In 1887, in Cologne, Germany, Max Lobbenberg and Emil Blumenau founded 'Ski Corset', a corsetry company which survived the First World War and the Great Depression to become one of the most successful manufacturers in Germany, with subsidiary companies in Paris, Amsterdam, London and the U.S.A. The rise of the Nazis forced the Jewish owners to sell Ski Corset to a Bavarian Company; but the London subsidiary, under Hans Blumenau (son of Emil) continued to operate, under a different name. ‘Silhouette Corset’ was born and, throughout the 1930s, it flourished to become one of the UK’s leading corsetry companies.
As well as providing traditional foundationwear garments to the women of Britain, it was during this early period that Silhouette, always at the forefront of innovation, brought into existence the world's first (and perhaps only) radioactive corset. In 1937, the company successfully marketed the ‘Silhouette Radiante’ to a British public eager to try for themselves the "...stimulating, even rejuvenating influence” of radiation (certified by no lesser authority than the Marie Curie Institute). The company also helped the Second World War effort, by making bras and suspender belts for the W.A.F.S., A.T.S. and W.R.E.N.S. In the late 1940's, Silhouette moved to Shrewsbury, while retaining a London showroom.
The following decade saw a move away from the traditional corset towards the infinitely more comfortable 'elastic girdle'. Silhouette were one of the first companies to promote the new style of corsetry in the UK, using American advertising slogans ('You ought to be hugged not squeezed', 'You look so naughty feel so nice') to replace the more practical advertising of earlier days. The Little X girdle, designed by Ann-Marie Lobbenberg in 1958, proved to be particularly popular amongst younger women.
Silhouette continued to develop and grow over the succeeding decades, still run by members of the original Lobbenberg and Blumenau families. By 1969, the company owned five factories and employed 1,900 people. The Silhouette brand was sold in 61 countries and the firm was a main supplier for Marks and Spencer, as well as being the the largest swimwear manufacturer in Britain. Its popularity was helped by its reputation, acquired over the years, for excellent fit.
In 1979, family members decided to sell Silhouette, and the company changed hands several times before being bought by M.T.M in 1981. M.T.M. owned Spencers, an established company known particularly for their made-to-measure corsetry, and realised that the fashionable Silhouette brand would compliment their own, more traditional product. Silhouette production was transferred to the Spencer factory in Banbury.
In 1984, things changed again, after Silhouette/Spencer underwent a management buy out. It was recognised that such a relatively small company could not compete directly with the giants of the body fashion industry and a decision was made to target niche markets. This strategy benefited the company enormously, allowing us to build a strong reputation in such areas as maternity wear and mastectomy wear, as well as basques, strapless bras and garments with larger cup fittings.
In 1989, Silhouette was bought by Remploy and became part of the newly formed Textile Group. After Remploy decided to withdraw from lingerie manufacturing, Silhouette was bought by a group of private investors who continued the business as Silhouette Ltd. As a result of the spiraling cost of manufacturing in the UK, Silhouette Ltd went into liquidation in December 2003, but in January 2004, Silhouette Lingerie Ltd bought the designs, machinery and intellectual property rights from the administrators for Silhouette and has continued to produce high quality lingerie items, including the popular Silhouette brands Cascade, Euphoria, Paysanne, and the Madame X and Little X control garments.
Through the changing years, the Silhouette brand has consistently maintained its commitment to comfort, quality and excellent fit; and we firmly believe that this is what has kept our customers coming back. Try us, if you haven’t already, and we'll convince you too!
Head of Sales & Marketing