Online dating dilemmas with dinner
Originally a bespoke lingerie business, Rigby & Peller was founded in 1939 by Gita Peller, a Jewish refugee and corsetier who fled Hungary in the early Thirties, and Bertha Rigby, who gave Peller a home when she finally arrived in Britain in 1936.
Business boomed, and in 1954 Peller's cousin Mrs Seiden, took over the company and six years later was granted the Royal Warrant.
Like the time a regular customer bought identical basques for his wife and girlfriend.
'His wife was very small, and his girlfriend rather large and, by mistake, we sent the wrong basque to the wrong lady. The wife went mad - she wasn't an "H" and she knew that he knew she wasn't, so it was quite a disaster.' Thankfully it's all quite calm and serene now, but Christmas and Valentine's is a madhouse, with hundreds of rather nervous-looking men buying sexy underwear their wives will probably swap for something more practical.
Some of the early pieces are kept in suitcases in the company's Mayfair office, wrapped like priceless treasures in silk and tissue paper. One, a floppy tangle of cotton and stitching from the Twenties (thought to have been brought over from Hungary by Peller), looks less like a bra and more a paper doilie from a cake stand. But one lady might be all around the front, or very full, or maybe only a 30 in the back, so we have to look at what's going on in front of our eyes.' Crikey, isn't eyeing up the Queen's cleavage a nerve-racking business? And now it's a real pleasure - because you get to know someone over the years, so we're hardly strangers.' It isn't just the Queen who gets the benefit of her experienced eye.
' 'It's a very rigorous training,' explains Beatriz, as I strip to the waist and she looks very hard at my 34Bs.June and her husband Harold ('such a wonderful man') bought the company in 1982 and added to the made-to-measure section with ready-to-wear bras. Bras have come a long way since New York debutante Mary Phelps Jacob devised the first modern bra in 1913 with two handkerchiefs and some help from her maid, and later sold the patent to a Mr Warner she met at a garden party.Soon, rather like a new prime minister, June was summoned to the Palace to receive the Queen's approval and her mandate to fit the royal bosom. Kenton is famously tight-lipped about her relationship with the royal decolletage - they've been on intimate terms for 27 years and, just in case anyone should forget, Her Majesty smiles down sternly from a large picture above the till. Rolls-Royce would not tell you what the Royal Family bought from them, so I certainly won't, but the royal warrant's in my name, so I'll leave it to your imagination.' But wasn't she a bit nervous when she first went to the palace armed only with a pin cushion, a length of lace and a tape measure? The Twenties saw the introduction of adjustable straps and divisions between the breasts, while the Thirties heralded mass-produced bras with different cup sizes.A few men, however, shop not for wives or girlfriends but for themselves: Rigby & Peller is a favourite with upmarket transvestites. Once gravity has called, you've got two options - a good bra, or surgery and, trust me, a good bra is a lot cheaper.'We have to see them when it's nice and quiet and doesn't upset the other ladies. And don't forget, gravity will continue to call as long as they're unsupported.' What, even teeny ones? Even a teeny fried egg will turn into a sausage if you're not careful!
The Forties sneaked in a bit of padding, and during World War II, Berlei supplied the 'Undalift' bra to the Woman's Royal Naval Service.