Fashion Intervention

Part I: Mr. Pearl

presented by HUMANIC, founding member of Fashion Society & Triumph International/SHAPE SENSATION


Transportation Partner: DB Schenker



Korsett Mr. Pearl (c) Albert Handler

Museums and collections are essential sources of inspiration for designers, not only in terms of paintings that deal with the clothes of the respective times but objects can serve as inspiration for color palettes and form finding.
In 2013 Mr. Pearl, the most famous corset and dress designer, will explain his affinity with historical pieces and their function as source of inspiration for his work by opposing selected exhibits from the collections of the Kunshistorischen Museum to pieces from big fashion houses for which Mr. Pearl has worked. In the context of the 12 festival for fashion & photography, he is discussing this topic in a conversation with fashion film pioneer Diane Pernet.

Where does your fascination for corsets come from? How did you start your profession?

My grandmother wore corsets on a daily basis, I grew up helping her with the lacing. This ritual must have planted a seed.


My interest in classical ballet, discipline and training helped me to understand more about the incredible capacity of the human body and how it can push limits for change – mind over matter.


Ballet bodices require to fit like a glove, they are also boned like corsets. In my spare time I assisted in a costume wardrobe where I observed that these tightly fitted bodices enhanced the natural form of the human body. I came to understand that the posture in ballet derives from the fact that dancers were corseted up until the end of the 19th century. I wanted to make such form-enhancing garments.


You have been collaborating with various haute couture labels such as Thierry Mugler, John Galliano or Christian Lacroix. Are corsets coming back into fashion?

I believe corsetry has its place beyond fashion, it exists in its own realm. There are the waves of fashion that demand changes from season to season, for example the tight silhouette. Yes, then of course corsets. The next season is all loose and away from the body. For me corsets are about enhancing the body and the human form is timeless.


You have already been visiting Vienna before and had a look at the corset´s collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum. What was that experience like for you? Did it inspire you in any way?

The Empress Elisabeth of Austria represents one of the highest points of what discipline and corsetry can achieve. Divine beauty. The Empress would represent the soul of the exhibition as she is one of my greatest inspirations.


You are not only world´s most famous corset maker, you are also wearing your corsets every day. Why?

Through dance I became aware of discipline. I think by wearing corset I am aware of what profound effect it has on the human body, this is used as a university of study. Therefore I can apply some of this knowledge when making corsets for clients.


Moreover, everyone is physically so different, it is always a challenge – what works for one body is not necessarily appropriate for another. I do wear my corset daily. My waist was 46 cm at the smallest, I have let it slip out these days to about 56 cm very lazy.





 Doors open






By invitation only

Museum für Völkerkunde, Hall of Columns
Neue Burg,
1010 Vienna