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30 June 2013

Discovery of 600-Year-Old Lingerie Rewrites Fashion's History

Nothing like this has ever come up before...These finds are a very exciting insight into the way people dressed in the Middle Ages... It's rare that everyday garments of any kind survive from this period, let alone underwear."
- Hilary Davidson, The Museum of London's Fashion Curator, interview with the Daily Mail

Every morning, millions of women get up and put on a bra and panties, whatever shape, style, and colour they may be. For over 100,000 years (the length of time we as people were noted to have begun wearing clothes), women questioned how to dress their breasts. Breasts, being the prominent feature of femaleness, are flexible, functional, and desirable.

From a discovery made by Universität Innsbruck archaeologists, we learn of 600-year-old lace-and-linen female underwear that predate the invention of the modern brassiere and panties by hundreds of years.

These garments were found hidden under the floorboards of Lengberg Castle in East Tyrol, Austria, along with some 2,700 textile remains and one completely preserved pair of (presumably male) linen underpants. Fibre samples from the two intact bras found were sent to the ETH (Eidgenössissche Technische Hochschule = Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) in Zürich to be Carbon-14 dated. In addition, fibre samples of the pair of underpants and two other textiles were also radiocarbon-dated. Both tests confirmed the dating of the finds to be to the 15th century.

Above: Lengberg Castle, East Tyrol, Austria


There are several theories on who developed the first bra. Most believed that the original designer was either Herminie Cadolle, a corset-maker in late 18th century France, or Mary Phelps Jacob, a New York socialite who was awarded the U.S. patent in 1914.

Although women's stiffened bodices from the late 15th century created torsos of smooth, unnatural geometry, breasts remained as sculpted round monobusts for two centuries. When the "Natural" body fashions came about in 1800, the lift-and-separate became the mode du jour, using gussets for each breast. In 1813, Jane Austen was amused that "stays now are not made to force the bosom up at all; that was a very unbecoming, unnatural fashion".

History has demonstrated little indication that bras with clearly visible cups existed before the 19th century, according to Team Leader Beatrix Nutz, an archaeologist with the Institute of Archaeologies at the University of Innsbruck, who made the find. “My first thought was what probably anybody would have thought, ‘That´s impossible, there aren´t such things as bras in the 15th century,’” Nutz tells Ecouterre.

In the medieval era, we know women wore linen tunics, washable chemises, smocks, and shifts underneath, so as to protect their outer garments. The approach to handling breasts was previously unknown, except that they used tight gowns, which, if cut well, supported the bust. The Lengberg discovery is the missing link to this previously unknown history on medieval female undergarments.

Throughout the ages, people's attire has told us about one's relationship with themselves and their environment. How women manage their breasts is one of the most intimate and fascinating ways to understand the social concerns during any era. Ms. Nutz notes that people had similar daily concerns to now: enhancing or reducing the bust "so there is no gossip in the city."

Unlike female undergarments, male underpants are frequently depicted in medieval imagery.

There has been some documentation found describing the wear of female underwear during the medieval era. There is a court record of a rape trial in the mid-14th-century Paris. Describing the assault, the 12-year-old plaintiff testified that the accused "la jeta à terre et avala ses braies" - threw her to the ground and pulled down her underpants.

In the mid-14th-century Paris it was normal for at least some women to wear underpants at least some of the time. However, per historians, underwear was considered more a symbol of male dominance.

Author Louis Tanon published Histoire des Justices des Anciennes Églises et Communautés Monastiques de Paris in Paris in 1883. Transcribed within is the Registre Criminel de Saint-Martin-des-Champs, which notes this case.

The 12-year-old Parisian girl used the word for male underpants, 'braeis', which suggests that they were either identical to the male garments of the time - which were considerably longer and baggier than the ones shown below, in this article - or similar enough to those made for males.

There are limited amounts of written medieval sources on possible female breast support, but they are rather vague on the topic. Henri de Mondeville, surgeon to Philip the Fair of France and his successor Louis X, wrote in his Cyrurgia in 1312–20: “Some women… insert two bags in their dresses, adjusted to the breasts, fitting tight, and they put them [the breasts] into them [the bags]every morning and fasten them when possible with a matching band.”

The ‘bags’ referenced served the same purpose as antique breast bands – that is to contain very large breasts. However, in Konrad Stolle's chronicle of Thuringia and Erfurt in 1480, he complains that the “shirts with bags in which they put their breasts” seems to have had obtained the opposite effect one would think, as he concludes his description with the words “all indecent”.

Additionally, the following is an extract from “Meister Reuauß”, a satirical poem of the 15th century (Vienna, Austrian National Library Cod. 2880, fol. 130v to 141r), from: Schönbach 1873, p. 18. Below the extract is the English translation, translated by Ms. Nutz.

Ir manche macht zwen tuttenseck

Damit so snurt sie umb die eck,

Das sie anschau ein ieder knab,

Wie sie hübsche tütlein hab;

Aber welcher sie zu groß sein,

Die macht enge secklein,

Das man icht sag in der stat,

Das sie so groß tutten hab.


Many a woman makes two bags for the breasts with

it she roams the streets,

so that all the guys look at her,

and see what beautiful breasts she has got;

But whose breasts are too large,

makes tight pouches,

so it is not told in the city,

that she has such big breasts.

This and other written sources can also be found in: Kania 2010, p. 132-133 (in German).

Stays, or corsets, have been worn from bust to hip. In the 1900s, women began wearing "brassieres," - short, sleeveless camisoles - over corsets, to hold everything together and to avoid the pesky muffin-tops. Narrow-strapped brassieres appeared in the 1910s and the corset began to disappear through the 1920s. In the 1930s, women began using slinky, bias-cut gowns, which were as soft and natural as the first appearance, in what we know now to be the Austrian design.

Lingerie is a French word for "things made from linen." Fibre usually decays in damp ground, if buried, and suffers meticulous reuse if left behind. Medieval linen rarely survives. Those pieces that due survive the times are typically royal or saintly relics. The London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre has a collection of everyday medieval textile and clothing pieces excavated from the Thames, which yielded just a few scraps of linen and piles of wool and silk outer garments. To find any medieval linen in tact is surely a great find and exciting in itself.

Men have been known to have worn under-shirts and braies (medieval underpants resembling modern-day boxer shorts). Women were known to have worn a smock or chemise and no pants. These things were all we have known about medieval underwear. Now, because of the following archaeological finds within Lengberg Castle in Austria, we have a better idea of what some women wore underneath their dresses.

(Right) Lengberg Castle, East-Tyrol: 15th century linen “bra”
(Foto: © Institute for Archaeologies)

This antique büstenhalter (jub buckets) was located in a rubbish-filled vault in Lengberg Castle.

The university says it's similar to a 1950's modern longline bra. They explain: "The cups are each made from two pieces of linen sewn together vertically... The surrounding fabric of somewhat coarser linen extends down to the bottom of the ribcage with a row of six eyelets on the left side of the body for fastening with a lace. The corresponding row of eyelets is missing... Needle-lace is sewn onto the cups and the fabric above thus decorating the cleavage. In the triangular area between the two cups there might have been additional decoration, maybe another sprang work."

The above mosaic is from the Villa Romana del Casale in Sicily and it is often noted as the 'bikini girls', but these women are clearly athletes and their 'bikinis' look more like contemporary, elite, women's athletic apparel.


First documented in 1190, the Lengberg Castle was rebuilt and extended into a representative palais in 1480, by adding a second floor. In July 2008, when the castle was undergoing extensive reconstruction, a vault filled with waste was found beneath the floorboards of a room on the second storey. It is believed that the items found were buried when the building was extended in 1480 and that the exceptionally dry conditions in the vault stopped the fragile garments from disintegrating over the centuries. Items such as shoes and textiles had been extremely well preserved

The discovery included four bras and two pairs of pants. Two of the bras resemble modern counterparts, but the others are described rather bluntly as ‘shirts with bags’, the August issue of the BBC History Magazine reports. These bras were particular in that they had distinct cut cups. In contrast, the antique Greek or Roman breast bands we have knowledge of were simply strips of cloth or leather wound around the breasts and designed to flatten rather to enhance.

The two ‘bras’ from Lengberg Castle that seem to be ‘shirts with bags’ are unfortunately fragmented, with only one cup preserved, but they appear to have had additional cloth above the cups to cover the cleavage, thus being a combination of a shirt, ending right below the breasts, and a bra.

The third brassiere looks a lot more like a modern bra and is possibly what the unknown German author from 'Meister Reuauß' was referring to. This brassiere has two broad shoulder straps and, as noted from the partially torn edges at the cups, indication of a back strap. The shoulder straps are elaborately decorated with needle-lace on the shoulder straps.

All the bras found are decorated at the lower end with finger-loop-braided laces and needle-lace.

Medieval Lingerie - BBC History
Lengberg Castle, East-Tyrol: pair of linen male underpants
(Foto: © Institute for Archaeologies)

The fourth found 'bra' (shown above).

It is unclear to whether all women in the Middle Ages wore breast coverings, but some definitely did. It seems that it was socially acceptable to wear undergarments as a woman, but if a brassiere were worn, then they were worn to flatten, not enhance, the bosom. Enhancing the bosom was not, as writings suggest, socially acceptable.

Prior to this find, it was believed that women did not wear underwear until as late
as the end of the 18th century.

It may have been unconventional and frowned upon for women to wear undergarments, but it doesn't mean that there weren't those that did. One has to question a woman's menstruation cycle control.

During the centuries before us, most stories were told by men, due to the educational boundaries of women. Most sources state that women did nothing, which evokes imagery of women bleeding wherever they went during this time of their cycle. "However, there are two translations of the Bible, the Douay–Rheims Bible (1609–10) and the King James Bible (1611), which mention “rags of a menstruous woman” (Isaiah 64/6) and “menstruous cloth” (Isaiah 30/22). To have it translated that way suggests that the translator must have known about the possible use of a strip of cloth used particularly for this purpose – and underpants would have been necessary to have kept those ‘rags’ in place." (1)

Even though the use of female undergarments was frowned upon, there were still women noted in history to have wore them. For example, Eleanor of Toledo (1522–62) owned a pair in 1561, later, many pairs were made for Maria de Medici (1573–1642), the new Queen of France, and even English Queen Elizabeth I was noted to have worn them. Pietro Bertelli also notes Venetian courtesans wearing underwear in his 'Costumes of Different Nations' (1594).

To the left is a book illustration from a German translation of Giovanni Boccaccio’s Famous Women, which was published in 1474. It displays a lady-in-waiting of Semiramis, Queen of the Assyrians, wearing underpants. But of the Queen, it is said “Semiramis, a woman once Ninus’ wife, masqueraded as a boy, his son” and “it is believed that she gave herself to many men. Among her lovers was her own son Ninyas.


1. BBC History Magazine, Vol. 13, no 10 - Oct-2012 and Vol. 13, no 8 - Aug-2012

2. "Austrians drool over 15th-century jub buckets Earliest known bra unearthed in East Tyrol" By Lester Haines

3. Medieval Lingerie from Lengberg Castle in East Tyrol - Universität Innsbruck

4. Found Castle Vault Scraps - Lace Lingerie the Rage 500 Years Ago - The Daily Mail

5. Ecouterre - Medieval Lingerie

6. Article: "Medieval 'Lingerie' From 15th Century Castle Stuns Fashion Historians"
by Jasmin Malik Chua, 18-Jul-2012

7. "Medieval bras uncover the fascinating history of women's daily support needs" by Hilary Davidson, 20-Jul-2012, The Guardian

8. Universität Innsbruck: Medieval Lingerie from Lengberg Castle - East-Tyrol

9. "On the 'medieval bra'", Mel Campbell, 26-Jul-2012,
Footpath Zeitgeist

12 October 2009

Giorgio Armani, S.p.A.

The mission of Giorgio Armani is to continually create clothes and accessories that aspire to a kind of perfection that transcends through fashion.

Giorgio Armani was born on 11 July 1934, in Piacenza, Italia, which was bombed repeatedly during World War II (WWII).  Giorgio moved to Milano with his family (including a brother and sister) in 1949.  Giorgio initially went to Medical School in Milano, but dropped-out in 1957 to take a job as a buyer.  He held this position for seven years at La Rinascente department store.

Between 1961 and 1970, Giorgio worked at a fashion house, Nino Cerruti, as an assistant designer, where he designed for the menswear label "Hitman."  Giorgio left in 1970 to pursue freelance work.  In 1974, Giorgio partnered with Sergio Galeotti to establish his first freelance menswear label, Armani.  The two sold their used Volkswagens for start-up capital for the Giorgio Armani, S.p.A. company, as told to Forbes.  The womenswear line was introduced in 1975.  Giorgio's sister, Rosanna, joined the group as well.
Giorgio Armani
In 1979, the Giorgio Armani Corporation was first established in the United States.
American Gigolo (1980) was the first time Armani was seen on the big screen, designed for Richard Gere's character.  Armani also designed made-to-measure suits in 2008 for Bruce Wayne's character (Christian Bale) in The Dark Knight and for Batman (1989).  Armani also designed clothing for the following films/tv series: Pulp Fiction (Emporio Armani), Ready to Wear/Prêt-à-Porter (1994), and was responsible for much of the pastel wardrobe for Miami Vice (TV series, 1980s).  Armani also provided wardrobes for musicians, such as: Billy Joel, David Bowie, Paul Simon, and Eric Clapton.

In 1983, Giorgio Armani was awarded the CFDA International Award.

Galeotti died at his home in Milano in 1985 due to a heart attack, caused from the AIDS virus.

In the late 1980s, early 1990s, Giorgio turned down several offers for takeovers from designers such as Jeanne Lanvin design house, Prada, Gucci, and LVMH.  Remaining the sole controller of the company.

Armani Exchange (A/X) store first opened in New York City in 1991.  And in 1997, Collezioni Giorgio Armani stores opened in Milano, Tokyo, and London.  The Armani Signature label is the most expensive of all Armani labels and is available in 75 of its worldwide boutiques.

Of all the designers, Armani was the first to ban models with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of under 18, due to the aftereffect of model Ana Carolina Reston's death, which resulted in her starving herself to death (anorexia nervosa).

Samsung joined Armani in 2007 to design the first Giorgio Armani phone.

Armani opened the first official Armani Ristorante in the United States in New York, in February 2009.
Giorgio Armani (New York City, 2009)
Fur Controversy:
Giorgio told Time magazine in July of 2007 that viewing PETA materials "convinced me not to use fur."  However, Armani's Fall 2008 collection, according to PETA, included fur coats for babies, floral printed furs, fur-hemmed skirts, and fur-trimmed jackets.  PETA had contacted several celebrities asking to not wear Armani-designed clothes, since the fashion show.

The clothing that is presented at Armani has always ignored the constant demand for novelty and possesses an elevated character.  Giorgio's approach to fashion is being timeless, and yet always timely.

Since 2001 the company was acclaimed as the most successful designer to come out of Italy and one of the world's leading fashion houses.  Forbes named Armani the most successful Italian designer.  Armani was given the same award in 2006.


Giorgio Armani Official Website 
Wikipedia - Giorgio Armani 
Funding Universe - Armani Company History 
Fragrance X - Armani History & Background 
Your New Fragrance - Giorgio Armani

Gianni Versace, S.p.A.

"I've always said that I would like to mix rock and simplicity because this is fashion, they're the extremes, chic and shock. That's why Lady Diana and Madonna--two of the most important women of the moment--wear Versace and I think I'm satisfied by this. Even if it took me twenty years, I've got to where I wanted to go."
-- Gianni Versace --

On December 2, 1946, Gianni Versace was born in Reggio Calabria, Italy.  Gianni began working as a freelance designer after an apprenticeship at his mother's, Francesca, dressmaking business.  His mother fashioned gowns for the region's elite.  Gianni was sent out for precious stones and materials for these gowns.   Right before entering the work in fashion design, Gianni moved to Milano to study architecture. 

Ezio Nicosia, owner of Florentine Flowers of Lucca, invited Gianni in 1972 to his first fashion design opportunity (outside the family businesses), designing a knitwear collection for the fall and winter, in Milano.  He was so successful that he even earned a Volkswagen convertible as a bonus to his regular fee.  By 25, Gianni was creating prêt-à-porter collections for the top fashion houses of the time.  Those include: Genny, Complice, Alma, De Parisini of Santa Margherita, and Callaghan.

With the help of Gianni's older brother, Santo, the Gianni Versace company was founded in 1978.  Santo was an accountant and became the managing director and chairman of Gianni Versace SpA.  Younger sister, Donatella, began coordinating accessories with Gianni's designs and moved quickly into promotional work and advertising.  Gianni used to call her his "inspiring muse."

Santo, Donatella, e Gianni Versace

That same year, the first Gianni Versace women's collection was shown in Milano, Italy at the Palazzo della Permanente Museo del'Arte.  Later that same year, Gianni's first menswear collection followed.  Gianni also began to work with Jorge Saud, who later would become partners with Giorgio Armani.

In 1978, the first official Versace boutique opened in Milano's Via della Spiga.

Gianni e Donatella

Gianni consistently challenged the boundaries of the fashion industry with his bold, creative genius.  Gianni is known for his distinctive cuts, vibrant prints, and unconventional materials.  He united high-art and contemporary culture.  Gianni was most influenced by Andy Warhol, Ancient Roman and Greek art, as well as modern abstract art.  It was not long before he earned international praise. 

Gianni won the Cutty Sark and Golden Eye ("L'Occhio d'Oro") awards in 1982, for his 1982-1983 Fall/Winter women's collection.  In this collection, Gianni introduced his famous metal chain-mail dress.  The L'Occhio d'Oro was also awarded to Gianni Versace in 1984, 1990, and 1991.

In 1982, Gianni began working for the Teatro della Scala (Milano), designing costumes.  He continued designing costumes for this theatre until 1989.  Gianni was awarded the "Maschera d'Argento" (Silver Mask) award in 1985, for his contribution to this theatre.  Gianni continued to design costumes for various films and TV series, such as: Miami Vice (1989, TV series) and Judge Dredd, among others, between 1989 and 1997.

Openly gay, Versace and his partner, Antonio D'Amico (whom he met in 1982), were regulars on the international party scene.  Antonio was a model.  D'Amico eventually worked as a designer for the company, becoming head designer for Istante and Versus Sport.
D'Amico e Versace

The Jury of the Cutty Sark Award named Gianni "the most innovative and creative designer in the world," in 1988.  The Council of Fashion Designers of America awarded Gianni, in 1993, the American Fashion Oscar.  He was also honored by both the Italian and French presidents.

The Versace flagship was first opened in 1994, in Kurfürstendamm, Berlin.  That same year, the "Versace Signatures" exhibition first opened at the Kunstgewerbemuseum.

Between 1994 - 1996, Gianni published four books (in both English and Italian).  These books were: "Designs," "Men Without Ties," "Do Not Disturb," and "Rock and Royalty."

The first Versus fashion show was held in New York in 1995.  Within the same year, Gianni sponsored the Haute Couture exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

On 15 July 1997, Gianni Versace was shot twice, point-blank, in the head and killed by Andrew Cunanan in front of his South Beach, Miami, Florida beach-front property, while getting the mail after his usual morning stroll.  Cunanan used the same gun that he used to kill Versace upon himself on a boat, several days later.

Versace "was killed at his peak, a time when his continual retooling of his inventions had produced his best work ever." Trade magazine Daily News Record asserted that "fashion has lost one of its brightest superstars at the height of his career." Time magazine's John Greenwald concurred that "at his death, the designer was at the height of his powers." Gianni was lost to us barely a month before he had introduced what the Daily News Record called "one of the strongest collections in years."  A statement released by the family shortly after Versace's death asserted that "the indomitable spirit, the amazing vitality and the faith in creativity that makes Gianni Versace so important to everyone is something that we are completely committed to and most capable of continuing."

It was announces in September 1997 that Gianni's brother, Santo, and Jorge Saud would serve as the new CEOs of Gianni Versace S.P.A.  Gianni's younger sister, Donatella, became the new head of design.  The company went public in 1998.  Gianni left de facto control of his global enterprise to his sister Donatella by bequeathing his stake in the company to her, at the time, 11-year-old daughter, Allegra Beck.
Allegra Beck (Top, now)
Gianni Versace e Allegra (Bottom, in Miami Villa)

To this day, the Versace line continues to include the various items, including: men's/women's attire, lingerie, umbrellas, make-up, hosiery, shoes, watches, jewelry, fragrances, home furnishing, tableware, bed and bath, linens, lamps, carpets, jeans, sports-attire, children's attire, and more!  Versace maintains it's second place status among fashion designers in Italy, to the rival house of Giorgio Armani.

Here's to you, Gianni! Sarai mancato!


Versace Official Website


Wikipedia - Gianni Versace 

Funding Universe - Gianni Versace SpA Company History 

Google - Versace Timeline

Official Style Website

Gay TV Official Website

09 October 2009


Adele Casagrande Fendi e Edoardo Fendi

Adele Casagrande founded a leather and fur shop in Via del Plebiscito in central Rome in 1918.   Just married Edoardo and Adele Casagrande Fendi changed the name of the small leathergoods shop and fur worskhop to the name Fendi, in 1925.  During this post-war period, a new middle class was trying to find a way to recover.  With the quality of the bags and the skillful workmanship of the furs, the shop was an immediate success.

A bigger and atelier shop was opened by the Fendis on via Veneto (Roma/Rome) in 1932.  Via Veneto was becoming an important commercial centre during this period.  During this time, the Fendi name becomes well-known outside of Rome as a synonym for taste and style.

Their eldest daughter of five, Paula, was the first to join the company in 1946, at the young age of fifteen.  The other four sisters joined as soon as they completed high school.  During this period, Italy is going through frantic struggles of the post-war reconstruction.  The role of women changed entirely.  A change that will show in the designs during the Fifties.  The five sisters had completely taken the company over by their father's death in 1954, Edoardo Fendi.

The first Fendi fashion show was staged in 1955.

In 1965, Fendi begins to work with Karl Lagerfeld, a young designer who was up and coming in Paris at the time.  With Lagerfeld's assistance, Fendi releases its first couture line, created by him.  The double FF logo was created in this year by Lagerfeld.  Lagerfeld also changed the whole concept of fur while working with Fendi.    He is now the Fendi company's creative director.

Karl Lagerfeld

In 1968, the Fendis make their first appearance in New York (with the help of Bloomingdale's) and Japanese markets. 

In 1978, Adele Casagrande Fendi died when she was 81 years old.

In 1984, Furs, leather goods, and ready-to-wear are continuing in their success and new products, lines, and accessories join the trend.  Jeans, gloves, ties, glasses, lighters, foulards, watches, and pens are added to the Fendi collection.

1985 marks the 60th anniversary of the business and 20th anniversary of working with Karl Lagerfeld.  With these, Fendi presented the first fashion exhibition ever shown in a national Italian museum, at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome.  This show illustrated the complexity of technical and creative work involved in the development of the Fendi collection.  This same year, Fendi launched its first woman's fragrance.  Fendi Uomo was launched in 1989 and equals in success.

Paula Fendi was awarded the title of "Cavaliere del lavoro" in 1986, by the Italian President. 

Fendi uomo (menswear) was launched in 1990.  This line is complete with menswear and accessories for every occasion in a man's life.

Carla Fendi took over as President of the Board, in place of her sister, Paola, in 1994.  By 1995, the Fendi company had 100 boutiques, 2 direct Fendi stores in Rome and New York, and 600 point of sale all over Italy and the world.

Fendi sold 51% of their stock to Prada/LVMH joint venture in 1999.  Since 2001, LVMH owns the majority of the shares for Fendi.

By 2005, Fendi began creating Home Furnishings.

Fendi continues to achieve success.  The name is known world-wide, the quality and style never cease, and continues to be worn by Hollywood's elite.


- www.fendi.com

- http://kunkun.tripod.com/fendi.htm

- http://www.designer-fashion-trends.com/fendi.htm

- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fendi



08 October 2009

Henri Bendel

Henri Bendel is an Ohio-based company that is an upscale women's specialty store that carries women's apparel, fashion accessories, lingerie and loungewear, cosmetics, fragrances, gifts, and gourmet foods.

Henri Bendel was a milliner by trade.  He was the first retailer to bring Coco Chanel designs over to the United States from Paris.  His company today maintains the over a century old tradition of introducing influential socialites to what's new and now in fashion by maintaining close associations with various designers.  These designers include those such as: Anna Sui, Stephen Burrows, Rick Owens, and Diane von Furstenberg.  Through its semi-annual "Open-See" events, Bendel fosters the work of upcoming designers so that the vendors may present their merchandise to corporate buyers on a "first come, first seen" basis.  These designers hope for the chance that their pieces will be selected for a trunk show or even for sale in the Bendel Fifth Avenue store.

Bendel's brand is well-known for its iconic brown-and-white striped shopping bags, its signature hatboxes, and an extensive matching line of cosmetic bags.  Bendel-brand cashmere and merino wool sweaters are also famous.

In 1986, Henri Bendel was bought out by Limited Brands, the apparel conglomerate that owns Victoria's Secret.  Henri Bendel has made the decision in April 2009 to stop carrying apparel.  Bendel is now forcusing on accessories, cosmetics, and home items (such as candles).

Its flagship store is in New York City, established in 1895 (currently located on 712 5th Avenue)

Later additions included:
- Columbus Ohio (Easton Town Center, since 2004)
- Boca Raton, FL (Town Center, since 2008)
- San Diego, CA (Fashion Valley Mall, since 2008)
- Aventura, FL (Aventura Mall, since 2008)
- Troy, MI (The Somerset Collection, since 2009)
- Dallas, TX (NorthPark Center, since 2009)