As a designer, I have found the umbrella term of my design style to be rare. This Corset design specifically is encapsulated in all things unconformity. Growing up in a traditional religious black family my biggest dream was to sit with my female cousins and join their backyard tea party. I set the scene in a tea party because one day I want to be an example for all little boys like myself to feel comfortable doing what makes them happy rather than conform to gender norms. That is precisely the concept behind this design. Starting from the fabric I acquired from recycled Coogi Jeans of the 1990s urban hip-hop culture. Then to the choice of upcycling them into the form of a corset. The choice of the denim corset came from the traditional value that as a man I am to dress a certain way and “stop acting like a girl”. However, I found this design to be precisely the opposite of what I have been taught my entire life. The corset represents the complexity of me as a black man digging deep into my femininity, somewhat of a sexual awakening. Being brought up in the church being gay was the worst sin I could make, making it extremely difficult to embrace any part of myself that could be classified as feminine. During the construction process, I was able to come to terms with my sexuality. The corset made me embrace the beauty of being a gay black man in 2022. Despite all the roadblocks I may face the corset is a reminder that regardless of what society forces on me, my creativity and artistic expression will persist. It also is a foundational piece for all the work in my library of designs because my mission is to create a safe space for gender fluidity in fashion and costume design.
Elizabeth Park – west Hartford – CT
Design – Malachi Ward
Photographer – Joshua Sanchez