Launch of a new bra

The designers of the Millennium Bridge in London are working on the latest in brassiere technology.

By Jack Boulware
Published August 28, 2000 7:30PM (EDT)

Two days after its official opening this summer London's Millennium Bridge was closed down because of excessive wobbling. The much-hyped $48 million project, a 1,056-foot pedestrian bridge spanning the Thames River, was built in association with architect Lord Foster and sculptor Sir Anthony Caro, yet it remains unusable and stands as a colossal disaster. Such negative news means little to Ove Arup, the firm responsible for the bridge's engineering. The company is already collaborating on a much more exciting engineering project -- a new underwire bra.

Due to formally launch in a few months, the Bioform bra forgos the traditional underwire structure in favor of plastic cups. For this new revolution in breast support, Charnos, the bra's manufacturer, has Ove Arup to thank. "Because of the new technology going into this project, we really had to go back to the start," a spokesman told the Sunday Telegraph. "Analysis of stress and how breasts change was fundamental."

Ove Arup created a computer model to test variations in stress and stretch of a normal bra. The main area of stress, the designers concluded, was around the chest band. A decision was then made to replace the underwire in the band with a specially molded plastic cup -- to "spread the load," in their words.

Ove Arup then encouraged the designers to develop "a more complex three-dimensional shape with rounded edges" to provide "properly engineered support." The result was a magnificent piece of engineering to hold mammary glands.

When asked how a firm could successfully design a support system for breasts but not a bridge, the Charnos spokesman insisted that Ove Arup "brought a number of important elements to the table which were crucial," while admitting there was "a rather poetic relationship" between Bioform and the Millennium Bridge.

The elements crucial to the reopening of the Millennium Bridge include retrofitting the giant shock absorbers, scheduled to begin next month. The Bioform bra, in contrast, has so far shown no signs of undue wobbling.

Jack Boulware

Jack Boulware is a writer in San Francisco and author of "San Francisco Bizarro" and "Sex American Style."

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