2nd Place

The Great Persephone



Mathilde Besse


(click images to to enlarge)

Other Credits

photo by Dany Tran/ MUA Keandana Creation

Outline the story …

The story:

My work is inspired by the story and the character of Persephone, daughter of Zeus and Demeter, the goddess of harvest and fertility. Persephone has been abducted by Hades, the god of the Underworld. The whole story is told in "The Homeric Hymn to Demeter", a long poem composed between 550 and 650 B.C. As she stayed in the Underworld, she ate a pomegranate and therefore she couldn’t return to the surface. Demeter was furious and let the crop die. Finally, Zeus decided that Persephone would spend six months with Hades in the Inferno and six months with Demeter on Olympus.

Persephone became the wife of Hades and Queen of the Underworld. During the six months that Persephone spent in the Underworld, Demeter was sad and these were the months of Autumn and Winter. Whenever Persephone went to Olympus, Demeter would be happy and the land would become fertile and fruitful. These were the months of Spring and Summer. This myth explains the change of the seasons, the eternal cycle of the Nature.

Outline the construction…

My interpretation:

I felt very inspired by this myth and the paintings of Gustav Klimt. I designed a 1920s style coat, with many embroideries. I wanted to show the duality of Persephone. All those little flowers and plants remind me of the six months of blooming. Her dark Queen side is revealed in the shape of the collar and pyramids embroideries. And finally, closer to her heart, the body-corset with the pomegranate embroidery.

The making:

Although I went to sewing school and I worked as a costume maker for years, I have taught myself corsetry and embroidery. I had to buy new materials, but I managed to use plenty of supplies I already had. Most of the fabrics, beads, fur and boning are remains of other sewing projects and gifts from friends. I never made a body-corset before. I spend hours on the internet, watching finished body-corsets and trying to understand how to make one. I worked on the pattern during the second French lockdown, dealing with the fitting on myself, without any external help. That was a huge challenge but I learned a lot. I experimented working with new materials for my embroidery. I even designed a 3D embroidery. It pushed my skills on a brand-new level. This competition clearly took me out of my comfort zone.




  1. Avatar Charlie Grilhé (Maison Charlie Grilhé) on March 11, 2021 at 6:41 pm

    An incredible creation. Those embroideries are simply amazingly beautiful. The shape of the body corset is PERFECT and… THAT COCOON COAT ? CAN WE TALK ABOUT THAT COCOON COAT ! I want to wear it to feel as powerful and beautiful as you. Congrats ! <3

    • Avatar Mathilde on March 12, 2021 at 7:32 am

      You’re the sweetest. You already know how I feel about your work, it’s stunning. I’m so happy we can share this passion about sewing and help each other.

  2. Avatar Amira B. on March 11, 2021 at 7:31 pm

    Your photo was the first one to catch my eye on the first page of Advanced level entries. The richness of the colours, the contrast in them, which actually represents the greek myth that it was inspired from very well! I don’t even know where to begin: the materials, the colours, the silhouette … This piece is an art piece! I’m inspired to keep working on myself to achive this kind of quality and beauty, and to try embroidery! Congratulations!

    • Avatar Mathilde on March 12, 2021 at 7:36 am

      Hi Amira,
      your message is so full of amazing compliments, I don’t know were to start. Got a pretty bad day yesterday and reading your comment felt so good. Today is a good day thanks to you.
      Yes, try embroidery! It’s better if you don’t have a cat though….mine likes to sit on my bead plate.

  3. Avatar Martina Girardi on March 11, 2021 at 8:32 pm

    The pomegranate makes me think to a human heart, which for me fits so well with the myth of Persephone. The embroidery work is so precious, the whole ensemble is just stunning.

    • Avatar Mathilde on March 12, 2021 at 7:39 am

      Hi Martina,
      it wasn’t made on purpose. But yeah, as I finally sew the pomegranate on the corset, I realised that there was a link with the shape of an heart. That’s the magic of creation. You never know how it ends.

  4. Avatar Franziska on March 11, 2021 at 9:06 pm

    THAT is an outfit for a goddess!

    • Avatar Mathilde on March 12, 2021 at 7:42 am

      Hi Franziska,
      thank you so much for your sweet compliment, so kind!

  5. Kitty Mortensen Kitty Mortensen on March 11, 2021 at 9:28 pm

    This is stunning! It was already gorgeous before the unrobing, but that bodysuit just pulled it from stunning to absolutely breathtaking. I love it SO much. and the styling! LOVE, love, love!

    • Avatar Mathilde on March 12, 2021 at 7:48 am

      Hi Kitty,
      thanks a lot for writting such an adorable comment. I really enjoyed workind on it, even it had some discouraging moments. So I’m trully happy if people enjoy watching it too.

  6. Avatar Theodore Allegrini on March 11, 2021 at 9:57 pm

    This is exquisite. Te embroidery and the beading are just wow

    • Avatar Mathilde on March 12, 2021 at 7:51 am

      Hi Theodore,
      thanks a lot for your comment. I really ejoyed mixing the different shape and colors of the beads. It was fun.

      • Avatar Rachel Gale on March 13, 2021 at 4:28 pm

        Your Persephone is powerful, beautiful and unique. Thank you for creating this work of art.

        • Avatar Mathilde on March 14, 2021 at 10:17 am

          Hi Rachel,
          thank you for your wonderful comment.

  7. Avatar Gabrielle Amey on March 12, 2021 at 3:05 am

    The whole look is stunning but the pomegranate on the corset blew my mind!

    • Avatar Mathilde on March 12, 2021 at 7:53 am

      Hi Gabrielle,
      thank you so much. Well I tryed something with that embroidery…and lucky me it came out great.

  8. Avatar Rebecca on March 12, 2021 at 3:31 am

    what a gorgeous homage to klimt, and to one of the most evocative of greek myths. this is really just stunning! so lush and sensuous, and richly textured. best of luck! (from icarus!)

    • Avatar Mathilde on March 12, 2021 at 11:42 am

      Hi Rebecca,
      I’m just lucky to have such nice comments about my work. Thank you so much.

  9. Avatar Ashley Taylor Anderson on March 12, 2021 at 3:52 am

    This outfit is giving me Schiaparelli vibes. So gorgeous!

    • Avatar Mathilde on March 12, 2021 at 11:44 am

      Hi Ashley,
      I dont know what kind of vibes your comment is giving me…I think it’s called ”purring cat vibes”.
      Thank a lot for your supportive words.

  10. Avatar Natalie Chim on March 12, 2021 at 6:00 am

    Amazing work especially since it was your first corset. I love the embroideries, especially the pomegranate and adore the coat. Well done on visually telling Persephone’s story.

    • Avatar Mathilde on March 12, 2021 at 11:51 am

      Hi Natalie,
      I did corset before. But this one is my firts bodysuit corset. And it was quite challenging.
      I’m so happy with your comment. Because sometimes I doubt and wonder if people get to see and understand what I’m triying to tell with my creation.
      Thank you so much

  11. Avatar Stef McKnight on March 12, 2021 at 7:30 am

    Everything is just perfectly coordinated!

    • Avatar Mathilde on March 12, 2021 at 11:52 am

      Hi Steph,
      thanks for the kind words, they sounded perfectly to my hears.

  12. Avatar Rowan Rubin on March 12, 2021 at 11:27 pm

    The fusion of this concept with this era/silhouette is nothing short of brilliant. It really does look like a designer garment, with all the intricate beadwork. Lovely, lovely work. Can’t stop looking at the details.

    • Avatar Mathilde on March 13, 2021 at 8:07 am

      Hi Rowan,
      your comment is so kind, thank you. I went through a moment of selfdoubt. Did it make sens to mix all this elements together? Or is it juste meaningless? Of cours my project was already at his halfway, when I started questionning myself….
      I’m happy that people like you tell me it was a good idea !

  13. Avatar Valarie Olafson on March 12, 2021 at 11:36 pm

    Oh my goodness!! The details on this are stunning.

    • Avatar Mathilde on March 13, 2021 at 7:13 am

      Hi Valarie,
      thanks you so much for your support. I’m so happy you like it.

  14. Avatar Amanda on March 13, 2021 at 1:20 am

    The pomegranate embroidery is insane!! This is so amazing! I seriously can’t get over how much I love this whole look.

    • Avatar Mathilde on March 13, 2021 at 8:08 am

      Hi Amanda,
      your words are so kind. Thank you. I’m happy you liked it.

  15. Avatar Carly Van Groeningen on March 13, 2021 at 10:27 am

    What a fantastic interpretation, absolutely stunning!

  16. Avatar Mathilde on March 14, 2021 at 6:07 am

    Hi Carly,
    thank you a lot for your encouragements, it’s so kind of you.

  17. Avatar Muireann on March 15, 2021 at 1:35 pm

    this is so beautiful! I’ve recently been doing a lot of research on Persephone (she seems to be taking up a lot of space in the cultural consciousness lately, or might just be me and my friends.) and it’s so wonderful to see this interpretation of her.

    • Avatar Mathilde on March 17, 2021 at 5:13 pm

      Hi Muireann,
      I think there’s many themes in Presephone’s story. For exemple a real loving bound between mother and daugter. That is rare in myth and old stories. Mostly you just found a jealous and mean step-mother.
      Or the thougth that death is not an ending but some kind of circle, something natural.

  18. Avatar Maeri Certo on March 16, 2021 at 5:01 pm

    Incredible job on all your detailing! I can definitely see your Klimt inspiration, and what a beautiful take on this character! It has been really fun seeing different versions of Persephone last year and this year. 🙂

    • Avatar Mathilde on March 17, 2021 at 5:15 pm

      Hi Maeri,
      yeah I’m so happy to see other version, visions of this theme. We all brought something different and personal. I like that.

  19. Avatar Katie Hernandez on March 17, 2021 at 5:59 pm

    Stunning! I love how the ensemble has the ability to evolve. The bead working and embroidery is amazing. I’m in love!

    • Avatar Mathilde on March 20, 2021 at 8:28 am

      Hi Katie,
      thank you so much for your comment. I wanted to create something that could be read like a book, with different ”pages/layers”.

  20. Avatar Maria Jones on March 17, 2021 at 11:14 pm

    Your embroidery is incredible

    • Avatar Mathilde on March 20, 2021 at 8:29 am

      Hi Maria,
      thank you so much. I’m glad you like it

  21. Avatar Peta Pendlebury on March 22, 2021 at 11:03 am

    I too love Klimt and I think he would have loved to have painted you. This image from a distance is breath-taking but then closer up it is even more so. The jewel colours just shine, the silhouette divine and ……… I’m lost for words.

    • Avatar Mathilde on March 23, 2021 at 6:20 pm

      Hi Peta,
      yeah Klimt is so inspiring. If I remember well, he ordered special fabrics with unique printings. He used thoses fabrics to dress his models. I like the idea that he has some kind of connections with textil.

  22. Avatar Kikkii von Fustian on March 27, 2021 at 12:00 am

    Klimt meet Poiret indeed, bang on!! Absolutely fantastic work, I’m swooning over that coat! <3 All the details are just perfection.

    • Avatar Mathilde on April 3, 2021 at 7:20 am

      Thanks a lot Kikkii. I went through lots of second thoughts concerning that Klimt-Poiret wedding. Was it, as we say in French ”le mariage de la carpe et du lapin”? Means ”the wedding of the carp and the rabbit”, when you put two things together that don’t match at all.
      Second thoughts are evil.

  23. Avatar Giorgio Ronchi on March 27, 2021 at 5:00 pm

    I agree with Kikkii, this dress is the wonderful child of Klimt and Poiret. And it’s a beauty. Kudos to you for the dress and the fabolous work of embroidery.

    • Avatar Mathilde on April 3, 2021 at 7:21 am

      Hi Giorgio,
      aaawwww, thank you for your sweet comment on my work.

  24. Avatar Becky C on March 29, 2021 at 10:05 pm

    Holy cricket the detail in this is astounding! Everything fits beautifully and I love the contrast of the fitted corset/bodysuit and the oversized coat. And the embroidery! Absolutely incredible.

    • Avatar Mathilde on April 3, 2021 at 7:13 am

      Hi Becky,
      I’m glad you like it. I’m really into your ”Holy cricket”. I hope I can use it in a conversation soon.
      It was quite a difficult choice to make. What outfit to wear under this coat. I had different options in my mind. And I finally choose the body-corset.

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