Corsets — an iconic fashion piece that sits at the heart of so much controversy. What began as a fitted sleeveless bodice, (fun fact: it dates back to 1600 BCE), evolved into an undergarment made from steel, which encircled the ribs and compressed the natural shape of the waist. Their shape has changed over the years, forming distinctive silhouettes; however, discussions about its detriment to women’s health and their bodies began in the 19th century, when what was once a symbol of the aristocracy became common throughout much of society.

From the late Renaissance to the 20th century, corsets were regarded as a patriarchal instrument of torture, an instrument of women’s oppression; however, in recent history, this problematic garment has become one of female empowerment. In the late 1970’s Vivienne Westwood, otherwise known as the Queen of Punk, reinterpreted corsets to empower women rather than bind them. In the late 1980’s, designers like Jean Paul Gaultier and Thierry Mugler further revised the idea, paving the way for a new era in fashion corsetry.

Redefining corsetry

Fast forward to today, and corsets are making a comeback, again. Some may say, we’ve got Netflix’s Bridgerton to thank, others might say they never actually went out of style. According to Lyst, internet searches for corsets have increased by more than 100 percent over the past two years, with customers looking to bask in the nostalgia they inspire. Whether it’s Brigerton, or the resurgence of punk and new romanticism fashion, it looks like corsets are here to stay, for a while, at least.

Today, designers are redefining corsetry. Advances in technology and design innovation mean that corsets, or corset-like garments, are better than ever before. In recent fashion history we’ve seen corset tops worn as outerwear, rather than their traditional role as an undergarment. From Nafsika Skourti, to Azzi & Osta and Monot, here we discover three Arab brands that have mastered the art of corset-inspired garments.

Azzi & Osta

Azzi & Osta’s spin on an exposed corset bodice paired with a tailored suit is a feast for all eyes. The contradictory elements somehow blend perfectly, the look oozes style.

Nafsika Skourti

Nafsika Skourti’s iconic Royal Regina Top is a fan favorite. The design’s corseted bodice and long, puffed sleeves are cut from sheer, French tulle that brings a romantic flair to any outfit. It’s also the perfect transitional piece.

Mônot

Mônot’s corset-like, form-fitting silhouette, made from a sheer paneled design with architectural lines, is complimented with a romantic off-shoulder look; the wearer will stand out on any occasion.