BootLeg Betty

Urban Legends and Folklore: The story of Otto Titzling and the invention of the brassiere

Mister D: I found this on About.com by David Emery. I thought it would be fun to learn the history of “over the shoulder boulder holders”. Plus it has to do with our own Divine Miss M, of course!

From: www.chud.com

The story of Otto Titzling and the invention of the brassiere

“The inventor of the modern foundation garment that we women wear today was a German scientist and opera lover by the name of Otto Titsling! This is a true story…”

— “Otto Titsling,” lyrics by Bette Midler

Commemorated in popular song, trivia, and cautionary tale, the tortuous history of Otto Titzling (a.k.a. Titsling, Titslinger, Titzlinger) and the invention of the modern brassiere has a lesson to teach us all — though not necessarily the one you might expect.

As the story goes, Titzling, a German immigrant living in New York City circa 1912, was employed at a factory making women’s undergarments when he met an aspiring opera singer named Swanhilda Olafsen.

Miss Olafsen, a buxom woman by all accounts, complained to Titzling that the standard corsets in use at the time were not only uncomfortable to wear but failed to provide adequate support where it counted most.

Titzling rose to the challenge. With the help of his trusty assistant, Hans Delving, he set about inventing a new kind of undergarment specifically engineered to meet the needs of the modern woman. The “chest halter” he designed proved to be a brilliant innovation and a commercial success, but our hero neglected to take out a patent, an oversight that would haunt him for the rest of his days.

Philippe de Brassiere

Enter the flamboyant, French-born fashion designer Philippe de Brassiere, who began ripping off Otto Titzling’s designs and manufacturing competing products in the early 1930s. Titzling sued de Brassiere for patent infringement. In a court battle lasting four years, the two men fought to prove ownership of the concept, facing off in a climactic courtroom “fashion show” in which live models paraded before the judge wearing prototypes by each designer. In the end Titzling lost the case, not only in the court of law but in the court of public opinion, where de Brassiere, with his knack for self-promotion, managed to cement in the public’s mind a lasting connection between the product and his own name.

In the words of songstress Bette Midler, “The result of this swindle is pointedly clear — do you buy a titsling or do you buy a brassiere?”

Titzling, we’re told, died penniless and unappreciated — but nothing could be further from the truth.

Part 2: The truth about Otto Titzling

The truth about Otto Titzling is that he never existed in the first place. Nor did Hans Delving, nor Philippe de Brassiere. They are all fictitious characters invented by Canadian author Wallace Reyburn for his wholly satirical “history” of the brassiere published in 1972, Bust-Up: The Uplifting Tale of Otto Titzling and the Development of the Bra. Reyburn based the names on crude, if memorable, puns — Otto Titzling (“tit-sling”), Hans Delving (“hands delving”), Philippe de Brassiere (“fill up the brassiere”).

According to etymologists, the noun brassiere derives not from anyone’s surname, but from the Old French braciere, meaning, literally, “arm-guard.” The first recorded use of brassiere in its modern sense occurred in 1909, some 20 years before Philip de Brassiere’s apocryphal foray into the undergarment business.

The true origin of the brassiere

Through much of recorded history, women have worn special garments to cover, support, or enhance their breasts — most notably the corset, which was popular from the Renaissance onward but began to lose favor around the turn of the last century as women came to find it overly restrictive.

It was then that alternatives began to emerge such as Marie Tucek’s “breast supporter,” patented in 1893, which consisted of a separate pocket for each breast held in place by flexible shoulder straps.

The first product actually patented under the name brassiere was invented in 1913 by

    Mary Phelps Jacob

, a New York socialite. She hit upon the idea after trying on a brand-new sheer gown over her old whalebone corset, the result of which she found appalling. Using two silk handkerchiefs and pink ribbon, she improvised the forerunner of what would eventually be marketed as the “Backless Brassiere.”

After a few years, Jacob (a.k.a. “Caresse Crosby”) sold the patent to the Warner Brothers Corset Company, which, under a variety of brand names known collectively as the Warnaco Group, is still a leading manufacturer of brassieres (and many other kinds of garment) to this day.

Here is the link for the video made by TheDivineMissM (no not that one)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqxWhBZXF8Q

BETTE MIDLER LYRICS

“Otto Titsling”

“This next story is a true story.
It concerns two of my favorite subjects:
industrial theft . . . and-a t-ts!
Mmm, what a combo! This is the story . . .
The inventor of the modern foundation garment
that we women wear today was a German scientist
and opera lover by the name of Otto Titsling!
This is a true story.
His name was Otto Titsling.
What happened to Otto Titsling shouldn’t happen to a schnauzer.
It’s a very sad story. I feel I have to share it with you.”

Otto Titsling, inventor and kraut,
had nothing to get very worked up about.
His inventions were failures, his future seemed bleak.
He fled to the opera at least twice a week.

One night at the opera he saw an Aida
who’s t-ts were so big they would often impede her.
Bug-eyed he watched her fall into the pit,
done in by the weight of those terrible t-ts.

Oh, my god! There she blows!
Aerodynamically this bitch was a mess.
Otto eyeballed the diva lying comatose amongst the reeds,
and he suddenly felt the fire of inspiration
flood his soul. He knew what he had to do!
He ran back to his workshop
where he futzed and futzed and futzed.

For Otto Titsling had found his quest:
to lift and mold the female breast;
to point the small ones to the sky;
to keep the big ones high and dry!

Every night he’d sweat and snort
searching for the right support.
He tried some string and paper clips.
Hey! He even tried his own two lips!

Well, he stitched and he slaved
and he slaved and he stitched
until finally one night, in the wee hours of morning,
Otto arose from his workbench triumphant.
Yes! He had invented the worlds first
over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder. Hooray!

Exhausted but ecstatic he ran
down the street to the diva’s house
bearing the prototype in his hot little hand.
Now, the diva did not want to try the darn thing on.
But, after many initial misgivings,
she finally did.
And the sigh of relief that issued forth
from the diva’s mouth
was so loud that it was mistaken by some
to be the early onset of the Siroccan Winds
which would often roll through the Schwarzwald
with a vengeance!
Ahhhhh-i!

But little did Otto know,
at the moment of his greatest triumph,
lurking under the diva’s bed
was none other than the very worst
of the French patent thieves,
Philippe DeBrassiere.
And Phil was watching the scene
with a great deal of interest!

Later that night, while our Brun Hilda slept,
into the wardrobe Philippe softly crept.
He fumbled through knickers and corsets galore,
’til he found Otto’s titsling and he ran out the door.

Crying, “Oh, my god! What joy! What bliss!
I’m gonna make me a million from this!
Every woman in the world will wanna buy one.
I can have all the goods manufactured in Taiwan.”

“Oh, thank you!”

The result of this swindle is pointedly clear:
Do you buy a titsling or do you buy a brassiere?

“Ohhh! Thank you!”

[ www.azlyrics.com ]

For more Bette Midler lyrics: www.bettelyrics.com

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