belle BRUT (translation:  beautiful raw; pronunciation: bel broot) was born out of a true love for fashion, and a personal art project based on the question, “What is fashionable, beautiful and/or acceptable, in the world of fashion?” More specifically,  I looked to my experiences, as a woman with curves, who loved fashion & lived in New York City, for the answer to that question. 

Using my love of writing and my favorite style of drawing, blind contour illustration, I began documenting my experiences where people called out my plus-size style. The first drawings were a series called, “FASHION OUTSIDER”, which I thought about making into a fashion 'zine. The illustrations were inspired by a Lanvin ad campaign, which mixed art and fashion, and featured an illustrated model against a red background, somewhat unrefined, but strikingly bold, beautiful and slightly out of place, amid the photography based campaigns of the season.  

The 'zine, never  came to fruition, however, it was like art therapy. I stopped buying things that screamed ”I really do belong" to the fashion set, and began shopping for what I truly wanted, loved, and expressed my true fashion self, no matter my size.  

While I continued to work in fashion & retail visual merchandising, I had less and less time to draw, but the desire never left.  In 2013, I left a position as Creative Director of Visual Merchandising at Victoria’s Secret. I started drawing ads and images of some of my favorite faces from the pages of V, Vogue, W and more.  The more I drew, the more my style developed, and I again loved the raw and imperfect image captured by my eye.  

The drawings made their way into a fashion blog & Instagram gallery, which became a visual mash-up of sketches, images and the faces, fashion, art and style which inspire them. I had an idea that the sketches might look good, as a printed piece, or on a tee, and belle BRUT was born... SKETCHES, SNAPS & STYLE 24/7.  

Monica Corbin, belle BRUT

Photo: Tiba Vieira