A frequent blog reader turned me on to the incredible lingerie designs of Ralph Montenero.
I’ve not yet held a piece, but I have it on very good authority (for this frequent blog reader is a vintage lingerie collector who knows his stuff) that Montenero pieces are exquisitely made, with the luxurious nylon feel that rivals some of the best in vintage lingerie. And that information only makes me swoon more when I look at all these lovely nightgowns, peignoirs, and teddies…
I particularly love the attention to details in terms of fit — just look at how the bodice is sculpted around the sides, but elegantly exposes the back while creating a cascade from bum…
As I wasn’t familiar with this lingerie designer, I dug into research vaults to find out more.
Ralph J. Montenero graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan — but his professional design career began while he was still at the fashion institute. According to an article, Sack Parades In 7th Inf., (on Ralph Montenero continuing his designs while serving as an Army PFC stationed in Korea, published in Pacific Stars and Stripes, July 29, 1958), there’s this glorious bit of information:
While attending the Institute, Montenero was offered a job with Schiaparelli Lingerie on a two week trial basis. His work was so well received that he remained at Schiaparelli for three years. At the the time of his induction into the service, he had advanced to the position of chief designer for the company’s entire line of lingerie.. . .
Among the women who have worn his creations are Anita Ekberg and Elsa Martinelli of screen fame, and television’s Roxanne, who appeared in “The New Yorker” magazine wearing one of Montenero’s creations.
The article doesn’t give any years… But by 1954, Schiaparelli’s business had ceased. While several other old newspaper articles mention the designer, usually Montenero’s name appears on labels as “Ralph Montenero for Blanche” right up through the 1980s.
Here are some photos of Ralph Montenero for Blanche Lingerie nightgowns from Ohio’s Chronicle Telegram, July 12, 1975.
I’ll post more as I discover it. If you have anything to add, please do share!
Image credits: Vintage Candlelight Blanche by Ralph Montenero Long Gown Nightgown, via Pleasure Queen; Vintage Brown Nylon & Lace Teddy, via Fabulous Lingerie & Fabrics; Vintage Ruby Red Nylon & Lace Nightgown, via missaltoe; Vintage Blanche by Ralph Montenero Navy Blue Peignoir Set, via MadMakCloset; Black 80s Vintage Nylon Lace Ralph Montenero Negligee, via jdbok; Vintage Rare Ralph Montenero Blanche Off White Nightgown Slip With Floral Lace Bodice, via morrisvintage; Blanche by Ralph Montenero for Neiman Marcus Creamy Nylon Nightgown, via Claude’s Resale Boutique; Vintage Red Ralph Montenero Nightgown Robe (with fringed sash) Set, via morrisvintage.
FYI, in the Pacific Stars and Stripes photo, the “sack” and “double-bubble” dresses are worn by U.S. Army Service Club models Theresa Dowdell and Patricia Hazel, who flank Montenero at Camp Kaiser