In 1946, when Frederick Mellinger started his mail order company for lingerie, it is unlikely he imagined that fifty years later, his company would own over 200 stores operating in the US, together with the mail order business accounting for some 47% of revenues, and distributing as many as fifty million catalogues per annum.
When Frederick Mellinger returned from WWII in 1946, he brought with him the idea of selling a sensuous and sophisticated European style of lingerie to American women. When good girls wore white cotton panties, Frederick caused a hullabaloo with his raunchy black panties, bras, and nightgowns.
With only a limited success in New York, Mellinger moved to Hollywood a year later and renamed his company "Frederick's of Hollywood". His sexy lingerie was an instant smash with the Hollywood's film stars, complementing their glamorous lifestyle and image of the time.
Frederick's of Hollywood launched a constant stream of new and pioneering products, from the first padded bra in 1947 to the "Rising Star," the world's first push-up bra 1948.
During the fifties, Mellinger had the nous to market his lingerie in both men's and women's magazines, a strategy which proved very successful.
Many of Mellinger's achievements were owed to his understanding of women, and the fact that lingerie could make women feel beautiful. This, together with the association he had made with the glamorous Hollywood movies of the time, led fashion-conscious women to seek out his pointed, cone-stitched bras, sold under brand names such as Missiles, in their droves.
Frederick's of Hollywood had become a trendsetter. In the sixties, the "Cadillac" bra was launched, and soon became the company's bestseller. Other innovations included the front-hook bra, bras with shoulder pads, padded girdles, and body shapers.
By the seventies, when women were demonstrating and 'burning their bras' outside Frederick's of Hollywood's store, he had enough media sense to proclaim in public that the "law of gravity will win out." It was an incredible publicity coup, and sales of his bras soared across the continent.
It was Frederick's who introduced the thong to American women in 1981. However, a little later, Mellinger had seen the risk in Frederick's of Hollywood associating itself too unashamedly with explicitly sexual lingerie. Conventional American women wanted good quality lingerie, which was soft and sensual, but certainly not seedy; Nevertheless the thong still became one of fastest selling items around the world, despite this caution.
Mellinger always had an aptitude for picking up and coming celebrities to work with as models. Pamela Anderson Lee for example, appeared in his lingerie catalogues and later landed a role in Baywatch.
In 1989, Frederick has opened the world's first Lingerie Museum to huge success.
By the nineties, Frederick's was extremely successful, it continued with its lingerie innovations introducing the Water Bra and the Hollywood Kiss with its "wishbone" construction. Frederick's had also expanded its range to include dresses, sportswear, swimwear, hosiery, and accessories to name but a few.
Frederick Mellinger retired in 1984, and died in 1990, but the company
was positioned to provide the lingerie market with original and innovative
lingerie items and continue to satisfy women's unchanging desire for sensual