The creator of the Maidenform bra, Ida Cohen Rosenthal, was born on this date in 1886 near Minsk. A socialist and feminist, she came to New York as an 18-year-old immigrant and began a private sewing service to avoid work in the sweatshops. Her dresses defied the “flapper” look of World War I (a look reinforced by the bandeau, a chest-wrapping) by incorporating various brassiere designs, and soon she and her husband William and their partner, Enid Bisset, had invented the concept of “cup size” and were designing bras for all ages and body types. While William handled design matters — creating the first maternity and nursing bras and adjustable straps — Ida ran the business, negotiated with garment unions and ran the assembly line.
During World War II, Maidenform also manufactured parachutes, head nets, mattress covers, and a nylon vest for carrying courier pigeons. Ida also approved the company’s advertising campaigns — the first in print or on radio for an “intimate apparel” company — including the famous “I dreamed I… in my Maidenform bra,” which ran from 1949 to 1969. When she died in 1973, annual sales amounted to $70 million.
“Quality we give them. Delivery we give them. I add personality.” — Ida Cohen Rosenthal