By  on January 25, 2008

PARIS — Of all Western garments, it may be the corset that best illustrates the old adage that one must suffer to be beautiful. But Mr. Pearl, the notoriously reclusive designer who has furnished corsets for many fashion houses and glamorous dames, including Christian Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier, Kylie Minogue and Dita Von Teese, doesn't see it that way.

Today, Pearl, 46, known for his own 18-inch waist, fields private orders from his thimble-sized atelier here in the shadow of Notre Dame. "The bells ring so hauntingly all the time," said the soft-spoken designer, settling into a chair for a rare interview in which he recounted his fascination with the silhouette-enhancing device.

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