Charnos is a brand we hear little about in North America. It's from the UK and best known for bridal lingerie, but it does a couple of really nice basics, including the Cherub Full Cup (which comes in black, ivory, white and an occasional, additional colourway):
I really like the way the strap attaches to the upper cup, providing that modified sweetheart neckline. Of course, strap attachment at the upper cup isn't known for providing optimal lift, but it takes all kinds of bras.
The undies that used to match (which I own already, because I've owned this bra on a variety of occasions over the years) are actually super sexy but it doesn't appear that they make them any longer. The "now" version of the matching undies is also nice, but doesn't have the same lace-appeal.
Here's the thing about this bra: It's really reasonably priced and really easy to find. If you want it in all the colours and sizes, Figleaves always stocks it. If you want to dig around for a deal, there are many to be had on eBay. I got this for 35.00 CDN - including shipping. Furthermore, while the brand tops out at a G, the cup fit is generous and the band is very snug. It means that lots of women who wear a GG or H can still fit into it.
The cut is unusual for a UK brand. It's full-cup, for starters (not something you find outrageously frequently in broader-import UK market), and it's very "sophisticated". This is the lacy kind of bra one imagines a French woman would wear.
The shape is quite natural. It's not boobs on a plate, by a long-shot (see above about strap attachment). The support is actually very good but it doesn't provide excessive lift and "presentation" of the breasts. It's about coverage - though that coverage is by no means excessive.
The lace has a lot of give, though I wouldn't call it stretch. This makes it quite forgiving for breasts of different sizes and for full on bottom breasts. There's an elastic band that runs on the top cup, from wire to wire. It gives a bit of extra support - but wouldn't, I imagine, restrict full-on-top breasts unless they were exceedingly so.
The style is good for projected, narrow shapes - but not to the extent that Cleo or Empreinte manage to be. And, as mentioned above, it's always recommended to go up a band size - as these bands are super-snug - and down a cup size. BTW: I generally agree with that advice. The stretch-factor of the lace provides a bit of give you wouldn't get in your average Cleo, for example, given the relentless sturdiness of Cleo fabrics.
The wires aren't as strong as I prefer and the straps are narrow, but somehow the bra still stays in place and does its job. It provides excellent cleavage, if that's your thing, especially given that it's neither a plunge nor a push up. I believe this is because of the inherent softness of the fabric and overall construction.
I do find that this bra doesn't quite tack at the centre gore (on me), in the right size, because the materials and wires just don't hold, at the gore, the way all other brands (that I wear) do. This is in contrast, say, to the only other bra in my wardrobe, the gore of which doesn't quite tack: the Bravissimo Alana. That gore won't tack on me because the bra's just not immediately-projected enough at the centre-cup. If I push the gore of the Cherub lightly, it touches my sternum with no ill effects, fit-wise, elsewhere. But left to its own devices, it's just not structured enough to battle my natural nemesis - immediate, extreme centre projection.
Mind you, that makes it quite comfortable and less extreme than most bras I wear. It's subtle.
I think the issue here is that the bra was designed a long while ago, when another kind of shape and level of sturdiness was in vogue. Not to mention, that it isn't an expensive bra (though it doesn't feel cheap in any way). I mean, you don't get French engineering on a budget.
I totally recommend this Charnos style as a low-risk adventure purchase. I don't wear it continuously, but I've owned it in 2 colours, 3 times, over the last 8 years. When I re-housed one recently, now not my size, I remembered my fondness for the style. Repurchase was given an additional recent push as I'm in a serious black bra crisis - don't ask, subject of another post - so I had to re-add it. :-)
So that's the Cherub for you. Have you tried this bra? Do you like it? What do you know about the brand? You know I'm interested. Let's talk!