Michaela Stark: The Designer Behind Sam Smith’s Body Morphing Corsets
London-based artist Michaela Stark uses handmade couture designs to reshape the human body and how we think about it. Corsets, skirts, and bloomers intricately envisioned by Stark sculpt the body by emphasizing its roundness and curves.
The designer herself is the model for many of her outfits and wears all garments listed in her online catalog. This began as a personal photography endeavor, which Stark picked up in 2019 upon learning camera basics, she tells Harper’s BAZAAR. Self-portraits have also become part of the way in which Stark expresses her work. Her Instagram page features photos of herself posing in tulle skirts and body-clenching corsets, with breasts and rolls of fat popping out as designed.
With a particular knack for couture, Stark states on her site that clothing is most beautiful when it “honors the body of [the] individual wearer.” Consultations are held in the designer’s studio in London, where Stark works with the client to determine the shape, fit, and design of the garment. Then, the creative team spends 6-8 weeks carefully crafting the design. Stark also offers international couture services.
A Cause For Controversy
Stark’s work is receiving increased exposure within the fashion industry. In a recent collaboration with Sam Smith for Perfect Magazine, the musician models several corsets tightly wrapped around their body. Comments on Instagram postings of the photos both praise and criticize designs. While some have taken offense to Stark’s dedication to malformation, others have recognized the designer for her positive influence on body image. Stark also worked closely with artists Shygirl and Beyonce — creating custom looks for her Disney+ film “Black is King.” In a 2021 collaboration with designer Jean Paul Gaultier, Stark transformed archival JPG looks into morphing body creations.
Corsets, skirts, bloomers, and bows available on the Michaela Stark site are made-to-order and shipped within 4 weeks after purchase. Prices range from $600 for a set of silk bloomers to $3,950 for a corset.
Featured image by: Zhong Lin