, wearing more risky lingerie. Whips, rubber and bondage gear were her regular accessories. 

Another important element in skimpy apparel comes with the story of the bikini. The word bikini comes from Bikini atoll, the name of one of the Marshall Islands in the western Pacific, where atomic-bomb tests were performed in 1946. One theory of the coinage is that the effect achieved by a scantily clad woman appearing in public may be compared to the effect of an A-bomb blast. 

The July 5 is the anniversary of the public unveiling of the first bikini! With the anniversary of the first officially unveiling of the teeny weenie itsy bitsy swimsuit following just one day after the Fourth of July. 

The bikini was introduced at a fashion show on July 5, 1946, in Paris, where Louis Reard and Jacques Heim, its designers, introduced the revealing suit to the world of fashion. Reard and Heim could not find any know female celebrities at that time willing to risk wearing the bikini in fear of ruining their reputations. So, they hired Ms. Micheline Bernardini, a nude dancer who was working in Paris at the Casino de Paris. 

The swimsuit was an immediate international rage. However, it was not until the 1960s that the bikini took off in the U.S. In 1951, bikinis were banned from the Miss World Contest. The USA only had begun to warm up to it shortly after fashion martyr and French film star Brigitte Bardot wore one in the 1957 movie, And God Created Woman. Adding further fuel to the fire, singer/ songwriter Brian Hyland’s 1960 pop song, Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, prompted a global warming to the bathing suit that has lasted forever after. 

In 1964, Sports Illustrated launched its first bikini cover. Forty-nine years later the Swimsuit Edition is SI’s best-selling issue year after year. 

The SI swimsuit edition turned fifty in 2014 to great fanfare collecting over $1 billion in collective revenue over the years. A significant number of swimsuit edition cover models have gone on to greater fame and fortune, including Christie Brinkley, Kathy Ireland, Heidi Klum, Tyra Banks, and Kate Upton. Even Beyoncé graced the SI cover once, in 2007. Her issue represented the first cover that did not feature a model or athlete. Only being signed as a Victoria’s Secret Angel is a more powerful barometer to model megadom, than the SI Swimsuit edition and cover. 

Foster Grant’s lady on the run and actress, Raquel Welch, also was a brazen pioneer of fashion who bravely exposed herself for the advancement of sexy swimwear to the limelight by wearing a fur-pelt bikini in the classic, One Million B.C. 

The bikini has been stretched and shrunk over time and has gone from traditional to thong to string to mono and to micro. The mono-kini is a bikini bottom only that many men bodybuilders wear in competitions, and the micro-kini makes an average bikini look like a blanket. Sales for the 64-year-young bikini remain as brisk as ever with annual sales in the billions. 

Perhaps the world of fashionable swimwear owes a debt of gratitude to Ms. Micheline Bernardini for being wiling to bare it all on that great day in fashion history, July 5,1946. After all, this same design appeared on Roman women in sports competitions in 300 and 400 BC, according to some very reliable cave walls. 

Hollywood has also immortalised the bikini in many memorable films and to close this section FIB counts down the Top 10 Bikini appearances in film. 

Jessica Alba “Into The Blue” 2005 

Photo Credit: Imgur

Jessica Alba has been given the credit for this blazing scene and we bet no other actress can justify this scene with her hot and steamy appearance. Since the movie is not a blockbuster, but still we can’t forget the super sexy scene of Jessica Alba with Paul Walker. Jessica in a sexy blue bikini is just driving insanity to the viewers still when we watch the scene. Her hot and beautiful body with her perfect curves is just amazing in the movie. 

Halle Berry “Die Another Day” 2002 

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Wearing a bright orange bikini, Halle Berry very smartly showed her beautiful waist and curves as a replication of Ursula Andress who was wearing a white sexy bikini. Halle Berry stunned the viewers with her confident appearance in the scene. Halle is coming out of the water with her sexy wet body was irresistible. 

Selena Gomez “Spring Breakers” 2012 

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Cute and sexy girls in bikinis always look striking and appealing no matter what. Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson and Heather Morris wearing colorful, funky colored bikinis are just terrific. The young hot squad with their ultimate charm and charisma performed the bikini scenes perfectly. 

Jessica Simpson “Dukes of Hazzard” 2005 

Photo Credit: Pinterest

How can you miss the beautiful and sexy blonde Jessica Simpson scene, pulling off her coat and showing her extremely desirable body to Enos driving him crazy and mad for her? Jessica is perfect in the scene wearing a pink bikini and her overall outlook seems seductive. 

Ursula Andress “Dr No” 1962 The angelic beauty of Ursula Andress is a real-life evidence of the respective fact. Never ever dare to miss the enchanting clip of the movie ‘Dr. No’ as you’ll find 007 ultimate bond girl extremely hot and sensual coming out of the sea wearing a white bikini in front of James Bond (Sean Connery) on a beach where she was collecting shells. Later, the scene was copied by Halle Berry in ‘Die Another Day’. The white bikini in the scene is considered as a memorial in the history of the bra. 

Raquel Welch “One Million Years BC” 1966 

Photo Credit: Flickr

The movie has shown the era of dinosaurs and cavemen. The movie featured the beautiful Raquel Welch wearing a fur bikini. As the demand for the movie, Raquel Welch was fond wearing the bikini throughout the movie as the people millions of years back used to wear less cloth made of animal skin or leaves. Currently, Raquel Welch has been declared as the sexiest bikini figure of all time. Raquel Welch has touched the peak of sensuality and sexiness in this movie with her appealing figure and seductive gestures. 

Demi Moore “Charlies’s Angels: Full Throttle”

Photo Credit: Pinterest

 Strutting out of the surf all buff and ripped, in glistening glory famously revived Demi Moore’s career. 

Nicollette Sheridan “The Sure Thing” 1985 

Photo Credit: Twitter

The romantic comedy movie contains the super hot scenes of Nicollette Sheridan is wearing a white bikini. The name of the movie is set as her name as well as she was assured of a sure thing in the movie. Nicollette Sheridan has confidently and optimistically performed the character and the scenes with her white bikini are captivating. 

Ludivine Sagna “Swimming Pool” 2003 Ludivine Sagna rocked the viewers with her black and white bikini. The erotic thriller film consists of many intimate and sexy scenes including a scene of oral sex as well. Moreover, the French actress and model has performed full frontal nude scenes in certain movies, including ‘Water drops on the burning rocks’, ‘Bon Plan’ and ‘Little Lilli’. 

Brigitte Bardot “The Girl in The Bikini” 1952 

Photo Credit: Pinterest

This character of Brigitte is among the hottest roles she has performed ever throughout her career. Brigitte Bardot was cast as ‘Manina’ the girl in the bikini as an 18-year-old pretty girl. She was romanced by her co-star Jean-François Calvé in the movie. The multi- talented Brigitte Bardot appeared in many romantic dramas in the early 1950s and also has acted in nude scenes in many movies. Brigitte Bardot bikini moment has been included in the list of best swimsuit movie moments by many authors. 

Changes Throughout The Decades

The bikini has been stretched and shrunk over time and has gone from traditional to thong, to string, to micro cuts. Sales for the 64-year-young bikini remain as brisk as ever with annual sales in billions. 

Perhaps the world of fashionable swimwear owes a dept of gratitude to Ms. Micheline Bernardini for being willing to bare it all on that great day of fashion history. After all, this same design appeared on Roman women in sports competitions in 300 and 400 BC, according to some very reliable cave walls. 

For the world of lingerie, the 1960s became more youthful and girlish, with playful babydoll nighties and frills to match the coquettish mini dress of the time. While Betty Draper would probably have still been firmly ensconced in her girdle, by 1966 stylish young women were having fun with playful underwear shapes and patterns. Developments in underwear technology in the 60s allowed women to choose the style of bra they wanted and the first recognisable ‘modern’ shapes were born. 

The girly style of the 60s gave way to a more sophisticated, womanly look in the 1970s, with luxurious fabrics like silk and lace in elegant designs. Big hair, sensuous fabrics, as well as a touch of marabou were the quintessential elements of the 70s style. 

The 1980s brought us thongs, the G-string and bodysuit, as infamously worn by Cher, while the 90s were defined by a cool minimalism, personified by the newest supermodel on the block, Kate Moss, looking stunning in Calvin Klein’s black and white campaigns. Calvin Klein’s branded waistband became a style status symbol, and was soon to be spotted poking above the waistband of jeans. 

Ever the trend-setter, Madonna ushered in the vogue for underwear as outerwear on her Blonde Ambition tour in 1990 with a little help from Jean Paul Gaultier and his pointy bras. 

After all the 90s androgyny, in 2001 Agent Provocateur brought sexy back with a bang – specifically, Kylie Minogue riding a bucking bronco in AP smalls, in what has since been voted the sexiest advertisement of all time. Also Kate Moss became the face of Agent Provocateur and smouldered in several campaigns. 

Nowadays, in the #ME TOO era, the troubled American brand Victoria’s Secret is desperately trying to hold onto it’s position as the biggest lingerie seller in the world, as tastes seem to shifting to more representative brands. The Victoria’s Secret once famous legendary catwalk with ‘Angels” and elaborate carnival-styled costumes are starting to look tired and out of date, and all the evidence seems to be pointing to a changing of the guard. Where lingerie has to appeal more to women and less to men’s fantasies. 

The magical element that made lingerie “sexy” has been redefined over the decades and will continue to do so. What should it cover or expose? Should it look more romantic or edgy? Should lingerie appeal to women or men ?

Today a lot of designer brands like Bordelle and Dita Von Teese have unabashedly plundered the 1950’s demi-monde archive and BDSM, so it seems that lingerie freely samples from almost every era of underwear history. Stars like Katy Perry have reclaimed the high-waisted shorts of the 40s and the bullet bras of the 1950s. Stella McCartney has made the Granny panties popular again, and even chemises, covered in leopard print from the modest 1920, are back in trend. No doubt the newest evolutions and revolutions are just around the bend. 


‘Girl’s Guides to the World of Designer Fashion

This new 6 part series explores the seductive worlds of designer fashion. 

Series 1. The History of Lingerie
Series 2. The Legend of the Designer Bag
Series 3. The Mystery of the High Heel
Series 4. American Fashion
Series 5. Italian Fashion Series 6. Paris Fashion

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