Cadolle has a long history of being near the center of French lingerie.
The origin has been claimed by different countries for centuries and by different people. Nevertheless, there seems to be consensus in what French-woman, Herminie Cadolle whom patented the first bra in 1889. The innovation of Cadolle was to divide the traditional corset in two-part undergarment: The bottom half was a corset that covered only the waist and rear; and the top half to support the bosom up to the shoulders appearing with the look of a Victorian bikini.1
This picture from Wikipedia 2 is likely what Cadolle’s invention looked like.
The Cadolle brand stayed with the family and was run mostly by various women including Marie, Hemine’s daughter-in-law. After Marie, her daughter-in-law, Marguerite ran the company. Marguerite had a varied client list including work for Coco Channel and the Duchess of Windsor. Cadolle “went regularly to Mata Hari’s suite at the Ritz. In this privacy Mata Hari would remove the live boas she wore around her neck like amulets and permit Marguerite to take her measurements.”3 Marguerite would leave the business to her daughter Alice.
It appears Alice is responsible for the strange reversal of the Cadolle brand. What started as a liberating choice to the corset, Cadolle now makes some of the most beautiful corsets in the world.4
You may find Cadolle outside of Paris, but if you are in Paris, swing by their store.5
A full history is available on the Cadolle web site. http://www.cadolle.com/GB/histoire2.shtml.
- Images from Cadolle