Monday, August 10, 2015

Bra Review: Prima Donna Divine

I'm sure you can barely wait to hear about Black Bra Success take 2, so I'll cut to the chase.

The second bra I recently bought during my visit with Veronica is a SERIOUS outlier. Really. Y'all know I've never said a nice thing about Prima Donna. I mean, I'm not dissing the quality or questioning that the styles work for many. But every single Prima Donna I've ever tried has had a delightful combo of a) wussy wires, b) wires that are too wide and c) really centre-shallow cups. Like the gores do not tack under any circumstances cuz the shape is too wide, too shallow and effectively weak.

What a great way to start a post wherein I discuss my new Prima Donna bra!

OK, to preface the photo, allow me to say that I was not interested in trying on another PD (Veronica generally doesn't even bother with this brand for me) but I was DESPERATE. And desperate times call for, well, you know. Aren't I glad I expended a bit of effort I was almost certain would be wasted because this bra fits really well:

Prima Donna Divine
But never mind that I bought a bra by a brand I don't like. It's also molded and seamless - my other hate-ons. I suppose the only thing they could have done to make this less appealing to me is to have padded it!

V said: It's not like the other Prima Donnas. It's got a pretty narrow gore. It's quite deep. It's really firm. When I picked it up, to put it on, I wiggled the wires and they felt wussy. I was not on board. But then I tried the bra and I was amazed by the synergy of the crazily firm lace fabric, the snug band and the depth. And then I tried a cup size up (because, as I've said 8 zillion times - molded bras, those with no seams, are by nature more shallow than their counterparts with seams) and the fit was spot on.

I have only two points of unseamed / molded reference for the fit of this bra: Fantasie 4520 (about which I've written numerous times - it's my beige staple) and the Empreinte Melody (which I really tried to like but no dice). It's almost impossible to create an unpadded, unlined, seam-free shape that isn't a veritable pancake. It's even harder to do it with lace. And, to their credit, both PD and Empreinte have figured that engineering out.

But first lets talk about the detractors - as I see them - of the molded cup bra:
  • I will never like the look (or fit, I suspect) of an unseamed, molded bra as much as one with seams. I love the curvature that seams produce. I much prefer the shape. I don't think boobs should look like spherical fruit. And yet I get it: there are times when a seam-free bra is really useful. Note: If you can't find one that fits - by which I mean your breast shape must conform to it, not the other way around - then I firmly advise you to give it a miss. But if you discover one that works, why not expand the catalog?
  • I find them universally matronly by comparison with the seamed bras. Yeah, I'm sure this perspective is partially driven by my age and stage, but whatevs. I see a Victoria's Secret special and think ugh. The beauty of bras is in the shape distinctness provided by a myriad of fabric choices and seam placements. From this vantage point, I'm a tailor to my core.
  • More to the point, the beauty of breasts is in the distinctness of the breasts. Once you compel breasts to fit the one-size/one-shape mold of a seam-free bra, what's the point?? Are we all the same? 
  • Molded bras feel weird. It's like they have a life of their own - even if they're in that rare non-lined / non-padded minority. This gets back to that notion that the expectation is that breast must conform to it.
  • They're almost universally on the shallow end of the spectrum, which is pretty well a non-starter if you need depth at the centre cup.
How does the PD Divine get around these issues?
  • The Look: It's kind of pretty with that wacky lace motif. If you're going to make a molded bra - then damn well make it in lace. I can only imagine the technology that goes into molding the fabric (a chemical and heat process) without completely destroying it. Note: The lace of the Divine is much firmer (dare I say, less delicate, starchier-feeling) than that of its counterpart, the Empreinte Melody (which I find ugly, alas, and which is shallower for size than the Divine).
  • The Vibe: I don't know that it overcomes the matronly factor. I still feel it - but the fit is very good (which never hurts the look of a bra). FWIW, my husband finds it rather sexy - though he does like the weirdest lingerie.
  • The Fit Conundrum: The Divine cannot overcome the true downfall of the molded-cup bra: Your boobs are going to have to fit the shape perfectly, or the bra isn't going to fit. There's no nuance. And how many peeps have seriously round, evenly full, plump on top breasts? Well, in this bra, I do - apparently :-)
  • The Feel: The seam-free lace has been molded into oblivion. It feels weird. I'm getting over it.
  • The Depth: Now - this is the PURE GENIUS of the Divine - and the reason I am pleased, as a tailor, to have purchased it. The PD peeps have recognized that you cannot get narrow depth with a molded bra unless you come up with a work around. So they did something I've NEVER seen in any bra before. They added darts! Yeah, this bra is shallowly-darted on each cup in 2 places - at the under cup (about a 0.5 inch dart that's an inch long) and at the centre gore (same as the first dart). It's done expertly, so you cannot see either. The average client would never notice them, I'm sure. I mean, they do add an extra complexity to the feel of the bra against the skin. But like I said, molded fabric is weird. Note: It's not uncomfortable and it's totally invisible under clothing.
What do those darts do? Well, they act like freakin' SEAMS people. The reason this seam-free bra works is cuz it's got seamed shaping with none of the visibility of seams. I think that level of creativity almost justifies the $180 bucks (once tax is included) price tag.

Let me take a moment to delve a bit further into the cost proposition: As with Empreinte, it's pretty difficult to find inexpensive online versions of Prima Donna bras. It's not impossible, but it's rare. The reason I went to a boutique - and enlisted the services of a fitter in whom I have the utmost confidence and for whom I have total respect - is because I required her skills. She knows the brand. She's seen the style on numerous bodies. She can facilitate my trying it on in 2 cup sizes and 2 back sizes. That's value. And it's for that value that I'm paying. Yeah, if I opt to buy this bra again, will I at least try to seek it out online? Probably. But I want to ensure that fitters like Veronica continue to practice their very valuable - and undervalued - craft. You can't have it all ways. 

The shape of the Divine - for those of you who know the Empreinte Melody - is much deeper and a bit narrower. The straps are slender (unlike the comfort-wide monstrosities on the Melody). The Divine has a narrow band and 2 hooks and eyes (the Melody has 3). They're both comfortable. The Divine is more youthful and sexy. It comes in a bunch of colours, fyi, not that I'm likely to buy it in another shade. I have come to appreciate this bra increasingly with each wear - and it totally fits the black bra bill - but I'm never going to gravitate to its style. When I go colourful, I'm having my seams.


  1. That looks strikingly similar to the Empreinte Melody.

    1. Laura: Stay tuned for my next post. This comment really struck a chord!

  2. I'm glad you had another black bra success! I love the Prima Donna brand, though I only have three Madison Plunges, the molded, seamless Satin Plunge, and a tankini from them. I would never have guessed the Divine was narrow and deep from product photos. I can't understand how those darts are invisible, though. Are they covered in lace? And do you maybe want to show the shape you get in the bra, wearing a clingy T-shirt over it? I myself like the semi-hemispherical look, though I generally wear slightly more projected, "pointy" profile Polish bras.

    1. Those darts are crazy. I don't know how they manage to be so invisible when looking at the bra unclothed, but I've scrutinized them and I believe it's because of the marled quality of the lace and the colour. (I don't know how this would look in one of the paler colours - I didn't think to check.) There's no risk of it showing under clothing because the darts are very short - and not overly deep. They're well positioned at the side of the gore (but not where you'd see them under a shirt - more in the grove between the gore and the apex) and at the base of the gore (where it moves into the cup). They're not covered in lace - they're cut out of the single lace layer. My next post will have pics and I defy you to notice them :-)

      I'll consider doing a shot of myself in a tshirt...