The Story Behind The Pointy 'Bullet Bra' Trend Of The 1950s

Remember the pointy corset Jean Paul Gaultier created for Madonna? In the fashion world, that's what we call a "bullet bra." The thing is, Jean Paul Gaultier didn't even invent the strange contraption.

To learn more about the origins of the bullet bra, we have to rewind to the 1950s, when it was in perfectly good taste to walk around with giant triangle boobs.

At the time, pointy bras were the hottest trend. A new circular sewing technique (called the "whirlpool circle stitch") gave your bosoms that sexy "missile" look that went perfectly with the skin-tight sweaters of the period. The tight sweater-bullet bra pairing was then dubbed the "pointy look."

The bras, which gave the wearer an especially voluptuous chest, were quickly snapped up by big 1950s stars like Patti Page, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte Bardot. However, as Dangerous Minds tells us, the trend became obsolete in the 1960s, particularly with the rise of the women's lib movement.

A caricature of femininity 

After the lean years of World War II, women were getting their curves back in the prosperity of the post-war boom. This happened in parallel with the arrival of Christian Dior's "New Look" which had an impact on style throughout the world.

When the trend arrived in 1947, the Dior revolution touted an "hourglass" figure. The New Look was characterized by round hips, belted jackets, prominent breasts, and an ultra-cinched waist due to the return of the corset (much to the dismay of Coco Chanel, who fought to liberate women from the torture device).

At the time, women were reclaiming their bodies through the use of lingerie. Thus, girdles, waspies and waist-cinchers made their way back into closets, making it possible for women to embody the idealized Dior silhouette. 

None of this was comfortable, of course, but society seemed to be trying to recapture some kind of pre-war femininity, which gave free reign to the most eccentric of fantasies.

The new trend couldn't have been further from the fashion of the 1920s, when women went to the other extreme of wearing bras that would flatten their chests.

Forty years later, the artificially exaggerated curves of the bullet bra were picked up again by Jean Paul Gaultier, who created the iconic cone bra for Madonna's Blond Ambition Tour in 1990.

After the current unisex trend, is there any chance of the bullet bra making a comeback? One of Stella McCartney's recent collections leads us to believe it could happen! We'll have to wait and see.

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