Trend Report: Corsets
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Corsets were once a symbol of female oppression, yet they have had a recurring role in the evolution of fashion through recent decades. A foundation garment way back in the 1500s, they became a mainstay of the 1950s ‘pin-up’ look, before Vivienne Westwood brought them back again for her punk-inspired collections in the 1970s. John Galliano’s early Dior catwalks featured them heavily, and who could forget Thierry Mugler’s golden rhinestone-covered corset modelled by Nadja Auermann? Or Jean Paul Gaultier’s cone-bust corset worn by Madonna during her ‘Blonde Ambition’ world tour? Needless to say, corsets have never become obsolete – although their recent comeback has seen women embrace this traditional piece in far more modern ways.
Corsets largely fell out of fashion around the early-to-mid 2000s, but their resurgence – specifically post-pandemic in late 2021 – has piqued the interest of several commentators. Many put it down to an overcorrection in the fashion world from the slouchy, comfy silhouettes so heavily relied on during lockdown, while others cite popular period dramas like Bridgerton and the rise of the ‘Regency-core’ trend.
Either way, corsets were everywhere in the AW22 collections – even at design houses that haven’t embraced them before. Caroline Herrera, Brandon Maxwell and Jason Wu were standouts, incorporating corsets into gowns and tops, while Versace weaved the look into tops, workwear and even outerwear. Meanwhile, Fendi used them to elevate leather and suiting pieces, Dior layered corsets over winter coats, and Balmain and Gucci went down a sportier route.
During the most recent Fashion Month, we were still seeing corsets and boning details all over the runway. For example, Nensi Dojaka – a brand that showed during London Fashion Week – presented a more sultry, feminine take on the trend, using sheer fabrics and dainty piping to write a new signature for the house. On the street, meanwhile, influencers layered corsets over coats and dresses to cinch and manipulate different body shapes, while others used them to elevate simple pieces like jeans or leather trousers.
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