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Blake Pontchartrain: What’s the Bonnie-Frances Lingerie Company? 

Gambit’s N.O. It All on the history of the old building in Gentilly

click to enlarge The Bonnie-Frances Lingerie Company on Gentilly Boulevard closed in 1967.

Photo by Kandace Power Graves

The Bonnie-Frances Lingerie Company on Gentilly Boulevard closed in 1967.

Hey Blake,

I saw a big building with "Bonnie-Frances Lingerie Company" on the side. Was that a big manufacturing company here at one time?

Dear Reader,

  The building you noticed at 2005 Gentilly Blvd. near Paris Avenue has long outlived the Bonnie-Frances Lingerie Company, leaving only the sign outside as a hint of what once was headquartered there. The local company was active throughout the 1950s and '60s, producing children's underwear and sleepwear.

  One of the first references to the company in the pages of The Times-Picayune came in December 1951, when Maison Blanche proudly announced it was the first store to introduce Bonnie-Frances lingerie for local youngsters. An advertisement complete with Mr. Bingle touted: "First at MB, this exquisite lingerie manufactured right here in New Orleans — styled just like Mama's of nylon and rayon fabrics, beautifully trimmed with lace and nets — Bonnie-Frances features the buttonhole in waistline elastic which makes it easy for Mama to change." Among the products advertised were panties, slips and night gowns, all available in white or pink. Prices ranged from 69 cents for underwear to $10.98 for a nylon peignoir gown. The company also produced lingerie and pajamas for women.

  Over the years, the factory in Gentilly and a second one in Picayune, Mississippi employed designers, seamstresses and sewing machine operators. In the 1960s, the company also operated a factory outlet store at 2809 Caton St. The Bonnie-Frances company was involved in the community, sponsoring a New Orleans Recreation Department children's baseball team that won several city championships. In 1958, a young Pat Screen (the future Jesuit and LSU football star and later mayor of Baton Rouge) played on a championship Bonnie- Frances team.

  The Bonnie-Frances Company was dissolved and closed in 1967.

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