The corset is back. And behind its revival is a celebrity designer who loves nothing more than getting laced up himself. Photographs by John Paul Pietrus. Styling by Sophia Neophitou.(Features)
The Independent (London, England); 11/24/2001; Forrest, Emma E.
Nipped-in waists, book-balancing straight backs and pneumatic busts – the corset is back in fashion, celebrating and accentuating the female form. As part of the current backlash against millennial minimalism, designers are enlisting the help of this most fundamental and spectacular piece of womenswear. At the heart of the revival is Brighton-based South African corsetier to the couturiers, Mr Pearl, who has been creating fantastical dresses of his own as well as building tightlace corsets for Thierry Mugler, Chloe, Jean Paul Gaultier, John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Christian Lacroix and Antonio Berardi, for over a decade.
It was Mr Pearl who laced Posh Spice into her wasp-waisted Vera Wang wedding dress, created Mugler’s more extreme and infamous metal biker corsets, and more recently tied Sophie Dahl into the ballet-shoe pink corset dress of Gaultier’s spring/summer 2001 collection. But Mr Pearl is no ordinary fashion designer: for the last 11 years, this discreet, dedicated man has been literally living his work. As a result of eating, sleeping and working in a corset 24 hours a day (apart from in the bath), he has trained his waist to a staggeringly tiny 18 inches and modified the way he breathes and speaks. The king corsetier is himself a sensational living demonstration of the power of this transformational garment, although he doesn’t seek publicity, and therefore there are no photographs of him on these pages. In the following interview, he reveals the secrets of his obsession.
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