Headquarters and the Models

 

The Annual Visit to HQ

The relationship of the corsetiere to Headquarters was very strong, particularly after the Second World War, and during this period all corsetieres were given a chance to visit Letchworth each year. This gave the company a chance to say "thank you" to its sales force, and also gave the corsetieres the chance to see the latest models that they would soon be selling.

The latest styles of brassiere  and corselette are handed round in 1957 and 1960. Both are far stronger quality than the less successful garments of the 1980's.

Two corsetieres in their 60's in the late 50's meet and discuss the latest styles at Letchworth. Quite obviously, one of these 'elderly' women has adopted one of Spirella's more modern brassiere styles (1958). In the same year, another group of corsetieres discuss the merits of the latest girdle.

 

In 1957, Spirella puts on an amazing display of their wares at HQ. In 1965, two ladies regard the newest lightweight material that can be incorporated into the 515 lacing girdle. Note how the light colour of the stand shows through the material of the garments to reveal their structure. This is often used to good effect by several vendors on the Ebay auctions.

 

The Models from HQ

Spirella had a number of favourite models, and these ladies would demonstrate the latest lines to hundreds of keen corsetieres from all over the country. Sometimes, Spirella's favourite 'mature' models would demonstrate the corsets, but equally, in the catalogues, some remarkably young models are laced into their 305's. What appears quite extraordinary today is that these women would wander around the displays discussing their underpinnings with the corsetieres.

 

Professional Shows:

Spirella certainly had their favourite models and the very shapely woman on the left (by no means in her first flush of youth) was often to be see strutting the cat-walks and corridors of Spirella HQ in her 305's and corselettes.

         

 

From 1948 (above), 1950 (below) and 1957 (below right), the display of corsetry by professional models both on and off the cat-walk was a regular event.

 

Amateur Shows:

What is quite obvious from the house magazines of the time is that many of the ladies at the Spirella shows were not professional models, but simply corsetieres themselves. This would be good practice for them, since all forms of advertising were used by the company from adverts in the local newspapers to modelling shows where (amazingly for the 1960's) corsetieres and their friends would parade in front of prospective customers in their underwear. These shows took place away from Head Office in local halls and even corsetiere's houses. Daughters and friends were encouraged to join in. It is noticeable that the women at these shows often wore black underwear, whereas white and tea rose were the most popular colours actually sold. Perhaps wearing black was more like a show, or 'something special' rather than candidly walking around in one's everyday underwear. Notice that Spirella had stockings made with coloured tops to match the foundations being modelled. It certainly photographs better than a standard stocking. It seems that Spirella had these stockings made for the publicity photographs since they appear on the professionally modelled pictures. The long-suffering corsetieres had to pay, which explains the various styles of stocking top in the amateur photographs. 

Fitters from 1960 model girdles, corsets and a corselette from the Spirella range. The models are all corsetieres, friends and somebody's daughter. The levels of confidence vary considerably, but this was 1960.

Even the Scottish in 1966 would parade in their intimates, including a Grandmother with 15 children standing second from the right, next to the corsetiere. The ladies are all satisfied customers and really very stylish.  In fact, they make a very good advertisement for Spirella, and put many modern women to shame.

There was no end to the ingenuity of the corsetieres as they transported their samples across the country to various events. From 1961, a Spirella corsetiere poses as she inserts a model for a local fashion show into her car. In 1957, a fitter uses her van as a mobile display unit.

 

What lies Beneath 

Spirella attempted some charming photographs in the 1950's of what a lady might be expected to wear under her stylish dress of the period. This is similar to several US girdle advertisements from this era.

 

From the Spirella house magazines of the mid-1950's, come a good idea of the correct underwear to match the outfit.