The project which has now come to fruition, first started as the germ of an idea way back at the beginning of May this year. Reckitt Benckiser-owned brand Vanish was keen to really raise awareness and participation in Breast Cancer Campaign’s wear it pink day and decided the best way to achieve that was to think big.
Max Wibaux on the Vanish Team contacted Chillisauce with the idea in mind of creating the world’s biggest (and pinkest!) bra in hope that they could help. From the outset Adrian Simpson and William Bicknell at Chillisauce shared the courage of the Vanish team’s convictions, liking nothing better than a challenge and working alongside Vanish to tread uncertain territory in the pursuit of a good cause. This is what made the whole project something to revel in.
There are no precedents to follow on a project such as this, making the world’s largest bra would be virgin territory for anyone and no-one could profess to be an expert in underwear big or small, but after speaking to tent makers, balloon makers, industrial fabric experts and bra manufacturers there was a clear and outstanding candidate to take care of the manufacture of the bra itself; MPutt Sailmakers. They are a family firm and the only remaining sail maker left in London, and having been won over by the enthusiasm and professionalism of the father and son team of Mike and Ian, Adrian knew they were the people to do the job, After all, if they make marquees for the Queen then a giant bra should be no problem.
The next issue was exactly how to mount this giant bra on the side of a building. Something as big as this is essentially going to act as giant sail, so how it is attached and mounted is absolutely crucial to avoid any mishaps. After discussions with Reckitt Benckiser, ITV kindly offered the use of their South Bank London Studios as the backdrop for this event. Together with Nick Whiteley, a precision engineer with whom MPutt Sailmakers collaborate on many of his projects, and bra designs generously provided by the lingerie department at Debenhams, the designs came together. Nick was not only to become responsible for the construction of the frame but also engineered all the metalwork for the bra itself.
Whilst the frame construction was being calculated, it was down to Guinness World Records to establish exactly what was required on our behalf to manufacture a bra capable of attaining a Guinness World Record.
In order for the giant bra to have structural integrity it couldn’t be made of conventional bra nylon and we also couldn’t use just any old design. Ian Putt was very clear which design he needed to use and that was one where the shape of the cup is dictated by panels of material being stitched together rather than shaped foam cups. GWR agreed we could use the nylon that a spinnaker sail is made from and also allowed us to copy a cotton bra in this nylon. All we had to bear in mind was that in every other way shape and form this had to be an exact scale copy of a commercially available bra, which Debenhams provided.
Then followed the first of many site visits as the team from Avalon Abseiling determined precisely how they were going to rig the bra on to the side of the building. These guys spend their lives suspended by ropes from buildings all over the world and have worked on many weird and wonderful projects but nothing like rigging a giant bra.
As the project developed so did the potential stumbling blocks; in order to support a bra this size the frame that was needed was going to weigh over half a ton. This weight issue sent the plans for rigging into disarray as it meant that conventional lifting methods could not be used as specialised hoists would then be needed on the roof of the building. There was a total reworking of the lifting system and scaffolding platforms designed for hoisting the frame and bra. Once this was confirmed and all at ITV were happy with our plans all we had to do was hope that Lambeth Council would give the go-ahead for the temporary planning permission. Luckily with a few weeks to go Lambeth very kindly agreed that our bra together with its banner would not be an issue and we could proceed without any further hitches.
The final issue to cover before the bra was mounted to make sure it was awarded its Guinness World Record certificate. Ian, having very diligently put together the bra in his workshop, added the final pieces of the metalwork to the bra and then one sunny Friday in October drove it to a nearby school for the official GWR adjudication. Everyone helped out nervously with the measuring and without too much of a wait Anna Orford, the adjudicator declared that with a bust measurement of 29.6m and an under bust measurement of 26.72m, we had achieved the new Guinness World Record for the World’s Largest Bra. It was with some pride that Ian Putt was told that it was one of the best reproduction projects that the adjudicator had ever seen.
The project required constant support and understanding from the team at Vanish and regular catch up meetings with all concerned parties including, PR teams, social media agencies, digital marketing experts and Breast Cancer Campaign staff. Without everyone’s input such a project cannot come to life, but the vision to raise the profine of wear it pink day and of Breast Cancer Campaign was shared by all involved.
The riggers have drilled their eyebolts, the position of the scaffolding has been decided and is in place, the banners and bra and covering veil are set up, now all that awaits is the big reveal on ITV’s This Morning show on Friday 28th October.
All that is left to hope for is that people join in wear it pink day and donate as much as they can to help find a cure for breast cancer.