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At Beau Bra, designer Gabrielle Ross is tying things up nicely.
This story first appeared in the August 26, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Gabrielle Ross brings new meaning to the term “easy access.” Her lingerie line, Beau Bra, features sexy bras that tie in the front — and inspiration came from, of all things, a silly college dare.
While an archeology student at Durham University in England, Ross had a boyfriend who bet that he could undo a bra with his left hand in four seconds. While his unhitching prowess left much to be desired, it got Ross, 27, thinking. What could be more provocative, she thought, than bras that can be untied in the front?
Within a year, the dare had turned into a promising little side business. By that time, Ross was working her way through law school. “The law is very black-and-white,” she says. “And I really needed something to dilute what I was doing, so I started selling the bras out of my bedroom.”
In 1998, Ross modeled her design for British Vogue, and soon calls started coming in from as far away as Bermuda and India. When she sold her first 500 bras in less than two weeks, she knew that Beau Bra was more than a pet project. The top guns at the law firm that had just hired her understood completely. “They said, ‘Go away. We want you to get this out of your system,’” Ross remembers.
Now, Ross’ quirky lingerie sets are available at Bergdorf Goodman in the U.S. and Harvey Nichols and Fortnum & Mason in the U.K. Bras retail for $130-135, and G-strings, $70-75.
Spring will feature soft pastel laces with intricate floral embroidery. “I got an idea of unicorns and virgins and maidens — purity,” Ross says. But such gentle thoughts aside, she understands that designing bras is a technical discipline. “It’s structural engineering,” she says. “It’s like trying to push two bags of sugar into a cup.”
These days, Ross is checking out pajama fabrics and mulling a move into ready-to-wear. She’s also working on a swimwear line called B’Eau.
And what about the boy who started it all? “He’s now a journalist,” Ross says. “But he never mentions my name because he doesn’t want to be known as the guy who
couldn’t get a bra unclasped in under four seconds.”