Mr. Pearl’s corsets have legendary shape in the world of fashion. As a corsetier (corsetmaker), Mr. Pearl practices an art and skill that was long thought to have died. The beauty of corsets have captivated him so much that he’s been wearing one since the age of 30, giving him a slender waistline of just 45.7 cm. His work is admired by the biggest names in fashion: Galliano, McQueen, Westwood, Lacroix, Mugler and Gaultier. The following is a rare interview with the man of the shadow.

Mr. Pearl
Mr. Pearl
Mr. Pearl
Mr. Pearl
Mr. Pearl
Mr. Pearl
Mr. Pearl
Mr. Pearl

Stéphane Le Duc : You work with so many great designers, but Thierry Mugler was really the first one that brought you into the world of fashion?

Mr. Pearl : I enjoy to work with all the people I have met; it’s interesting to capture what they dream of. I never imagined to work with fashion designers. It came as a surprise when Thierry Mugler asked me to make something for him in 1991.

S.L. : What did you like about Mugler ?

M.P. : His positive energy and very vivid imagination.He’s part of a fantasy world that is not necessarily fashion. He always asked me to design clothes that were not for everyday wear; they were more like show pieces, all embroidered, with shoes, hat — the whole thing. It was a great challenge for me. While it was very rigorous work, it was wonderful training and a great way to enter into the world of fashion. I always thought I would only work in the world of theater. Coming to Paris and working on such important pieces with open budgets and the most wonderful jewels, beads, Swarovski crystals, threads, feathers, furs; all these different luxuries to work with… it’s very inspiring.

S.L. : Jean-Paul Gaultier is very different. It must be very interesting to work with him.

M.P. : He is a very creative spirit, very lively with an incredible and clear energy. He brought the street style to a very elegant wearable space. He also dabbles with corsetry, which is obviously something I am very passionate about. To me its always been about the continuation of an ancestral beauty that should not be forgotten and therefore I try to keep it alive. Gaultier’s vision of corsetry was a treat and privilege for my work.

S.L. : Where does this fascination for the corset come from? You were not born in the 19th century…

M.P. : Unfortunately not. I was born a little too late… . It comes from seeing my grandmother wearing corsets. When I was three, I went to live with her and she always let me help her with her laces. I guess those memories always stuck in my subconscious. Later, I became extremely fascinated by old pictures detailing the elegance of the past. The use of corsetry is a very evident part of that elegance.

S.L. : Do you like the corset because it’s transforming the person?

M.P. : Yes, but also because it’s enhancing the body. It’s pushing the possibility of transformation a bit further. It’s a very empowering thing to transform what is there trough the use of fabric and lacing. It’s a fascinating contradiction. It has a certain power to it that some people are attracted to and others repulsed by. It’s a very controversial garment and also a very controversial practice according to most people. It’s seen as being slightly subversive and very provocative. But it’s not about suffering. Quite the opposite: through constriction there is freedom. It aligns you’re body, you’re spine and you’re mind as well. This alignment can be very reassuring. That’s why I wear it. If corsetry is correctly practiced and correctly fitted it’s very comforting. I’m just glad it found me and that I’ve contributed to the evolution of it.

— Stéphane Le Duc

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