Sunday, January 27, 2008

I tried dream analysis in my Maidenform bra (1953 print ad), plus Ida Rosenthal and The American Dream

So let's see.
You dreamed of being a fireman, and you slid down a long pole.

Other fireman (with their big hoses) were waiting far below, where they could look up your skirt as you went down.

- - Nope, I'm stumped!
I see no subtext here, sorry.

Maidenform's "I dreamed..." advertising campaign began in 1949, when it was viewed as daring and risqué.

The idea came from Kitty D'Alessio when she was a young copywriter at a Manhattan ad firm, many years before she became president of Chanel Inc.

The campaign ran with great success for more than twenty years, throwing scores of half-clad women into odd 'dream' situations.

- You can view images of several other maidenform ads at a vintage ad 'marketplace' page.

- A 2005 discussion of the ad campaign at Althouse includes a link to a New York Times article, 'Dreaming of Bras for the Modern Woman'.

- See also: The Maidenform Project

The invention of the modern brassiere is usually credited to
Ida Kaganovich Rosenthal (1886 - 1973), who founded the Maidenform company in the mid-1920's with her husband.

As a teenager, she'd emigrated to the U.S. from Tsarist Russia with her fiancé William Rosenthal around 1904.
They settled in Hoboken, New Jersey, and married in 1907.

By 1918, Ida's talent as a dressmaker had gained her a partnership in an exclusive Manhattan dress shop.

Bucking the fashion trend of the era that made women look 'boyish', she designed an undergarment that would enhance the natural womanly contours of their customer's bodies.

The profits from this innovation allowed Ida to leave the dress shop and begin building the Maidenform company together with William.

The Rosenthal's partnership was fruitful. William had a talent for design and technical innovation, Ida for mass marketing.

They engineered great advancements in the intimate apparel industry, creating new designs, standardized bra sizes, and adapting mass production methods for the manufacture of lingerie.

With Ida and William at the helm, over the next four decades Maidenform was the largest privately held intimate apparel business in the United States.

See also:
- An Ida Rosenthal bio page

- "l Dreamed I Was a Tycoon in My . . ." - - A 1960 article and interview from TIME magazine

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