Kay Cohen

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Kay Cohen
KayCohen Paris2011.jpg
Cohen in Paris 2011
Born (1952-12-31) 31 December 1952 (age 65)
Levin, New Zealand
Residence Sydney, Australia
Nationality Australian
Education Massey University, Heriot-Watt University
Occupation Fashion designer
Known for Lingerie Design

Silent Assembly, Curvessence, Pleasure State,

Elle Macpherson Intimates

Kay Cohen (born Kathleen Siddall on 31 December 1952 in Levin, New Zealand)[1][2] is an Australian fashion designer and business woman based in Sydney, Australia. Cohen has led a number of lingerie design brands,[2][3] most notably as Founder and Creative Director of Pleasure State[4] and as General Manager and Creative Director of Elle Macpherson's Lingerie label Elle Macpherson Intimates,[5] also Cohen is known as the inventor of the Biofit uplift bra.[6][7]

Early life and education[edit]

In her design studio Wellington, New Zealand

Cohen was raised on a farm and first discovered fashion at the age of 12.[1][2] She attended Wellington Polytechnic (now Massey University) in nearby Wellington,[8] majoring in Clothing and Textile design.[2] After graduation, she qualified and continued as a lecturer at the school,[2][9] instructing fellow Australian Fashion Designer Collette Dinnigan. The first 15 years of Cohen's career were spent designing fashion outerwear.[2] Cohen later qualified with an MBA from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.[10]

Lingerie beginnings[edit]

Cohen transitioned to Lingerie design in 1992 when she joined Triumph International,[1] in Brisbane, Australia. At Triumph she was responsible for creative direction for brands including Triumph, Sloggi,[10] and introduced Valisere to the Australian market.[11] In 1997 Cohen returned to New Zealand and was appointed Group General Manager of Brands for the New Zealand Lingerie group Bendon.[5][12][13] At Bendon, Cohen was known for her creative direction and successful reshaping of Elle Macpherson's Lingerie Label: Elle Macpherson Intimates[14] as well as heading creative for labels Bendon,[1][13][15] Bendon Man, Hey Sister and Expozay swim.[16]

Elle Macpherson Intimates and the Bendon Group[edit]

During her tenure as creative director of Elle Macpherson Intimates,[1][10][17] the label was credited as the top fashion underwear brand in Australian and UK department stores.[18][19] In 1997 Cohen launched Macpherson Men,[13] Elle Macpherson's men's underwear label which rapidly achieved commercial success in the Australian and New Zealand markets.[9][20] The combined success of both Elle Macpherson Intimates and Macpherson Men prompted Bendon to increase the distribution of the Elle Macpherson underwear brands to the United Kingdom.[9][21] In 2001 it was announced that the label would be stocked in Selfridges and House of Fraser in their London Stores.[22]

In 2002, Cohen relaunched Expozay,[23] a swimwear label employing Sophie Monk, an Australian actress/model, as brand ambassador.[23] (Cohen later worked with Monk for the launch of the Biofit Bra). Cohen's Expozay swim launch in Auckland New Zealand also featured Jennifer Hawkins two years before Hawkins won the Miss Universe title.[24]

In 2002 after the Bendon group was acquired by the Pacific Retail Group, Cohen was identified as the most likely successor to the incumbent CEO.[25] Cohen remained in a design capacity as she was headhunted and relocated to Australia in early 2003[9] to head creative direction for the Berlei Group, comprising brands: Berlei,[10] Formfit, Hestia, Playtex and Wonderbra.[9][10] Within 6 months Cohen had become disillusioned by the prospect of putting new blood into old brands.[2] Cohen perceived a niche in Lingerie design: a fusion of fashion, fit and function. By early April 2004 reports of an Australian Fashion Week launch of Cohen's new luxury lingerie brand Pleasure State began to appear.

Pleasure State[edit]

Australian Fashion Week in Sydney, Australia, wearing Pleasure State

Cohen Launched Pleasure State at the Mercedes Australian Fashion Week 2004 in Sydney,[1][10][26][27] with local fashion media voting Pleasure State as one of the top 10 shows of the 2004 Fashion week.[9] Prior to launch the brand had been picked up by Australian department store David Jones[1] and Harrods, Selfridges, Bentalls, Liberty and House of Fraser in the United Kingdom.[10]

Fashion Week Launch Collection[edit]

The initial collection featured vintage French leavers laces[4][10] and silks,[28] complemented by the reintroduction of woven fabrics, opposed to traditional knits. The garments were accented with Swarovski crystal details,[1][29][30] and are credited with originating this trend in lingerie design.[9] The first collection was underpinned by wider bra straps and smooth-line tailoring, which became hallmarks of Pleasure State (now Pleasure State Couture).[31] The fabrics included blends of pure silk with tactel and lycra,[9] intended to enhance the performance of garments for everyday wearability, which are predominantly sourced from France and Italy.

International Growth[edit]

By March 2005 Cohen's label had over 300 stockists globally,[32] including department stores Galeries Lafayette in Paris and Victoria's Secret.[1][33][34] in the United States. By April of that year Cohen's designs were available in 45 Victoria's Secret stores across the US and was one of only 3 international designer Lingerie brands to be stocked alongside Victoria's Secret product.[35][36] In November 2005 Cohen's label was available across Russia in 90 Wild Orchid Stores[37] and opened the retailers fashion show at the Moscow Manege, quickly becoming their best selling brand.[29] Within 2 Years of the brands launch, Cohen's label was available in 25 countries, and had launched its diffusion line Pleasure State White Label,[4][38] renaming the high fashion Pleasure State: Pleasure State Couture. Pleasure State is currently available in 35 Countries [2] and over 1000 stores globally.[39][40]

Concurrently the brand shifted its Australian department store distribution to rival retailer Myer[38] with a national roll out of in store boutiques.[4][41] Cohen's designs were further bolstered by celebrities Jessica Simpson, Ashlee Simpson (appearing in the garments at the 2006 MTV Australia Music Awards), Rihanna and Anna Nicole Smith.[42] By mid-2007 Cohen's label was turning over more than $30 million per annum AUD,[29][43] at this time Cohen announced the launch of the Biofit Bra.

Biofit Uplift Bra[edit]

Cohen's Biofit uplift bra had the biggest Bra launch in Limited Brands history (Victoria's secret parent company).[44][45][46] Cohen's innovation was to engineer a push-up bra customized to each cup size, delivering a graduation of cleavage appropriate to the woman's bust size.[47][48][49] Cohen again worked with Sophie Monk [6][50] for the Australian Biofit launch, Monk appeared in a music video where she performed Push It, which was mastered by her then fiancee Benji Madden.[51] Due to the agreement with Victoria's secret, Biofit was subsequently renamed Myfit in the Australian Market.

Cohen merged Pleasure State with her former company Bendon in May 2010,[52][53] and has relinquished her interest in the company.

Silent Assembly[edit]

Cohen launched her new brand Silent Assembly in Paris at the Mode City Lingerie fair in July 2013.[54][55] Silent Assembly is a luxury lingerie label which features Kay Cohen's new bra technology Curvessence, intended to replace underwires.[56]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Pleasures of the flesh". The New Zealand Herald. 16 June 2004. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Dominy, Katie (2010). Contemporary Lingerie Design. London: Laurence King Publishing. pp. 161, 162, 163, 164, 165. ISBN 978-1-85669-650-0. 
  3. ^ "Kay Cohen, Pleasure State". Australian Business Women's Network Speakers. Australian Business Women's Network. Archived from the original on 3 September 2011. Retrieved 23 May 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d Janice Green Burns (7 July 2006). "Big in Smalls". The Age. Retrieved 24 May 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Jacqueline Lunn (6 May 2004). "Fur crying out loud". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 23 May 2011. 
  6. ^ a b "Biofit Bra at Pleasure State". The Daily Telegraph Galleries. News Limited. Retrieved 24 May 2011. 
  7. ^ "Push Up Bra, Kay Cohen". Google Patent. Google. Retrieved 23 May 2011. 
  8. ^ Life and Style (5 May 2006). "Big undietaking for lingerie designer Kay Cohen". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2 June 2011. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Enting, Carolyn (10 June 2004). "Undercover". The Dominion Post. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h Hamann, Katie (23 April 2004). "NEED TO KNOW". The Australian. 
  11. ^ Alderman, Kellie (5 November 2006). "Celebrity lingerie is pure Pleasure". The Sunday Mail. 
  12. ^ "Kay Cohen, General Manager for the Elle McPherson brand". Management Magazine. 7 September 2002. 
  13. ^ a b c Hill, Deborah (29 August 1997). "BENDON PINS ITS HOPES ON SNUB TO CHEAP STORES AND ELLE FOR MEN". National Business Review. 
  14. ^ Dominique Jackson, Katie Hamann, (30 April 2004). "Trendsetters for a new season". The Australian. 
  15. ^ Business Desk (11 October 2011). "Bendon snaps up Aussie undie brands". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  16. ^ Abstracts, ABIX (31 May 2002). "PRG backs Bendon creativity". Apparel (NZ). 
  17. ^ Jackson, Dominique (27 July 2001). "Fancy Pants". The Australian. 
  18. ^ The Sunday Times Business, 23 March 2008, p. 17: "Macpherson, supermodel-turned-lingerie queen, has made that her leitmotif. Elle Macpherson Intimates range is the biggest selling brand of fashion lingerie in Britain."
  19. ^ "Brightening Britain". Lucire. JY & A Media. Retrieved 24 May 2011. 
  20. ^ "FRONT UP TO G-STRINGS". The Christchurch Press. 7 November 2000. 
  21. ^ Maguire, Tory (17 November 2001). "$4bn bosom buddies". The Daily Telegraph. 
  22. ^ Gilby, Lisa (5 October 2001). "Elle shows the Pom's whats down under". The Courier Mail. 
  23. ^ a b Abstracts, Abix (16 August 2002). "Bendon shows off new Expozay". Rag Trader. 
  24. ^ "Sophie Monk with Expozay Swim models in 2002. Spot the little known model on the left - it's Jennifer Hawkins two years before winning Miss Universe. (Getty Images)". Photos. 2day Network. Retrieved 2 June 2011. 
  25. ^ Hill Cone, Deborah (12 April 2002). "Bendon Boss (hints his job might not last)". National Business Review. 
  26. ^ "Flirting with". New Zealand Herald. 12 May 2004. 
  27. ^ Zotos, Alex. "Pleasure State". Spring 2005. fashionwindows.com. Archived from the original on 11 September 2011. Retrieved 2 June 2011. 
  28. ^ "Kay Cohen". Fashion Designers. Fashion Model Directory. Retrieved 2 June 2011. 
  29. ^ a b c Safe, Georgina (18 April 2007). "Russians plunge on our lingerie". The Australian. Archived from the original on 10 October 2010. Retrieved 2 June 2011. 
  30. ^ Jackson, Dominique (7 May 2004). "Hectic party put style second". The Australian. 
  31. ^ Richards, Cidonie (16 June 2004). "Frill seekers (Spectrum)". Sydney Morning Herald. 
  32. ^ Hornett, Gemma (1 July 2005). "Pleasure State brings joy to the world". Ragtrader (ABIX abstracts). 
  33. ^ Holly Byrnes (16 October 2005). "Snake charmer's tearful launch". The Sun Herald. Retrieved 24 May 2011. 
  34. ^ "Pleasure State secures major accounts". Ragtrader (ABIX abstracts). 25 March 2005. 
  35. ^ Huntington, Patty (19 April 2005). "Fashion Police". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  36. ^ Harcourt, Tim. "Down Undies". Australian Trade Commission. Australian Government Australian Trade Commission. Retrieved 24 August 2011. 
  37. ^ Hoyer, Melissa (6 November 2005). "Style - Pleasure State on the map". Sunday Telegraph. 
  38. ^ a b Edwards, Anna (6 July 2006). "Underwear becomes outerwear in summer". The Courier-Mail. 
  39. ^ Mornecy, Dominique. "Pleasure State". Retailers. Pleasure State. Archived from the original on 9 June 2011. Retrieved 3 June 2011. 
  40. ^ Demasi, Laura (23 April 2008). "Top Line Living - Kay Cohen (04:30) Laura Demasi chats with lingerie entrepreneur Kay Cohen about her international success". Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 4 March 2011. Retrieved 2 June 2011. 
  41. ^ Weaver, Clair (9 April 2006). "Style". Sunday Telegraph. 
  42. ^ Barker, Lauren (15 August 2006). "SWEETdreams A state of pleasure". The Gold Coast Bulletin. 
  43. ^ Mitchell, Sue (16 June 2007). "A profitable niche in intimate apparel". Australian Financial Review (Abstracts). 
  44. ^ "Biofit". Victoriassecret.com. Retrieved 23 May 2011. [permanent dead link]
  45. ^ Skelly, Susan (8 November 2005). "Dog day afternoons; The latest in underwear, dog fashions and Champagne-speak". The Bulletin. 
  46. ^ HOYER, MELISSA (17 December 2006). Sunday Telegraph.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  47. ^ "Lifting the bar in bras". Eastern Courier Messenger. 4 July 2007. 
  48. ^ Enting, Carolyn (20 October 2010). "Style briefs". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 2 June 2011. 
  49. ^ Morency, Dominique. "Biofit Bra by Pleasure State" (PDF) (Press release). pleasure state. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 March 2012. Retrieved 3 June 2011. 
  50. ^ "Sophie Monk signing autographs for Biofit bra at Myer". News.com.au Galleries. News Limited. Archived from the original on 4 September 2012. Retrieved 2 June 2011. 
  51. ^ "Sophie Monk Catalina, Rose Bay Biofit:bra Launch". The Sun-Herald. Retrieved 2 June 2011 – via Push Up.com. 
  52. ^ McBeth, Paul (24 August 2011). "Bendon sold to Aussie firm". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 24 August 2011. 
  53. ^ Mitchell, Sue (24 August 2011). "Wavish to chair lingerie group". Australian Financial Review. Retrieved 24 August 2011. 
  54. ^ Cohen, Benjamin. "Current Projects - Kaycohen.com". Kay Cohen. Retrieved 24 August 2011. 
  55. ^ Babej, Marc. "Does Silent Assembly's new Bra technology spell the end of the underwire". Forbes.com. Retrieved 2013-10-21. 
  56. ^ Leverend, Anais. "Silent Assembly Launches in Paris". Fashionmag. Retrieved 2013-10-21. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Kay Cohen at Wikimedia Commons