Written by: Abi Brown
Sam Bettencourt, a senior in fashion design at Lasell University takes creativity to the next level. After studying abroad in London at the London College of Fashion, they realized corsets were their calling. Banksy once construed that “art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.,” so one can only assume Bettencourt sees these pieces as a canvas. Their designs have elements of somber etched with beauty. They describe their style as,
“Deconstructed elegance. It’s appalling but I try my best to make it… alluring.” While close friend Jackson Powell describes it as “…high fashion meets grunge.”
One of their professors, Lynn Blake, said they remind her of “A young Alexander McQueen or John Galliano come to mind when I think of Sam… by way of being razor-focused and completely dedicated to messages they sought to express.” Bettencourt was taught by designer and fashion icon, Mr. Pearl, while studying in London. From this experience, they’re able to create pieces in such an artistic way that they should be labeled as art. The craftsmanship, time, and labor that goes into making their collections is what deems their work worthy of such status; and this is what makes Bettencourt stand out. How do you capture your own pain and relay it to something everyone can connect to, in an alluring light?
Bettencourt got their start in ‘corsetiering’ while studying abroad in London. It was in London where they met a couple of people who would later be labeled by Bettencourt as sources of inspiration and friendship. Under the wing of haute couture designer Mr Pearl, Bettencourt was exposed to the avant garde scene that is London. It gets its avant garde title because of its fashion scene that is inspired by the many designers that are from London, such as Alexander McQueen, another inspiration of Bettencourt’s.
*not an original photo
If you know about the works of Alexander McQueen, you may know of fashion icon Isabella Blow. She was known for bringing highly skilled and under acknowledged designers to the top, McQueen and Mr. Pearl being two. Mr. Pearl is known for his work collaborations. Often times couture designers call in specialists, like Mr. Pearl, to make specific pieces for their collections. He has worked with designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Thierry Mugler, John Galliano, Chloe, Alexander McQueen, Antonio Berardi and Christian Lacroix to name a few.
With the help of Mr. Pearl, Bettencourt near mastered their skill. A friend they met studying abroad, Brianna Serio said “Sam was always in the lab very late until the next morning, working very hard, on multiple pieces at once.”Bettencourt did not always want to do design, in fact when applying to schools they “applied to 26 schools for music theory, and one for fashion design which was Lasell. I got into Lasell but not my top music schools…” They love the small community at Lasell and find it a lot more fun than being at a bigger school in New York City.
For their final collection for the Senior Fashion Collection Show on May 2nd, Bettencourt is doing something personally healing for them. Recently in June of 2019, their grandmother, otherwise known as the “matriarch of the family” passed away. To pay tribute to their mother-figure, Bettencourt decided on their theme: Philosophy of the Threshold. They are focusing on two aspects of the threshold, “ the transformative threshold which is coming into contact with something that changes your perception of life so drastically that you become a different person afterward, it’s about what that journey is like.… And the second one, the pressure point threshold, which is basically the limit of ‘corsetry’ and what a body can take.” Bettencourt will present this with a garment that will test each model’s personal threshold by seeing how far they can cinch their bodies to “the height of their corset experience.”
After college, Bettencourt plans to either go back to London for graduate school, or take a teaching job at Lasell. The job was offered by professor and close friend, Lynn Blake. Bettencourt teaches a corset making workshop at Lasell, along with sewing construction courses, so they would continue teaching that curriculum.