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Madonna's 80s Cone Bra...making a comeback?

Updated on August 18, 2008

Does Rihanna know the history of her retro inspired dress?

Young (born 1988), cute and currently H-O-T, the singer Rihanna recently walked the red carpet for the 2008 Grammy Awards in a brand new Zac Posen creation that does double-duty homage to 1980s fashion trends. First, the brilliant hued blue color was ubiquitous through much of the eighties. (Below is a link to an entire column on Cobalt Blue fashions from today and the 1980s) Second, the obvious circular stitching across the bra/bodice pay tribute to no less a pop star than Madonna. (See Madonna images below from 1980s and early 90s.) Is Rihanna trying to channel Madonna's success with this dress? Did designer Zac Posen understand his own "channeling" of the 1980s Madonna influences when he had this creative vision? So, just for fun...some history and trivia and historic images of the cone bra, sometimes called bullet bra.

Cone Bra attire, Designer Zac Posen's 2008 version

Singer Rihanna at the 2008 Grammy Awards in Zac Posen Cone Bra creation
Singer Rihanna at the 2008 Grammy Awards in Zac Posen Cone Bra creation

Madonna's Bra-look of the 80s

Madonna's outlandish stage attire heavily influenced 1980s fashions
Madonna's outlandish stage attire heavily influenced 1980s fashions

A few notes about 101 years of bras.

According to, 1907 was the year when the word brassiere was first reported in an American copy of Vogue magazine.

It took a few decades before mainstream manufacturing began, one of the first, and definitely one of the most famous were the bras of the Maidenform company. In 1930, during the depression, the company made One Million Dollars selling their $1 bra. (

Maidenform's biggest seller of the 1950s was their pointy Chansonette Bra. The book Uplift: The Bra in America, notes that by 1957 Maidenform had sold 30 million Chansonettes, known popularly as "the bullet bra."

1954 Maidenform Chansonette Bra ad

Cone bra, even before Madonna... there a muse from the 1950s that keeps popping up every 20 years or so?

To the right, a diagram of a 1950s long line cone bra...was Zac Posen, the creator of Rihanna's dress, above, getting visions of this as he created Rihanna's dress?

And below, Jean Paul Gaultier was the designer of Madonna's stage outfits for her 1990s Blond Ambition Tour...and he designed her earlier outfits (see photo above)...was he also getting visions of Chansonette Bras from some fantasy Maidenform fairy?

Madonna Goes More Severe in 1990s

Madonna on stage for her "Blonde Ambition" tour, 1991
Madonna on stage for her "Blonde Ambition" tour, 1991

Famous "circular spoke" stitching. Text says "circles that uplift and support, spokes that emphasize your curves."

Maidenform's ad for Chansonette bra
Maidenform's ad for Chansonette bra

Ad from Lovable Bra Company

It wasn't just Maidenform that was selling bras
It wasn't just Maidenform that was selling bras

Pierce Brosnan for Maidenform

Groovy Sixties, ending the bullet bra era

Audrey Hepburn with her 60s whities

Katie Holmes Cruise in 1980s Cobalt Blue

Holmes in photo from IN STYLE magazine feature
Holmes in photo from IN STYLE magazine feature

Fun Celeb. photos, videos...retro fashion influences!

This column is Part Four of a series on current fashion's retro-design influences. Summaries of other columns here ...

Part One: The history of this summer's hot trend, white sunglasses. Click here for classic Audrey Hepburn video, photos of Grace Kelly, Princess Diana, Drew Barrymore, and Kate Moss ... all flashing their summer whities!

Part Two: Checking out the fashions from movie Sex and the City and noting the high retro-factor in many of the stars' fashions. Fun photos and video of behind the scenes look at creating the clothes for the four stars. Click here for this fun column.

Part Three: For more on the heavy influence of the 1980s Cobalt Blue color on today's fashions...check here ! Photos from today and 1980s...Katie Holmes, Dixie Carter, Ali Larter, Kate Hudson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Demi Moore, Cynthia Nixon, Donna Mills, Kyra Sedgwick. Plus fun fashion video!

Part Five: The Scarf...a great accessory to that can add style even to t-shirts and jeans! Click here to see how Katie Holmes, Kate Hudson, Sienna Miller and others "do" a scarf.

Part Six: Add some Leopard prints to your wardrobe...but be careful this bold looks can go wrong! See how Katie Holmes, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Lopez and others "do" the leopard look. Click here.

Enjoy !


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    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      7 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin


      This is a terrific hub! I love Madonna!

      Vote up and awesome! Keep up the great work!

      Thank you!

    • profile image

      Jane Jetson Knight 

      8 years ago

      If I could be Jane Jetson in the upcoming "Jetsons" live-action movie, I'd ditch my trademark dress and wear Madonna's patented 1987 purple bustier, smart underwear and fishnets as my everyday uniform instead. I was so angry when I learned that Madonna's original uniform was stolen from Frederick's of Hollywood--I wish I were wearing those "smarty pants" so I could track down the culprit--and maybe increase my IQ 1000 points!

    • mysisters profile image


      8 years ago

      Great Hub. It really wouldn't surprise me if this cone bra style becomes a trend. There are a lot of other styles that are continuing to make a comeback as well and have succeeded for the most part.

    • desert blondie profile imageAUTHOR

      desert blondie 

      8 years ago from Palm trees, swimming pools, lots of sand, lots of sunscreen

      Wonderful trivia about the Madonna look! Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      Miami Culinary Tours 

      8 years ago

      We always cover those famous cone bra at the South Beach Food Tour. The story goes that Jean Paul Gaultier got inspired to design the bra for Madonna (who actually frequent the Versace Mansion) looking at the nautical portholes in the Art Deco District. Love the bra, love the story!

    • profile image

      Granny and Proud of It 

      8 years ago

      I am so happy that the circular stitched bras are finally made a come-back. We called them the "Sweater Bras". You don't need much of an imagination to understand why they were called that. They were so comfortable and you didn't fall out when you bent over. They gave you a "shape" and allowed your dresses to gracefully fall from the underside of your bra. Thank you for bringing them back. I have been trying for 55 years to find them. Thank you. Now all I have to do is find out who sells them. You young gals, try one and you will want to only wear that style.---1957 grad.

    • Granny's House profile image

      Granny's House 

      8 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

      Cool hub! I remember when Madonna first came out. I did not let my kids watch her concerts. I thought the way she dressed and acted on stage was a bad influence for my kids.

    • desert blondie profile imageAUTHOR

      desert blondie 

      8 years ago from Palm trees, swimming pools, lots of sand, lots of sunscreen

      Lady Gaga definitely would NOT be who she is without Madonna, and perhaps images of Cher in the 60s who also wore outlandish costumes ... and before that Carmen Miranda and Mae West! Seems we've always had at least one woman in each generation who REALLY ventured 'out there' with their attire to call attention to their talent!

    • lulubell1798 profile image


      8 years ago

      I think Lady gaga is taking her ideas! good hub !

    • desert blondie profile imageAUTHOR

      desert blondie 

      9 years ago from Palm trees, swimming pools, lots of sand, lots of sunscreen

      Shows like Mad Men and movies like Revolutionary Road and A Single Man all feeding the interest in 60s fashions!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I wear a bullet bra now all the time... The men love it!!!!! Women always say they wish they could wear one, I say go for it!!!! I just love the way my 36C breast look in the bullet.... try it, you won,t go back to a boring bra!!!!

    • yenajeon profile image

      Yena Williams 

      9 years ago from California

      What a wonderful, fantastic hub! Great writing, observations and pictures! It was such a fun read. =)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Style or substance...? uhmmm i choose the Maidenform look, charming and ultra feminine.

    • prasetio30 profile image


      10 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Covering your breast osing fashionable bra.thanks for share.

    • Jimmy Fuentes profile image

      Jimmy Fuentes 

      10 years ago from Rancho Cucamonga

      just waiting on the bellbottoms to arrive. What are the chances tie dying will come back? ;)

    • profile image

      melissa posey 

      10 years ago

      i wear those bras alll the time :D they are great , definnitly recommend them to everybody !

    • starrkissed profile image


      10 years ago from Arizona

      This is a really interesting hub. I love the cobalt blue. Very daring and bright. :D Rihanna looks great in that dress, but I hope the cone bra is not making a comeback lol. It's just a tad scary.

    • desert blondie profile imageAUTHOR

      desert blondie 

      10 years ago from Palm trees, swimming pools, lots of sand, lots of sunscreen

      Thanks, SweetiePie, like you said, a bit of fun about fashion.

    • SweetiePie profile image


      10 years ago from Southern California, USA

      This was a fun look at fashion and how what is old is always new again. This time around I am glad certain color schemes and pieces are popular from the eighties without adopting the entire look. Very interesting hub.

    • talongi profile image


      11 years ago from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

      I kinda think the world would be better without Bra s. Just My opinion.

    • funnebone profile image


      11 years ago from Philadelphia Pa

      I feel like I am reading the 1983 sears catalog again....god those were sexy.

    • CheryleJ profile image


      11 years ago from NEW JERSEY

      I love this hub!!! Can't wait to see what else you talk about. Now I wish we came up with a really comfortable bra that feels like wearing nothing!!!:-)

    • desert blondie profile imageAUTHOR

      desert blondie 

      11 years ago from Palm trees, swimming pools, lots of sand, lots of sunscreen

      Thanks, gj... Not seeing the pointy bras when I go out and about, but seeing the cobalt blue EVERYWHERE! And, red shoes definitely big right now! fun!

    • gjcody profile image


      11 years ago

      You know ...I remember the cobalt blue and I loved it.

      Because I have blonde hair ...I enjoyed the dramatic colors ...I can also remember waring a purple skirt, wide red belt and red shoes ...What a time. I am a hairdresser and I attended the shows in New York and we really dressed was fun things have really changed when we go there. But is is good to see the colors again ...

      It seems with the times ..we need this feels like we should be dressed in black!! LOL :-)))

      But as always do a fantastic job ...l enjoy seeing what you research! My best to you!

    • gjcody profile image


      11 years ago

      By the way videos!

    • desert blondie profile imageAUTHOR

      desert blondie 

      11 years ago from Palm trees, swimming pools, lots of sand, lots of sunscreen

      Yep, these days those pointy bras look pretty is kind of amazing to think about the 50s...that's what guys, and I guess gals too, were 'trained' to think of as appealing? No wonder that 'softies' like Marilyn Monroe and Jane Mansfield, just to name a couple, were so 'avant garde,' pointies for them!

      P.S. I've got a pair of big white sunglasses too. My hubby says they "take him back" to the 60s or something...he likes them!

    • marisuewrites profile image


      11 years ago from USA

      I just bought a pair of white sunglasses,  i think they're sooo cute.  and I remember those pointy bras....ICK  -- only in hollywood did they look good...but I'd be afraid to poke someone if you get too close !!! how could men not look at bizzaaarrre.

      softer natural look is so much "more?" but, then I'm not a guy so what do I know!! They just look "outer space!!" ahahah

      great ride here, blondie!!


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