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Frederick's of Hollywood

frederick’s lingerie company’s undergarments

Frederick’s of Hollywood originated as a New York mail-order company which specialized in intimate apparel. Frederick Mellinger, called “Mr. Frederick,” began the business in 1946. He opened his first store on Hollywood Boulevard to take advantage of the glitz and glamor that surrounded movie stars.

Much of Frederick’s initial success can be attributed to Mellinger’s inclusion of black lingerie. This European-style lingerie was quite a departure from the standard white undergarments worn by most American women. Frederick’s lingerie was designed from a man’s perspective, producing a man’s ideal of women’s undergarments. Frederick’s draws female custom-ers, male customers buying lingerie for women, and cross-dressing men, attracted by the anonymity of mail order and the availability of larger sizes.

Over the years Frederick’s has popularized many lingerie innovations including one of the first push-up bras in 1948, front-hook bras, and bras with shoulder pads. All of the company’s undergarments worked together to create the firm yet feminine silhouette of the 1950s. By providing this important infrastructure in a fashionable way, the company became a household name if only in the bedroom. Frederick’s experienced a resurgence of recognition in the 1980s when MTV stars, including Madonna and Cyndi Lauper, wore underwear as outerwear. One of the company’s most notable products during this decade was the bustier, an often strapless, tight-fitting top worn instead of a brassiere or as outerwear. It continues to be one of the few companies that carries an extensive line of the garment.

The late 1990s brought many changes to the time-honored company. Knightbridge Capital acquired Frederick’s in 1997. During that same year, the company launched its highly successful website. For over fifty years Frederick’s relied on its long-standing image of overtly sexy lingerie modeled by bold, brash pinup girls. When Terry Patterson took over as the company’s first female chief executive officer in 1998, she began updating the company’s image. Aiming to offer lingerie from a woman’s perspective, Patterson gave the models and lingerie a softer, more natural look. Also, she consolidated the catalog and the more than 200 stores of retail operation into one harmonious entity. In the process, the stores were remodeled to fit the company’s new image. As it embarked upon the new millennium, Frederick’s poised itself to take advantage of the less-closeted attitudes about prevailing undergarments.


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