Sunday, February 21, 2010

Marilyn Monroe's “Fling Bra”--malaprop-riate?

Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortenson on 1st June 1926 in Los Angeles, California, to Gladys Baker. She was later baptized Norma Jeane Baker (the identity of her father is undetermined) . After a few modeling jobs Norma Jeane dyed her hair blonde, borrowed her grandmother's last name, and, in 1946 began using the stage name Marilyn Monroe. She legally change her name on 23rd February 1956.

At 5 feet 5 1/2 inches tall and weighing between 115 - 120 pounds her shapely figure [measurements: 37-23-36 (Studio's Claim); 35-22-35 (Dressmaker's Claim)] caught the imagination of generations. Despite her voluptuous curves, Monroe boosted her bust to a D cup using a bra favored by strippers and burlesque dancers in the 1940s and 1950s. 
 
During the early morning of 5th August 1962, 36-year-old Marilyn died in her sleep, from a drug overdose, at her Brentwood, California home . She is encrypted at Pierce Bros. Westwood Memorial Park, in Los Angeles.
On Saturday 18th July 2009 London's International Autograph Auctions sold a bra previously "belonging to the professional wardrobe of" Marilyn Monroe. The bra, nicknamed “The Fling Bra, may have been worn by the star while shooting the famous subway grate scene for the 1955 movie "The Seven Year Itch".
This bra, held in a private US collection for 50 years, was part of Monroe’s wardrobe sold in Hollywood in 2005. The lingerie was expected to fetch £2,000 when auctioned alongside an unworn pair of nude, sheer, Christian Dior silk stockings. It brought $5,200 from an unidentified bidder calling in from Hong Kong.
Monroe's bra garnered the malapropic name "Fling Bra" during promotion of the auction. The name was incorrectly heard, picked up by the global media, and stuck. Marilyn's Fling fits her sexy image 67 years later.
Katie Halford, a designer for the vintage lingerie firm What Katie Did, reports, “Marilyn Monroe didn't like wearing underwear and, if she could get away with it, she wouldn't wear any".
Monroe's "Fling" is a sling bra. Designed to enhance the size and shape of her breasts while giving the illusion of not wearing a bra at all.
"The bra looks very complicated at first glance and it actually has four cups inside it," reported Richard Davie, from International Autograph Auctions. "There's an inner cup which is almost hidden, which would support her chest as normal. But then there's another larger cup about an inch further out” providing the illusionary larger size.
Sling bras are worn like modern quarter cup bras that support the breast from underneath and expose the top half of the breast, including the nipple, so that under thin/tight clothing it looks like the woman isn't wearing a bra. Inner Slings are curved strips of fabric, following the natural curve of the bottom of the cup; similar to an underwire, except soft.
Edged with cream velvet piping, the fling bra features a lace design and is sculpted in the cone style of the 1950s. On a technical note regarding vintage bras: velvet trim on the inside of the boning and straps is a luxury feature of couture vintage bras.
This heavy-duty bra--which "perfectly positioned" and enlarged the breasts--was reinforced with extra straps running in a triangle from the center of the bra over the shoulders and vertical 'bone' stays across both cups Underwired slings created impressive cleavage while placement of the straps gave the illusion that Monroe was not wearing anything at all.
This particular Fling Bra may have been worn during the filming of “The Seven Year Itch”, a 1955 American film based on George Axelrod's three-act play. The film was co-written and directed by Billy Wilder, and starred Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell, reprising his Broadway role.
That title phrase refers an inclination to become unfaithful after seven years of marriage. Seven-year itch had been known in the USA since the early 19th century as the name of a particularly irritating and contagious skin complaint. The name was well enough known by 1845 for the condition to be used as a metaphor for all that is annoying. The success of the 1955 film brought the term a new life.
Plot summary: A professional book reader for a publishing company (Ewell) must endure the dog days of a New York summer alone, while his wife and son find themselves at a oceanside resort. To pass the lonely hours, the overly-imaginative book reader fantasizes about a young model (Monroe) temporarily lodging in the apartment upstairs.
The film contains one of the most iconic images of the 20th century --The Flower. Photographer George S Zimbel provides the backstory: "A beautiful blonde in a white dress walks along Lexington Avenue with her "summer bachelor" friend. They walk over a subway air vent as a train speeds by below. The updraft of warm air catches her dress like a parachute. It billows up and up. The guy is flustered, the blonde is surprised. (End of scene.)”.
Zimbel remembers "the night (Sept 11, 1954) I shot Marilyn Monroe".
Fellow photographer George Karger asked the 25 year old Zimbel, "Kid, who would you photograph as the most renowned world figure?" "[H]ow about Marilyn Monroe?" The question was not rhetorical. Marilyn was coming to town and he generously gave me his credentials”.
In 1929 George S. Zimbel was born in Woburn, MA to Morris Zimbel and Tillie Gruzen. Zimbel continues to produce new work and print previously unseen images from his archive. In an era of increased manipulation of the photographic image by computer technology, Zimbel's commitment to the "straight" photograph has become stronger.

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