Throughout its long history, the corset has been regarded as predominantly restrictive. It is often been viewed as a symbol of archaic repression and a tool of the patriarchy, binding women’s waists – and actions - into what was considered socially acceptable from the 16th century onwards until it fell out of fashion during the Roaring Twenties.
The modern screen takes on this period in Marie Antoinette (2006), The Favourite (2018) and most recently, Bridgerton (2020-), maintaining the corset’s association with romanticism. This is done by using feminine - often pastel - colours and florals.
But if we look at more recent fashion history, we can see that corsets were later transformed into a garment of rebellion. During the 1970s and 80s, Vivienne Westwood reimagined the girdle by pairing them with her punk aesthetic, and corsets became riotous and empowering. Later, Madonna’s now-iconic Jean-Paul Gaultier cone bra from her 1990 Blonde Ambition tour would also help to redefine the corset. The corset hence transformed into something of a sexy and subversive 'underwear as outerwear' staple.
In 2022, corsets seem to be undergoing yet another overhaul. Modified to appear tougher and edgier, they maintain the rebellious spirit of punk culture but are taking on a sportier look. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Gucci x Adidas collection which was revealed at Milan Fashion Week for the Autumn/Winter 2022 season. The sportswear brand’s symbolic three stripes give the bright red corset a youthful feel while remaining true to Gucci’s chic aesthetic.
It is likely this duality of sportswear and chicness which makes the corset a favourite of the Hadid sisters, Hailey Bieber and Dua Lipa, with the latter posting a picture of herself wearing a black corset dress last month on her Instagram account.
Versace’s ready-to-wear collection for A/W 2022 also embraced the corset’s silhouette. Bella Hadid strutted down the catwalk in a head-to-toe red look made up of a corset dress, vinyl tights and platform heels. The collection, which boasted several brightly coloured pieces, also included a standout yellow dress, complete with a fitted corset-style bodice and a puffer coat with corset detailing. In this sense, modern streetwear is fused with the classic corset silhouette to create an off duty 'It Girl' must-have.
Balmain’s A/W 2022 collection also saw both male and female corset-style garments, some of which were in metallic and gold, alluding to armour. Dion Lee’s collection, meanwhile, featured a red leather corset reminiscent of Zoë Kravitz’s recent look as Catwoman in The Batman film – a sexy black leather corset and trouser combo.
The uniform of the effortlessly cool, it looks likely that the corset is here to stay. For her 27th birthday, Gigi Hadid recently wore a Dion Lee white lace corset with matching sheer trousers and a floor-length jacket.
To emulate the look, pair a corset with a monochrome pair of trousers and a boxy blazer. If you are brave enough, go for a bright pink, yellow or green alternative for a Donatella Versace-approved look. If this is the case, look no further than Urban Outfitters which currently has an array of candy-coloured satin and lace corsets available to buy online.
If you are going for a chicer look with a higher price point, try Miista. Their Gail corset – which comes in multiple colours - is ruffled to give it a somewhat regal feel while maintaining its modern and youthful aesthetic.
Are you a fan of the corset trend? Let us know in the comments.