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Smoking: 1949

Chicago, 1949. "Woman standing in office, smoking while modeling undergarments." An early image from budding photojournalist and nascent filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. Look Magazine Photo Collection. View full size.

Chicago, 1949. "Woman standing in office, smoking while modeling undergarments." An early image from budding photojournalist and nascent filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. Look Magazine Photo Collection. View full size.


On Shorpy:
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At the Bonjour Tristesse Brassière Company

I'M GOING BACK, from Bells Are Ringing

I know you, your name is Sue
But who am I?
I've gotta find out
At least I'm gonna try

I'm going back
Where I can be me
At the Bonjour Tristesse Brassière Company

They've got a great big switchboard there
Where it's just hello, goodbye
It may be dull
But there I can be just me, myself and I

A little modeling on the side
Yes, that's where I'll be
At the Bonjour Tristesse Brassière Company

And if anybody asks for Ella, Mella or Mom
Tell them that I'm goin' back where I came from
To the B.T. Bras-se-ière Company

Goodbye everybody
Goodbye Madame Grimaldi
Goodbye Junior Mallett
Santa Claus is a-hittin' the road

Listen to your mama, mama, mama

Eat your spinach baby
Eat your spinach baby
By the load

La petite bergère restaurant adieu
Je ne reviendrai jamais, jamais, jamais
C'est tout fini
Adieu to you

So, goodbye Max, to your dogs and your cats
To the Duke of Windsor and His Duchess

Bye bye Barton and Kitchell and Hastings
At last you're out of my clutches

I'll miss you but you'll carry on
You'll never know that I've gone

I'm a-going back
Where I can be me
At the Bonjour Tristesse Brassière Company

And while I'm sitting there I'll hope that I find out
Just what Ella Peterson is all about
In that Shangri-La of lacy lingerie

A little modeling on the side

At the Bonjour Tristesse Brassière Company

Send me my mail dere!

To the Bonjour Tristesse Company
Judy Holliday on the Ed Sullivan Show, singing "I'm Going Back"

Yes, really.

She's not blowing smoke. The point I was making was that it's a bad "retouching" job of someone blowing smoke. I guess the woman in the photo isn't the only one getting their panties in a bunch.

[This photo is not "retouched." - Dave]


I was trying to think who the model looks like. After a LOT of Googling and wracking my brains it came to me. Elsa Lanchester ("Mary Poppins", "Bride of Frankenstein", "The Spiral Staircase").

The least of it...

"Now we're criticizing the way people blow out their smoke"

Beats calling a woman with perhaps a 24-inch waist "far too heavy."

I mean, really?

Now we're criticizing the way people blow out their smoke?

Those Aren't Cat's-Eye Glasses

THESE are cat's-eye glasses on my great-grandmother with me at Golden Gate Park in 1959:

Listen Madge

when in heaven's name are they going to fix the air conditioning in here?

What kind of film was used here?

Kubrick famously used a Leica III in his early photojournalism, but the aspect ratio here does not look like it came from 35mm film. Team Shorpy, enlighten us?

[35mm Super XX. - Dave]

Industrial strength underwear.

I think they are showing her smoking just to prove she can breathe wearing that stuff.

That is a pretty bad job of blowing smoke. First of all, her mouth isn't open, and the blast coming out is like a cartoon steam blast out of a train. This neatly forms into a cumulus cloud floating right in the middle of wall between the two windows.

Lastly, I think Kubrick is casting for his next two reel girly film involving some spanking and wrestling. It won't be long till Miss Manners takes off those glasses and lets down her hair, to teach that broad a lesson.

This shot could be

A still from a lost scene from "Dr. Strangelove".

Too heavy?!

Are you kidding me? How skewed is your beauty ideal if you think this gal is fat?

Welcome to the world before Kate Moss ruined the party for everyone.

My first reaction

When I opened up shorpy this morning, I got quite the eye opener. I then thought about the safety hazard, and put on some shop goggles.

I was not surprised to find out Kubrick took this photo. How funny.

Corsets, Girdles, Bras and Such

My late sister worked in the main office of the Lily of France Corset Co. back in the mid-1940s, and her descriptions of the workplace environment there used to set my prurient teenage mind afire. Their catalog models were far more attractive than the one in Kubrick's photo here, though, or at least they were in my mind, anyway.

Borscht Belt Memories

When I was a 14 year old musician working in the Catskills, the strippers and belly dancers loved to parade in front of us like this. The highlight of the summer was when one of those "tough broads" would say "Fix my bra for me, Big Guy." Truly, a dream come true for a geeky clarinet player from Brooklyn. Thanks for the memories.

Too heavy.

Hate to break her heart but she DOESN'T look good wearing that. She is far too heavy for it.

And they say corsets were uncomfortable

I can't imagine wearing "undergarments" like that. The bra doesn't fit her right and the panty-girdle thing looks miserably uncomfortable. If I had to choose one item from this photo, I'd wear the cat-eye glasses of the gal in back.

Far side lady

The woman at the desk looks like she is straight from a Far Side cartoon. Plus her catty look is priceless. Put a saucer of milk on her desk.

It ain't fittin' -- it just ain't fittin'

That bra is all wrong. I kept looking at it and it looks upside down! Does anyone else think so?


As if anyone needed to be told, ladies undergarments of this era were no more comfortable than the generations before. Add a crinoline and looking sexy for any woman was a hot, itchy, suffocating, uncomfortable affair... and that was BEFORE you removed your undergarments.

Looks like comic glasses

with a fake nose attached on the woman sitting at the desk.

Get Lucky!

I feel pretty sure that she's smoking a Lucky Strike. You remember the old ads: "So Round, So Firm, So Fully Packed".

If I didn't know better

I'd say that was Lucy and Desi - IN DRAG!

My little chickadee

Reminds me of W.C. Fields's comment about Mae West -- "A plumber's idea of Cleopatra."


Nah. Fellini.

Do You See Too?

I think I see where she keeps her smokes and lighter.


Re the bra's fit: In these pre-elastic days (I believe stretchy bras and girdles didn't arrive until the mid-'50s), a strapless bra might well be intentionally tight-fitting to keep it from riding up or sliding away down the rib cage.

Not that it probably helped -- even with today's advanced underwear technology, the silly things never do stay put.

"You said you wanted to introduce me to your staff"

Any time you're ready, bub.


I'm impressed by the perfectly framed puff of smoke. However, I think my wife would comment that the bra does not fit that woman properly. I ain't complainin', though.


I don't even know where to begin.

Lady at Desk

"I picked a bad time to stop smokin'."

Hubba Hubba Hubba

Hack! Hack!

Caption Suggestions

"You're never fully dressed without a smile."

"Can I get a martini here please?"

"The airline lost my luggage."

"I don't believe in spending a lot on clothes."

"Let's give 'em something to talk about."

"I dreamed I went to work in my Maidenform bra."

"Hey Buster, my eyes are up here."

"We're an Equal Opportunity Employer."

Cigarette Ad: "It's whats up front that counts."

"Yeah, I got my resume', right here!"

(Dave, I bet this picture gets the most comments you've ever had. Outstanding photo.)


Bullet bra. CT scan. Kubrick was an animal.

Was it Casual Friday?

I've been known to oversleep and get to work late without being fully dressed i.e. Dagwood Bumstead but this takes the cake. I had a female relative who worked for a manufacturer of "foundation garments" in the early 1950s who was promoted from being a secretary to being a model much like this and then was promoted again to being the CEO's wife.

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