Madrid has lost a lot of its traditional old shops in the last few years, and now a real institution is having a closing down sale. The Corseteria La Latina (Calle Toledo 49) has been in business for 85 years, specialising in underwear for the larger lady. Well, the largest ladies of all really. When it comes to big pants, they don’t come any bigger than this. And then there’s the bras. In fact, the shop holds the Guinness World Record for selling the biggest bra ever – measuring 98 inches.
Inside, the shop looks as if it’s barely changed since it opened, with rows of little wooden drawers holding every conceivable permutation of undergarments. They do all sizes, not just enormous, and the sales staff are extremely knowledgeable, as you would imagine. Much loved by locals,there are always customers in there, but that’s not enough these days to maintain a business in downtown Madrid. Maybe if Dawn French lived in the Spanish capital, they would still be thriving. They had a great stock of vintage bras too, which we used to wear out clubbing back in the 80s.
During the Spanish civil war (1936-39), locals used to use their storeroom in the cellar as a shelter. If the walls are as sturdy as their corsets, they’d be safe from the most relentless bombing in there.