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Michelle Mone, born 1971, grew up in the East End of Glasgow, Scotland and, after an early career as a model, ran Labatt's Scottish sales and marketing team. After being made redundant and having her second child, in October 1996 she decided, while wearing a very uncomfortable cleavage enhancing brassiere at a dinner dance, that she could create a better design. Her stated aims were to create a brassiere that was both more comfortable, and better looking, creating more cleavage.
She founded MJM International Ltd in November 1996, and three years of research, design, and development resulted in the patented Ultimo bra. In August 1999, a month after having her third child, Mone launched Ultimo at Selfridges department store in London. Selfridges sold the pre-launch estimate of six weeks of stock within 24 hours, which as of 2009 was still cited by MJM as the biggest media launch of a bra in Great Britain, with over 50 photographers present and camera crews from all over the world.
In September 2003, MJM launched their third design, The Ultimo Miracle Body, a backless and front-less bra. In April 2004, the company launched a new lingerie brand with Asda, branded "Michelle for George", and in September 2006, launched "Adore Moi" for Debenhams.
In May 2007, MJM moved beyond lingerie, with the launch of the "Trim Secrets" diet pill.
MJM International signed a deal with Debenhams CEO Rob Templeman to open stand alone Ultimo stores within Debenhams. The first Ultimo shop opened in Glasgow's Debenhams Silverburn in October 2007. As of June 2008, there are twelve Ultimo stores across the UK and Ireland. In addition, MJM International currently supply Debenhams, Selfridges, House of Fraser, Next, Grattan, Littlewoods, Figleaves, and ASOS.com, along with a number of independent lingerie stores.
Penny Lancaster was the first Ultimo girl, replaced a year later by Rachel Hunter, and then Helena Christensen, who was later replaced by Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding. In April 2007, Rod Stewart claimed he felt insulted when Mone signed his daughter Kimberly Stewart as the face and body of Adore Moi for Debenhams.
In October 2007, Ultimo launched their new brand, the Ultimo D-G cup, modelled by former Hollyoaks actress Gemma Atkinson. Since 2011, Argentine actress and model Luisana Lopilato is the new Ultimo girl.
- "Michelle Mone, the Bra Queen". Daily Telegraph (London). 9 December 2007. Retrieved 16 March 2009.
- "Michelle Mone Press Information" (PDF). Retrieved 16 March 2009.
- "Official Website - About Us". Ultimodirect.com. Retrieved 16 March 2009.
- Newton, Victoria (9 May 2007). "Kim Knickers to you Dad". The Sun (London).
- Gemma Atkinson signed up to be Ultimo’s ‘angel’ | Showbiz Gossip, Showbiz News, Entertainment News - Showbiz Spy[dead link]