From Marilyn Monroe to Madonna and Julia Fox, the cone bra has had many celebrity fans. A silhouette with roots in functionality, it currently exists as a fashion curiosity. Originally stemmed from the pointed shape of the mid-century bullet bra, the exaggerated torpedo bust has received creative interpretations from Jean Paul Gaultier to Christopher John Rogers, and Schiaparelli’s current creative director Daniel Roseberry.
Yesterday, Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing took the reins as the latest designer to guest-design the house’s Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2022 collection, taking inspiration from JPG’s design DNA and his most groundbreaking signatures throughout history. Sending a plethora of variations of the designer’s famous motif down the runway, we saw modernized versions of Madonna’s pointed corset, golden metallic woven tin iterations and so much more.
Last season, model Dilone walked down the Schiaparelli Spring/Summer 2022 Couture runway in the black and gold turbo-busted breastplate for Roseberry’s An Age of Discipline collection, and the look ushered in a new era for the silhouette. Here, we’re looking back at its history.
First released in 1941, brassiere brand Perma-Lift described their bullet bras as “self-fitting” with an added emphasis on the fact that only the stitching held its pointed shape together, all without the dreaded underwire. With the added allure of the bullet bra’s darts, the specific design was known to enhance the appearance of one’s cup size. Quickly picked up by other intimates labels, such as Maidenform, the style evolved into a wardrobe staple by the 1950s, donned by “sweater girls” and all of the hottest Hollywood starlets, from Marilyn Monroe to Jayne Mansfield.
Beginning to experiment and toy with unexpected, surrealist shapes, inimitable French fashion designer Paul Gaultier sent his first iterations of the cone bra down the runway in 1983. Taking elements from the 1950s bullet bra and subverting the context to a hyper-sexualized extreme, the designer’s Fall/Winter 1984 Barbès collection debuted his iconic velvet ruched corset lace-up conical breast dress still celebrated in fashion history today.
In fact, while the dress was widely swept to the side by the American fashion press of the time, European publications cemented the silhouette’s lasting influence. Known for taking conventional societal norms and spinning them on their head through his work, Gaultier took his rebellious cone bra to new heights when he dressed none other than Madonna in the garment in the ’90s.
Most certainly, the most famous woman to rock the designer’s pointed brassiere, Madonna showcased Gaultier’s signature look on her first stop on the iconic Blonde Ambition tour. Performing in Japan in 1990, the Vogue star rocked her now-signature stage garment for the very first time.
The first rendition of Madonna’s specific cone bra saw its debut in Gaultier’s 1987 runway presentation, having admitted in the past to first designing the look for his teddy bear named Nana. The cone bra style later made a grand appearance in 2006 in Gaultier’s 30th anniversary collection.
Here, GRAZIA USA has rounded up the best cone bras to take both the street and the runway, proving the statement look isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.