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Empreinte Elise Saphir

Full Busted and Fully French

Empreinte and the Making of a Truly Great (and Truly French) Bra

Featured above: Elise Saphir

They say that behind every great man there’s a great woman (which, of course, is true). But behind every great woman there’s often a great bra – and behind
that, there’s always a great team of specialists, because making a truly great bra is on par with building a bridge or a skyscraper. No kidding. 

On her web site, Jenette Goldstein of Jenette Bras quotes the president of a lingerie company in the 1950’s who wrote: “More engineering time, skill, and effort goes into a brassiere than into a major steel and concrete bridge because of the unique stresses and strains involved. Among the sections to be harmoniously united: cups, stitching, hooks, eyes, wires, straps, gores, bones, bands, trimming and lining. Among the structural materials: cotton, nylon, silk, plush, batiste, rubber, plastic, iron, steel.”

Not long after he penned those words, journalist Edward Nanas wrote an article called “Brassieres: An Engineering Miracle” in which he concluded: “In many respects, the challenge of enclosing and supporting a semi-solid mass of variable volume and shape involves a design effort comparable to that of building a bridge or a cantilevered skyscraper.”

Yes, you read that correctly: building a bra poses the same engineering challenges as building a bridge or a skyscraper.

Of course, any full busted woman will tell you how hard it is to support her “semi-solid mass of variable volume and shape” in a bra that’s both beautiful and comfortable. Some of us remember the days when full busted women in America wore support bras with more armor than a jeep. Sadly, those women weren’t familiar with Empreinte.

Empreinte is, bar none, the Rolls Royce of bras for well-endowed women. Celebrating its 70th year of outstanding design excellence (Happy Birthday, Empreinte!), it has been quietly transforming women’s lives with the most outstanding, technically perfect, and simply gorgeous lingerie imaginable, with cups that go up to H.

Elise Rubis

Empreinte is located in Brittany and blessed with a stellar product design and development team; one of those product development specialists is Isabelle Caradec. Isabelle has been working with Empreinte for close to two decades and is deeply involved in nearly every aspect of the development of these gems. “The work I do at Empreinte is very specialized and technical,” she says, “but it also involves working with real women and incorporating their direct feedback into the production of our work. It is absolutely fascinating work and I love it.”

We recently went behind-the-scenes to ask a few questions of Isabelle.

Isabelle CaradecLingerie Française: What’s the biggest challenge in designing lingerie for full busted women?

Isabelle Caradec: It’s an ensemble of things: It all starts by working in tight collaboration with designers. We go through five closings – one closing session per month for five months -  to finalize one collection; that’s when we find the right fabrics for the perfect Empreinte fit and when we choose shapes, colors, all of the embellishments and finishings. And then there’s the long cycle of product development and perfecting various product prototypes.

LF: How long does that process take?

IC: Up 6 to 8 weeks per bra, depending on the product, which is enormous with respect to our competitors. We have around 30 models  - women from all walks of life who we see regularly. They wear our prototypes  - they wear them, wash them, put in them and off in different situations - and give us their feedback about every single detail. We then make adjustments accordingly for the perfect fit – a change here, a tweak there. It’s great, because we get constant live feedback from real women about what works and what doesn’t work. We are extremely responsive to them, and this attention goes back in our products.

Once that phase is done, we have what we call “mini-productions” to make sure that everything works on an industrial level before we move into a new production phase. The products come back to our warehouse and we do another series of fittings to make sure that everything is perfect with respect to the feedback we got in our previous fittings. We still work very closely with the product even during the production phase. In fact, we’re  involved in pretty much everything from concept development to the moment the products are shipped out for distribution.

LF: That entire process then - from the concept of a bra to that bra making its way to a boutique - takes how long?

IC : Around two years. For example, right now we’re doing the first ‘closing’ and defining and finalizing a collection for summer 2018.

LF: Tell us more about the lucky French women who test your products.

IC: They’re women we encounter in our daily lives - women we might even pass on the streets. It’s sometimes a bit delicate to come up to them and ask if they know of the brand, but it happens: I’ll be in a department store and watch a woman trying to find her size in the lingerie department; she’ll be having a hard time and will ask for advice from salespeople or from a friend. And I’ll come up to her and ask if she’s hear of Empreinte; I’ll tell her what I do and ask if she’d be willing to be a model for us.

Some of them are a bit intimidated in the beginning because they’re not used to getting down to their lingerie and having people around them – sometimes lots of people – looking at the product as they try it on. And sometimes when they’re trying on the product and it’s not fitting properly, the models will say: “Oh, it’s me! The problem is with me and my body!” We assure them that it’s the product that isn’t fitting her body, not her body that isn’t fitting the product.

LF: The end result is that your products fit the full-busted body like a glove. Women who discover Empreinte, particularly during your fittings, must be very happy.

IC: Yes, most of the time they’re very, very happy with the experience and are truly delighted to help us and see how we work. We’ve seen young women transformed; some of them were a bit uncomfortable with their size or former bras that never highlighted their busts. Wearing Empreinte radically changed all that. It’s super. These women never had the experience of feeling good in their bodies or having their busts supported and showcased so superbly.

We always hear women say: “I’ve never seen or felt this! You have no idea how happy you’ve made me!” We hear this and witness women’s lives transformed everyday. After all, being full-busted involves carrying lot of extra weight, no matter how much you actually weigh. Empreinte helps make carrying this load much easier. There’s real emotion around all this in the fitting room.

LF: Empreinte truly helps women lighten their load and lighten up - that's dreamy!

Here's a look at the glorious Empreinte lingerie brought to us by Isabelle and her terrific team:

P.S. Check out Empreinte's sensational swimwear collection and the five Empreinte bras you can't live without.

Apolline Amethyste

Apolline Body

Elise opale

Irina Bleu

Cassiopee Rose Sauvage

Melody Rouge

Misia Orage

Maya Noir

Ornella Violine
July 15, 2016 
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