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Invista Inc. is planning a global marketing and advertising campaign for its trademark Lycra spandex brand and the 100th anniversary of the bra.

Dianne Lobar, marketing communications manager at Invista, said, “To celebrate the 100th year of the bra, we’ve partnered with Maidenform [in the U.S.] with a big inset in [the] Vogue November [issue], which includes a time line of bras from 1907 to 2007 and beyond.”

The four-page insert, already out, features the first uplift bra style and different cup sizes, as well as Maidenform’s current successes, such as One Fabulous Fit; Lilyette, a full-figure brand, and Maidenform’s newest entry, the Sleek Fit Demi Dream Bra.

A billboard reading “Celebrating 100 Years of the Bra” with a tag line saying “The Best Is Yet to Come,” was set up Thursday and runs through next month at Times Square at the corner of 45th Street and Seventh Avenue. The campaign also features archival bra visuals by Maidenform, beginning with a style from 1926 to present day. The bra centennial also will be commemorated on hangtags of Maidenform bras sold at stores such as Macy’s. Coinciding with the billboard in Manhattan will be 12 bus sides featuring the 100th anniversary ad.

Roseann Beutell, marketing manager for intimates for North America at Invista, said, “This was our concept, our idea, and it shows our industry leadership.”

She added that the campaign will be featured on the shopvogue.tv Web site and will break on the Trend Watch link of vogue.com today.

The ad campaign is running simultaneously in Vogue editions in Italy, Spain, France and the U.K.

Since 1959, the trademark Lycra name has played a pivotal role in changing the shape, image, quality and consumer perception of bras with its applications of comfort and fashion, specifically over the past decade.

Vogue was the first fashion magazine in 1907 to write about the “brassiere.” A 22-year-old socialite, Mary Phelps Jacob, was granted the first U.S. patent in 1913 for what she called the “backless brassiere” — a soft, unconstructed daywear bra created from two silk handkerchiefs. She created the silk concoction after purchasing a dress that was too delicate for the rigid corsetry popular during that period. Jacob sold the patent to the Warner Bros. Corset Co. for $1,500.

This story first appeared in the November 5, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Ida Rosenthal, co-founder of the Maidenform Brassiere Co., created a bra business in 1922 that accommodated all stages of a woman’s undergarment needs. As a result of the growing popularity and awareness of bras, the word “bra” was officially added to the English dictionary in 1939.

Norah Alberto, Maidenform’s senior style director, said the first Maidenform bra was patented in 1929 as the Maidenform Uplift Brassiere.

“It was made from a restructured boyish-form bandeau to have two cups separated by a center piece of elastic,” Alberto said. “Coming out of the flapper era, this design allowed clothes to drape naturally over the contours of a woman’s bust.”

She noted the first bras were “made of cotton material, which evolved to nylon, cotton broadcloth and satin before today’s technologically advanced fabrics.”

Recent innovations by Invista in the intimates market include Black Lycra, a black elastane fiber that reduces “grin through” in dark fabric shades after multiple washes, said Lobar. She said the use of Lycra, particularly in undergarments including bras, has resulted in “better-fitting, more comfortable bras that retain their shape longer and [are widely used] by the top intimate apparel designers.”

“Invista has played an important role in working with Maidenform through the years, and we eagerly look forward to the next 100 years, to the future of the bra and to the innovation that the Lycra brand continues to bring to the marketplace,” said Alberto.

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