How Madonna’s Cone Bra Broke Gender Norms Before it Was a Trend

julie franklin

Madonna, who now is turning 61 today, was only in her early 30’s when she debuted her legendary cone bra on her Blonde Ambition Tour in 1990. This crazy costume choice came after releasing her 4th album, “Like a Prayer”. This album was intentionally controversial and included many references to Catholicism that some might have been deemed offensive to some. Madonna has always believed and even said once in an interview, ” Art should be controversial, and that’s all there is to it.” The cone bra was just that. Up until this performance, underwear was considered to be profound stage wear and was pretty much unheard of. The perfect follow up to her shocking album.

The pink satin cone bra was designed by Paul Gaultier and strategically appeared behind slits in a black jean suit. When she emerged on stage, shirtless male back up dancers and heavy fog helped paint this revolutionary scene. Madonna was lifted over the stage with an open-faced elevator, and asked the crowd “Do you believe in love? Well I’ve got something to say about it.” Truly iconic. The outfit inspired by the bullet bras of the 40’s and 50’s, conveyed old fashion femininity, but on Madonna’s muscular body asserted power and sovereignty. Many reporters said Madonna’s performance with the cone bra represented a new found sexual freedom for women. Since the iconic performance, many entertainers today wear obscene customs on stage and to award shows, and thanks to Madonna it isn’t seen as strange or provocative anymore.