Tonie Ong

Cadolle LogoMuch like fashion, underwear has changed throughout the years as well. They used to be garments as big as your actual clothes that made sure the body was covered throughout every part. Then, as clothes became simpler and smaller, so did the underwear, but as a more rapid pace. Soon, underwear were simply tiny garments that covered only the most sensitive parts of a person’s body. They no longer protected other body parts, some of which has become acceptable to expose. One of today’s underwear pieces that was as popular before as it is now is the bra. It was actually created by French designer Herminie Cadolle, who eventually opened her own lingerie brand.

Today, in line with their brand heritage, Cadolle offers basic yet luxurious lingerie pieces. Their items are not as highly-stylized as other brand’s, but they embrace the body in a practical and comfortable way. A lot of their designs are still attuned to the classic lingerie look of eras past as tributes to the founder’s revolutionary tenure as a leading lingerie designer. And although other underwear brands have opened up since then, Cadolle lingerie is still as popular and sought after. The longevity of their existence is a testament to their impact on the business, and in women in general.

Haute couture lingerie

Cadolle Lingerie 4

Photo: @maison.cadolle

When Herminie Cadolle opened her first underwear shop in Buenos Aires, Argentina, she was one of the many designers at the time who introduced a new concept on fashion: lingerie haute couture. During that time, haute couture was all about the strict tailoring and bespoke dressmaking for the upper class. It specialized in daysuits and evening wear in equal measure. However, fashion houses like Cadolle pushed lingerie into the forefront of fashion. They reinterpreted classic female underwear and made them as precious and as luxurious as haute couture. Their shops even operated and served clients like the couture maisons in Paris.


Herminie Cadolle became one of the premier lingerie designers in the late 19th century and early 20th century. She lived a good portion of her life in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and in 1887, she opened a made-to-measure shop for women’s underwear. She incorporated the skills and trade traditions of haute couture in her underwear shop, making custom pieces for rich and elite clients. Two years later, in 1889, she opened her second store in Paris on the Chaussée d’Antin. Here, she also made custom underwear for clients, as well introduced a number of new pieces she designed herself.

At the Great Exposition of 1900, Cadolle introduced a two-piece set of underwear she thought of herself. It consisted of a waist corset and a strapped-garment that supported the women’s breasts. Thus, the modern-day bra was born. By 1905, the bra gained massive popularity and it became a new product in of itself. Soon, Cadolle’s lingerie shop became the toast of the town when it came to luxurious underwear. Prominent women at the time became loyal clients, from European aristocracy to controversial figures such as the exotic dancer and spy, Mata Hari. Every woman fell in love with the bra, which is still one of the main articles of underwear women still wear today.

New classics

Cadolle Lingerie

Photo: @maison.cadolle

Today, the house of Cadolle still offers high-quality lingerie. With some of the most expensive laces, silks, and satins in the world, they create luxury underwear worth a garment of any other high fashion brands. Beyond their classic of bras, panties, and tights, however, they’ve introduced a new roster of elegant underwear pieces that have since become classics in their own right. One of them is the bodysuit, which they offer in either pure lace or with silk cut-outs. The seductive, body-hugging garment has seen a rise in popularity in recent years, with some even deeming it sexier than the more revealing underwear.

Pret-A-Porter line

Cadolle Lingerie 3

Photo: @maison.cadolle

The label has also expanded into ready-to-wear, incorporating their lingerie aesthetics into everyday fashions. In ready-to-wear, they specialize in cocktail dresses and a few separates, all with their signature sexy touch. Some of their clothes are so short and sexy that one might even mistake them to be lingerie pieces. They’ve also embraced the art of pleating for their clothes, and have offered a variety of looks with pleats on them, from halter tops to little black dresses. For the more adventurous women, they also sell dresses with lace crinolines, a simple yet impactful couture touch. As for their separates, an array of lace pieces that are as risque as their signature underwear.

Women today have a lot to thank Herminie Cadolle and her withstanding lingerie line. The woman and her company introduced the bra, which is now the universal garment of underwear for women. And as much as new and other designers and brands try to create their own luxury pieces of underwear, they all owe it to the foundation that Herminie Cadolle and her prominent fashion house built a century ago.

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