Michelle Mone‘s autobiography, My Fight To The Top, offers a gossipy retelling of many of the Ultimo co-founder’s most well-publicized battles — a fact that caused some UK reviewers to complain that the book covers well-trod ground.
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But for those who haven’t followed every step and misstep in Mone’s journey since launching Ultimo in 1999, My Fight To The Top provides some revealing, and amusing, details about both the brand and its owner. Here are some we liked:
- Any fashion designer who doesn’t send unsolicited free samples to celebrities should think again. Ultimo famously got a huge boost when Julia Roberts wore its original cleavage-squishing bust-enhancing OMG bra in her Oscar-winning role as Erin Brokovich. Mone writes that before Ultimo reached the market she sent free samples to about 200 stylists, film production companies and random celebrities in the hope of getting some high-profile exposure. Ultimo went on to sell millions of OMG bras.
- To boost her courage before sitting for her first lingerie photo shoot in 2010, the then-39-year-old Mone drank almost a full bottle of wine. After the photos were released (and received enormous press attention), Mone says she received 17,000 letters of support from women around the world.
- She fired British model Katie Price five minutes into her first photo shoot for Ultimo because the Page 3 celebrity called one of Mone’s assistants a c**t.
- At a speaking engagement that featured several world leaders, Mone threw up on Mikhail Gorbachev backstage moments before going on and giving “the best speech of my life”.
- Mone and husband Michael were £480,000 in debt on the day Ultimo launched at Selfridges flagship store in London. With little money for marketing, Mone spent £500 to hire actors who dressed up as plastic surgeons and “protested” the bra launch outside, saying it would put them out of business. The event snarled traffic and, Mone writes, earned £52 million in free publicity.
- In its early years, Ultimo lost $1.3 million when Mone agree to advance cash and goods to a couple who bought the distribution rights to Ultimo in Canada. They were never seen again.
- When her marriage to Ultimo co-founder Michael ended in 2011, the couple continued to live separately in the same house for several months with their children. One morning, before Michael left for a rendezvous with his girlfriend, Mone spiked his coffee with laxatives.
- At a corporate dinner in 1996, Mone (then a sales rep for beer-maker Labatt) took off her uncomfortable bra and told husband Michael she was going to design something better. “What do you know about bras?” he sneered. “I’ve got a pair of tits — I’ll figure it out,” she replied.
- When she finally met her “dream man”, former U.S. president Bill Clinton, at a charity dinner, Mone excitedly told him how much she envied “Monica”. She meant to say “Hillary”.
- Which superstar celebrity did Mone have a poster of on her bedroom wall as a teenager? Business tycoon Richard Branson.