Kim Kardashian had the help of three assistants to strap her into her specially made corset by legendary corsetier Mr Pearl, so she could slip into her tiny-waisted Mugler mini dress for the Met Gala in 2019. And with all the rage surrounding the Netflix Regency period drama Bridgerton earlier this year, it’s no surprise that the corset has made somewhat of a resurgence in the last few months.
This item of clothing had its fair share of controversies since its inception more than 500 years ago, before finally falling out of fashion when the women’s liberation movement started in the 1960s. It then made its way back into the fashion realm in the ’90s, thanks to Jean Paul Gaultier‘s iconic cone bra corset, designed for Madonna’s 1990 Blond Ambition Tour.
Fast forward to 2022 and the corset has evolved yet again, this time in a more unexpected fashion. Interestingly, the idea of the garment has progressed from its feminine trappings, as illustrated at Balmain and Dior. Balmain’s creative director Olivier Rousteing reconstructed the corset to resemble metallic body armour, paired with loose-fitting cargo trousers, or worn over a masculine shirt dress.
Even when the corset was worn over a beautiful lace and tulle ensemble at Dior, the motocross-inspired corsetry was far from conventional or sexy. Just like at Balmain, it was rendered to look more like a protective gear — an irony given the garment’s history.
Yesteryear corsets weren’t exactly “safe” for women to wear, as they perpetuated unrealistic expectations of beauty, and impaired muscle development as well as caused respiratory problems.
In fact, Kim Kardashian confessed that she “never felt pain like that in her life” after the Met Gala corset drama. So while the corset may have been revived, the reimagined Fall/Winter 2022 designs are meant to showcase a sense of empowerment and freedom — a far cry from what is symbolised centuries ago.