Masion Lejaby cute plus size lingerie celebrate their 130th birthday this year and the journey has taken them from creating insulating material for underwear to the current range of gorgeous modern French lingerie. Here’s a look at the journey and some lookbook covers from the past.
Back in 1880 a gentleman called Louis Neyron invented a new insulating material that was promoted for its hygienic properties and used it to create a new range of undergarments. At that time, medical endorsements were worth their weight in gold, so Louis joined forces with a Doctor Rasurel, who lent his name to the first French undergarments range.
The result of this collaboration was a range of underpants, undershirts, slippers and kneepieces that were an instant success.
Louis died in 1917 and his powerful feminist wife Felicie de Champollon took over the business and created the companies first lingerie which included combinations, petticoats, corsets, briefs.
During the Roaring Twenties Pierre Neyron joined the company and started to revolutionise the styles. In 1927 Rasurel launched their first Swimwear range and they used clever advertising along holiday routes and at events like the Tour de France which turned Rasurel into a household name in France.
The late 20’s was the start of the golden age of screen and women such as Marlene Dietrich and Ginger Rogers were seen floating across the screen in black frills and swirling veils and bras were becoming much more popular and a guy called Marcel Blanchard was running a cinema called “Les Varietes”.
Marcel’s sister-in-law, Gaby was entranced by these movies and in her backroom she tries her hand at making her first brassieres.
Gaby’s brassieres were an instant success and her first name becomes the inspiration behind the brand Lejaby which was created by Marcel in 1930.
After the war there was a resurgence of femininity and elegance and Lejaby started using new technologies and materials such as Nylon and the company began to gain a worldwide reputation. Sadly Gabby died in 1954 but the Blanchards carried on and by 1958 there had 400 people working at their Bellgarde factory.
After another death, this time Marcel, the company was bought by brothers Maurice and Charles Bugnon who were real entrepreneurs and they worked out an exclusive deal with American company Du Pont de Nemours to use one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century: Lycra!
The first bra to be made with Lycra was launched under the name of Miss Top in 1965 and was a massive success selling 3 million units. It was completely revolutionary at a time when change for women was happening all over Western Europe.
In 1966 the Bugnon brothers bought out Rasurel joining the companies together.
This was the burn-your-bra era and Lejaby managed to capture the spirit of this liberation by launching its Liberty line, with a strap line, “Charm, seduction, beauty”. The bra was non-wired and was the first to come in a range of different colours – a choice of 6!
The whole of the 80’s was growth time for the brands and they capitalised on this growth by recruiting actress Isabelle Adjani, a huge star of the day, to help launch their Eglantine collection. The collections were bang up to date and very bold in typical 80’s styling.
During the 90’s Lejaby was experimenting with microfibres and in 1995 launched the seamless and invisible Nuage bra which has seen over 15 million sales to date. In the same year Maurice Bugnon died and in 1996 Lejaby & Rasurel were bought by American firm Warnaco who merged the company into one single entity, Lejaby.
The early years of the 21st Century saw many in the lingerie industry move to manufacturing offshore and this put a lot of price pressure on the likes of Lejaby. In 2008 the company was sold to the Palmers Group. Lajaby resisted the sale as they didn’t want to loose their skilled workers and lace making facilities. The sale took place and the brand stated to loose loyal customers, had to make redundancies and found itself in serious difficulties.
In January 2012 the second in charge of the Chantelle Group and CEO of La Perla, Alain Prost, took over the running of the company.
Aware of the long cute plus size lingerie history of the company and the talent of designers he changed the name of the company to Maison Lejaby and bought back the spirit of innovation and creativity.