Corsets & Mr Pearl

I’ve been asked a few questions about Mr Pearl and who he is. I wrote a blog post a while about Mr Pearl but I thought I’d quickly ‘freshen up’ the info as people wanted to know more about him as a person (he’s a curious man to make a huge understatement!). Mr Pearl is a professional corset maker born in Brazil with and English father and a Dutch mother. He moved to London but now resides in Paris so he has experienced a wealth of different cultures.

Mr Pearl’s real name is ‘Mark Pullin’ and he got his first taste of corsetry from his grandmother who he lived with from a young age. She used to let him help lace her up in her long line salmon pink corsets. Mr Pearl started corset training himself in his early 30′s and now has an 18 inch waist. This is the part I get most questions about – yes its real, no he’s not been photoshopped. He wears his corset 23/7 and gradually got smaller and smaller over several years. This is corset training people :)

Mr Pearl taken by Ali Mahdavi, 1999

But his looks aside theres one thing and one thing only that makes mr pearl infamous in the fashion world, and that is his corsets!

Mr Pearl works for some of the largest names in fashion, from new designers like McQueen to timeless names such as Jean Paul Gautier. You can immediately see why when you examine his work. Here is a classic example of his ‘poetry in fabric’ -

 

Dita Von Teese wearing one of Mr Pearl’s corsets. This one laces up from the crotch, up the back and through an attached hood.

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Bras in corset making!

So I’ve started making bra’s… ‘But what about corsets!’ I here you cry.

Well I haven’t moved on if that’s what your thinking, no I’m just tackling a different type of corset; the bra/corset combo. Not the merry widow style with the bra cups attached to the corset but the separate bra with matching underbust – the type Dita Von Teese wears. This gives a nicer line in my opinion and makes the best burlesque corset.

So here’s some progress pics of my first bra which gives me the opportunity to show you the corded panels from my last post in use.

I’ve sewn the cup panels together but not the edges so it all looks a bit scruffy at the mo. Rather than sew a normal seam which would have resulted in too much bulk (thanks to my insistence on cording the top panels!) I have ‘butted’ the fabrics up against each other and, using a strip of rigid sheer liner fabric behind, zigzag stitched them together. Then I straight stitched some pretty elastic over the top to hide the join. You can see the reinforced join in the picture of the inside.

I used a stretch Lycra for the bottom of the cups which I hand quilted using wadding and criss cross lines of straight stitch to create the diamond pattern. You can see one lot of lines in the last picture before I turned the material round and sewed across them.

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Dita in some of her many corset/bra combos

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Happy Birthday Bettie Page

Just a quick Happy Birthday to the late Bettie Page!

The voluptuous Queen of Pin-up would have been 88 years young today. Expect a special on her with lots of gorgeous photos at some point in the future!

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Mr Pearl – France – age 43 – 18 inch waist – 5ft 8in tall

Mr Pearl, corsetier to the stars

Mr Pearl, corsetier to the stars

 

 

“My work is not about being fashionable. I do not follow fashion at all. I’m interested in an ideal, a kind of expression of elegance, which really has nothing to do with fashion.”


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The infamous Mr Pearl has an 18-inch corseted waist and wears his corset 24 hours a day, 7 days a week except to bath. But his work as a ‘Corsetier’ or maker of corsets is what really skyrocketed him to fame and glory.

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Mr Pearl is arguably the most amazing Corsetier in existence, his works of art can take several months each to construct. He has made corsets for designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Thierry Mugler, John Galliano, Chloe, Alexander McQueen, Antonio Berardi and Christian Lacroix. And for famous ladies like Kylie Minogue, Dita Von Tease and Jerry Hall.

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“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.”

The Independent, 24th Nov 2001, Forrest, Emma E

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The infamous Mr Pearl is the alter ego of Mark Pullin, he started tightlacing at age 30, after seeing a photograph of Fakir Musafar:

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Fakir Musafar waist size 19inch nineteen inches 1959 and perfect gentleman

Fakir Musafar

Fakir Musafar’s artistic self-portraiture - ‘nineteen inches’ 1959 and ‘perfect gentleman’ also 1959

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Mark Pullin was born in South Africa, he was the eldest son of an English toolmaker, Neil, and a half-English, half-Dutch mother, Yvette. He has a brother , Grant, a motorcycle mechanic. His parents split up when he was three, when he moved in with his grandparents Hetty and Ruben Searle.

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“My grandmother wore corsets so I became fascinated by them,” he said. “They were always salmon-pink. She used to let me lace her up. It took a long time as there were lots of eyelets and laces, but it was a great treat.”

Mail on Sunday, 03 April 2005,  Collcutt, Deborah


Pressure to conform led to a 2 year marriage to a South African actress, after which he moved to London, creating his alter-ego Mr Pearl and setting up shop as a corsetier in 1994. He moved to Paris in 2002 where he now works in the romantic setting behind Notre Dame Cathedral, designing unique pieces for couture houses. He refuses to use any form of modern technology, and their are few photos of him or his work – outside of catwalk and fashion shoots that is.

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An exquisit example of Mr Pearl’s hand sewn sequined Corsets:

mr Pearl sequinned corset

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Mr Pearl’s Metal ‘Biker’ Corsets for Thierry Mugler, later worn by Beyonce:

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Beyonce Thierry Biker Corset

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The Sophie Dahl Gaultier dress spring/summer 2010 made by Mr Pearl:

Sophie Dahl Gaultier dress by mr pearl

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And Finally, Dita Von Tease in one of her personal Mr Pearl corsets, (and I think we all agree she’s a lucky lucky girl):

dita von tease in mr pearl corset


“Corsetry is the deepest, most intimate, most enhancing possibility physically and I’m fascinated by this. Corsetry presents endless, almost unobtainable, possibilities, it could always be tighter, more beautiful, longer in the front. The limit is physical – outward appearances are endless.” Mr Pe

Dita in Gaultier’s a/w 2010 catwalk

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Cathie Jung – American – 70+ age – 15 inch waist – 39-15-39 figure

Cathie Jung the ‘Queen of corsets’ holds the Guinness World Record for ‘the smallest waist on a living person’ and has done since 1999. Cathie is 5’6”, weighs 135 lbs and has a 39 – 15 – 39 figure. She’s also a grandmother, a pensioner and a wife. Cathie still does the house work, travels and goes swimming (in a specially made corset swimsuit of course). “I do everything that I want to do. I eat fairly small meals but I prefer that at my age anyway. I find it tricky sitting in low chairs and sometimes in restaurants I have to sit on the high chairs at the bar.”

To reach her breath taking 15 inch waist size Cathie has been wearing corsets 23/7 since 1983, that’s 25 years. She put on her first corset for her wedding day in 1959 and now has more than a hundred.

Cathie’s waist is about the same size as a jar of mayonnaise or the circumference of a CD but Cathie insists there is no negative health effect – in fact her husband, an orthopaedic surgeon, seconds this; “Bob has carried out X-rays on me and says the corset actually helps support my spine.”



Her waist has brought her the fame and glamour of TV interviews and invitations to various fashion events and parties. This sterling silver corset was custom made for her to wear to the Metropolitan Museum of Arts costume party for the opening of a Versace show.


Cathie’s most recent TV appearance was about 3 years ago when she appeared on ‘This Morning’ – click the picture above for the You Tube video.


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