A Brief History of the Conical Bra Beyoncé Wears as a Symbol of Escape

Jean Paul Gaultier for Madonna

“Creating this notebook gave me a space to dream and an escape route at a terrible time for the world,” Beyoncé says in a note on her website accompanying the release of her new notebook, Renaissance. The result she has been working on for three years, she explains, “made me feel rescued and adventurous at a time when everything stopped. My intention was to create a safe space, a space without judgment, a space saved from perfectionism. A sound team for the dance floor which, like Lemonade, is accompanied by a sumptuous series of photographs where the actor pimps visual codes. properly documented.

Without any indication of the desire to flee from perfectionism that she leaves in her statement, the American wears creations from major ostentatious houses such as Mugler, Alaïa, Gucci or Dolce & Gabbana. Also in pieces by designers outside the circle such as Nusi Quero, Bethany Cordwell or Natalia Fedner (responsible for one of Rosalía’s most popular dresses). A look reminiscent of the greats of the 70s and 80s, from Bianca Jagger to Octavia St. Laurent, is the work of stylists Zerina Akers, Marni Senofonte and KJ Moody.

Oh Beyoncé goes with #renaissance

Sincerely to our iconic queer and trans ancestors, Pepper LaBeija and Octavia St. Laurent, and their enduring legacy! pic.twitter.com/b2syMrzOnw

— Raquel Willis (@RaquelWillis_) July 28, 2022

The nod to Madonna is not left out in this plethora of images, with one of the clothes most representative of the subversion of the blonde: the tapered bra. Beyoncé, an expert in pop slang, takes up the principles to appropriate them and rewrite them. In the photo, she is wearing a Daniel Roseberry model for Schiaparelli’s Couture Adhesion spring-summer 2022 collection. “A certain amount of vulgarity and bad aesthetics is important. You need humor and intelligence”, admitted the artistic director of this magazine last November. A garment full of nuances and decades of history.

Sketch of one of Jean Paul Gaultier’s creations for Madonna’s Blond Ambition Tour in 1990. Photo: Getty Images

Madonna wasn’t the first to plant a conical bra. In fact, the pattern, which emphasized the effeminate chest and gave it an almost pointy shape, was a substantial vibe in the 1950s. At the time, it was known as the “Bullet Bra” and was a very symbolic representation. of female sexualization. , the double standard and objectification to which actresses such as Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield were exposed.

The Puritan style of that decade, which equated a woman with a ring belonging to the owner of the house, hardly tolerated concessions to eroticism. But the pointed bra, which could mark the chest even under a cautious sweater with a blunt collar, was one of them.

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe in a halterneck sweater that selflessly emphasized her contours thanks to the pointy bra she wore underneath. Photo: Getty Images

Madonna didn’t wear it under a sweater on her Blond Ambition tour in 1990, but under a pinstripe suit. The group performed at the start of the show and although they took off their jackets after a few seconds, they served to bet on masculine and girlish dress codes. Among them was the blush silk conical corset that has become one of the most iconic garments in the history of music and fashion.

At first glance, the Queen of Pop conveyed her message of rebellion against the establishment. She shouted that she was in charge, that she was in charge of the novel and that she did what she wanted with her body. The corset, responsible for shaping the female figure for so many centuries, has become an almost aggressive garment for the singer. One who, like few others, encouraged future generations to independently channel their sexuality through the clothes they wore on stage.


Madonna wearing the corset designed by Jean Paul Gaultier during his Blond Ambition Tour. Photo: Getty Images

The entire Blond Ambition wardrobe, including of course the corset, was made by Jean Paul Gaultier, at the request of Madonna herself. The designer said in an interview with the New York Times in 2001: “When Madonna first called me in 1989, two days before my ready-to-wear show, I thought my assistant laughed at me.” The conical corsets, which first appeared among Gaultier’s proposals in the 1980s, were already on the blonde’s dresser; he had previously worn one for the premiere of Desperate for Susan (1985). “I was a big fan, continued the Frenchman, he asked me if I would make the trip. He knew what he wanted: a striped suit, a woman’s bra. Madonna likes my clothes because they combine the masculine and the feminine. All of the sets took several months to make and included testing in Paris and New York.

jean paul Gaultier

On the left, an image from Jean Paul Gaultier’s Fall-Winter 1984/85 ready-to-wear show with conical breasts. On the right, model Iman wearing one of the designer’s bras from the 90s. Photo credit: Getty Images

More than thirty years later, Beyoncé removes the rod of the bra to shake up all this symbolism and make it her own: she embraces the dose of bad aesthetics of which the designer of her corset spoke, the irony, the subversion of Madonna and that of the eroticism of the 50s spring woman. And he uses it in his celebration of Renaissance dance music.


The breasts are again highlighted with conical shapes with the creations of Roseberry for Schiaparelli. Photo: Getty Images

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