April 27, 2010

Vintage Lingerie Frederick's Of Hollywood 1947 - 1973

Frederick's of Hollywood, 1947-1973: 26 Years of Mail Order Seduction

THE Holy Grail of vintage lingerie books and catalogs has been found (in my opinion anyhow). 255 pages chock full of glorious pictures from 1947 to 1973 of vintage lingerie galore! This very rare, hard to find book can be found HERE ON EBAY I have had mine for nearly 10 years.

With fond memories of when I was around 12 years old, going to my girlfriend's house, and her Mom had her catalogs stacked up on the coffee table. We would take them, go in her room and pour over page after page giggling at the semi-nude figures under the sheer chiffon's of these glorious gowns.

I have heard of soldiers whose in the Army during the Korean War would subscribe to the catalog because the Army wouldn't allow subscriptions to what Lenny Bruce called "stroke books" - they wouldn't deliver them to the solders!

A bit of history about Frederick's of Hollywood.

In 1946 Frederick Mellinger started his mail order company for lingerie, leading up to owning 200 stores operating in the United States!

Returning from WWII in 1946, he brought with him the idea of selling a sensuous and sophisticated European style of lingerie to American women. When good girls wore white cotton panties, Frederick caused a hullabaloo with his raunchy black panties, bras, and nightgowns.

With only a limited success in New York, Mellinger moved to Hollywood a year later and renamed his company "Frederick's of Hollywood". His sexy lingerie was an instant smash with the Hollywood's film stars, complementing their glamorous lifestyle and image of the time.

Frederick's of Hollywood launched a constant stream of new and pioneering products, from the first padded bra in 1947 to the "Rising Star," the world's first push-up bra 1948.

During the fifties, Mellinger had the nous to market his lingerie in both men's and women's magazines, a strategy which proved very successful.

Many of Mellinger's achievements were owed to his understanding of women, and the fact that lingerie could make women feel beautiful. This, together with the association he had made with the glamorous Hollywood movies of the time, led fashion-conscious women to seek out his pointed, cone-stitched bras, sold under brand names such as Missiles, in their droves.

Frederick's of Hollywood had become a trendsetter. In the sixties, the "Cadillac" bra was launched, and soon became the company's bestseller. Other innovations included the front-hook bra, bras with shoulder pads, padded girdles, and body shapers.

By the seventies, when women were demonstrating and 'burning their bras' outside Frederick's of Hollywood's store, he had enough media sense to proclaim in public that the "law of gravity will win out." It was an incredible publicity coup, and sales of his bras soared across the continent.

It was Frederick's who introduced the thong to American women in 1981. However, a little later, Mellinger had seen the risk in Frederick's of Hollywood associating itself too unashamedly with explicitly sexual lingerie. Conventional American women wanted good quality lingerie, which was soft and sensual, but certainly not seedy; Nevertheless the thong still became one of fastest selling items around the world, despite this caution.

Mellinger always had an aptitude for picking up and coming celebrities to work with as models. Pamela Anderson Lee for example, appeared in his lingerie catalogues and later landed a role in Baywatch.

In 1989, Frederick has opened the world's first Lingerie Museum to huge success.

By the nineties, Frederick's was extremely successful, it continued with its lingerie innovations introducing the Water Bra and the Hollywood Kiss with its "wishbone" construction. Frederick's had also expanded its range to include dresses, sportswear, swimwear, hosiery, and accessories to name but a few.

Frederick Mellinger retired in 1984, and died in 1990, but the company was positioned to provide the lingerie market with original and innovative lingerie items and continue to satisfy women's unchanging desire for sensual lingerie.



Some Like it Vintage.com said...

Great post! Love the history of Frederick's ...didn't know the servicemen used to subscribe to it! I know some men who do the same with the Victoria Secrets' catalogue today!

Sweet Cherry Vintage Lingerie said...

Thanks for the comment. Yes, I found that out doing research, that some service men used to subscribe!
I added your blog to my faves :)

Divine Vintage said...

Love this post! I could spend hours going through archives and finding old ads. Thanks for sharing this, I didn't know that much about Frederick's.

Sweet Cherry Vintage Lingerie said...

Thank you! I actually just finished looking at my book again this afternoon. So much fun!

Anonymous said...

I love your enthusiasm for FOH. Fred was actually my dad and we are in the middle of a documentary of his success and his life. I have collected over the years the most extensive archive of ads and catalogs from 1945 on through his retirement. Through this journey I have learned so much that I never knew about Frederick's. The history is truly amazing. I have had great experiences meeting people like yourself that are truly lingerie lovers and appreciate Dad blazing the trails of this business. He was the "Original Plastic Surgeon" but not with scalpels. One of his favorite sayings was " What God has forgotten we fill with cotton". Keep enjoying that book, I do frequently.

Sweet Cherry Vintage Lingerie said...

I am so honored you have visited my blog and commented! I look up to your Dad as a true pioneer of lingerie. I am also an avid collector of the vintage Frederick's catalogs. Thank you so much for stopping by!

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