Mr. Pearl, Ethel Granger and Stella Tennant, what a waist…..

5 Aug

Showing a tiny, tiny waist hasn’t been a fashion topic for quiet some time now. Women are more into comfort and ability to move freely when it comes to fashion. The last couple of years A-lines and hipsters dominated the catwalk as well as straight lined clothes and even some oversized ones.  I am curious what will happen when fashion starts to embrace the hourglass figure again?

In the old days women were willing to wear very tight-laced corsets because it was in fashion, like the Empress of Austria, Elisabeth in Beieren (Sisi), who was famous for her tiny waist. In the seventies women fought for equality to men and part of the liberation of women was taking of their corsets and bra’s. Not wearing a bra didn’t turn out to be a great idea because of gravity and after a while women started wearing bra’s again, but out of their own free will and the way they are manufactured and designed has changed to comfort and great looking. The corset never came back as a necessary undergarment, but as a sexy outer garment.

For some people a tiny waist is an outing of total discipline or sexual excitement. Ethel Granger for instance got into corsets because her husband, William Granger, told her he liked her to. Although Ethel resisted at first, her husband persuaded her. Mark Pullen alias Mr. Pearl, got introduced to corsets by his grandmother, whom he happily laced up when he was a little boy. He said this ritual must have planted a seed.

Mr.Pearl, born in 1962 in South Africa, is the most amazing corsetier of this time. His corsets are made without any form of modern technology and it can take up to several months each to construct. He started wearing corsets himself when he was 30 years, after seeing pictures of Fakir Musafar. Mr. Pearl has a 46 cm corseted waist at the smallest, ‘I have let it slip out these days to about 56 cm, very lazy’. He wears his corset 24 hours a day, except when bathing.

Mr. Pearl moved to London in 1994, setting up shop as a corsetier. In 2002 he moved to Paris where he now works in the romantic setting behind the Notre Dame. He has made corsets for designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Thierry Mugler, John Galliano, Chloe, Alexander McQueen, Christian Lacroix and Vivienne Westwood. Dita Von Teece wears his corsets during her performances.

In an interview he explained: ‘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 boned like corsets. In my spare time I assisted in the 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 the dancers were corseted up until the end of the 19th century. I wanted to make such form enhancing garments’.


The story of Ethel Granger is a more difficult one. Although she did get to like wearing her corsets, she was pushed into it by her husband, who kept tightening her waist for his pleasure. Starting out with only having to wear the corsets during the day, after some years she went further to please him by wearing them 24/7.

His fetish went further by piercing Ethel himself and stretching the holes in her ears, nose and nipples to the max and making her wear heels as high, till she could just reach the floor with tip of her toes. He had corsets made smaller and smaller, till a waist size of 33 centimeters, which made her the woman with the smallest waist in history of mankind.

Ethel Granger’s story is about love for her husband without limits, sacrifice, suffering and devotion to beauty which led to deform herself. After some time she started to enjoy all the pain and suffering of the deformation and got pleasure out of pushing the boundaries of her body.

Beauty is to the eye of the beholder!


For Vogue Italia september 2011 photographer Steven Meisel shot a fashion story inspired by the look of Ethel Granger modelled by Stella Tennant.

16 Responses to “Mr. Pearl, Ethel Granger and Stella Tennant, what a waist…..”

  1. corva 22 August 2016 at 05:56 #

    that, methinks, is rather presumptuous, to state that after a time ms. granger came to enjoy the pain and deformation. the whole thing sounds abusive to me (but, nota bene, simply because she did NOT seem to partake with enthusiasm but was subjugated *against* her will.)

  2. Cyrus Corax 30 September 2016 at 10:04 #

    I cannot believe but that the photos of Stella have been manipulated, albeit very skilfully.

  3. Susan P Malone 9 July 2017 at 04:28 #

    Absolute perversion.

  4. patternbyfactory (@OdaO) 16 September 2017 at 02:18 #

    If the abuse of Ethel Granger by her husband, isn’t shocking enough, (it is a thing of the past, and should well stay there, forgotten in the shadows of time):
    But for a professional photographer to painstakingly make a fashion shoot of her misfortune, fresh exposing such a sick idea and disguise it as a ‘beautiful’ look, in seemingly gorgeous photos, is downright disgusting!!
    And even more so, for Italian Vogue to publish them!
    It’s almost unbelievable.. we’re actually talking 2011 here!


  1. Eight Unique Types of Fashion Designers Explained - 20 May 2015

    […] Artisan group, creating modern clothing with respect to the past. Angela Missoni, Paul Smith and Mr. Pearl are part of this […]

  2. Thierry Mugler, Multi Talent | - 7 June 2015

    […] More about Mr. Pearl: […]

  3. Editorial Review: Vogue Italia June 2015 by Mert & Marcus - 10 June 2015

    […] Mr. Pearl, Ethel Granger and Stella Tennant, what a waist….. by A.G. Nauta Couture […]

  4. Betty Brosmer, “the Most Gorgeous Body of 50s” | - 22 May 2016

    […] Mr. Pearl, Ethel Granger and Stella Tennant, what a waist….. […]

  5. 17 исторических фотографий, которые стоит увидеть каждому Источник: © — New News - 11 August 2017

    […] Британка Этель Грейнджер решилась на экстремальные изменения, чтобы угодить своему мужу Уильяму. Ей приходилось носить корсет, не снимая его на ночь, а также высокие каблуки и вычурный пирсинг, для чего муж собственноручно проколол нос Этель серебряной иглой. Со временем талия женщины уменьшилась с естественных 62 см до 33, что позволило ей попасть в Книгу рекордов Гиннесса. […]

  6. 17 σπάνιες ιστορικές φωτογραφίες που όλοι πρέπει να δουν - Τι λες τώρα; - 12 August 2017

    […] Βρετανίδα Ίθελ Γκρένγκερ αποφάσισε να αλλάξει ριζικά το σώμα της, για να […]

  7. 17 Historical Pictures Everyone Should See – highlight - 13 August 2017

    […] woman Ethel Granger decided to change extremely to please her husband, William. She had to wear corsets, not taking […]

  8. 16 történelmi fotó, amit minden szemnek látnia kell – EgybeMinden - 23 September 2017

    […] világ legkeskenyebb derekú nője, 1959. Egy brit nő, Ethel Granger úgy döntött, természetellenesen keskeny dereka lesz, hogy férje, William kedvében járjon. A […]

  9. 17 Historical Pictures Everyone Should See – 5 Fun Facts - 6 December 2017

    […] woman Ethel Granger decided to change extremely to please her husband, William. She had to wear corsets, not taking […]

  10. 16 történelmi fotó, amit minden szemnek látnia kell – latnodkell - 17 March 2018

    […] világ legkeskenyebb derekú nője, 1959. Egy brit nő, Ethel Granger úgy döntött, természetellenesen keskeny dereka lesz, hogy férje, William kedvében járjon. A […]

  11. » 17 Historical Pictures Showing the Past in a New Light - 28 April 2020

    […] woman Ethel Granger decided to change extremely to please her husband, William. She had to wear corsets, […]

  12. 17 Historical Images That Represent the Past in a Different Light - adobae - 26 October 2022

    […] woman with the narrowest waist in the photo is Ethel Granger, who is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. She made the decision to drastically alter […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: