My main focus for this corset was opulent embellishment with the inspiration of ‘touch’ from the Five Senses. I used a slightly modified version of the ‘Sanakor’ pattern as the starting point for this corset – this was the first piece I’d ever used another person’s pattern for, as well as my first experimentation with using lapped seams as bone channels. I used a fine weave grey coutil as the corset’s base, to lend some historical accuracy to this otherwise frivolous corset.
The embellishment is a deliberate clash of textures, eras and colours. Of the two laces used for appliqué, one is a handmade Victorian silk lace, cut from a mantilla, using the original pattern to dictate its near symmetrical placement. The other lace is an ivory contemporary Leavers lace from Sophie Hallette – of a much finer and delicate texture, with its soft eyelash finishing trimming the bust line. The obviously contrasting monochromatic colour palette makes these differences that much clearer. A contemporary Leavers lace in cotton is used to tie the bust closed, sourced from the last remaining English Leavers lace manufacturer.
Ethically sourced scraps of rabbit fur were appliquéd onto the high and low hips to add a softness and greater emphasis to the corset’s silhouette. Surrounding the areas of fur, Czech bicone crystal beads were tightly clustered to offer a harsh contrast in texture – ultra soft through to jagged and sharp. A mix of jet black and mirror finished crystals also offer a contrast in light, giving a dazzling and sharp sparkle as opposed to the fur’s silky soft reflections.
Swarovski flatback crystals in clear and jet are scattered throughout the corset, giving emphasis to the patterns of the lace. Large Swarovski crystals are also handsewn onto the ivory lace for added sparkle and a jagged surface texture, whilst potato and seed freshwater are scattered to offer a contrasting softness and smoothness in feel. The corset is finished with pale grey flossing on the back bones, with binding hand finished on the inside for a seamless exterior finish.
I learned a lot from this this piece – it was the first corset I’d created since graduating from university, and only the second such garment that hadn’t been created for a marked assignment. It was a personal challenge in using limited resources with very limited time (created to bring to the Oxford Conference of Corsetry in August 2014, after having previously decided that I simply didn’t have enough time to sew a corset in between finishing university and attending the event!). It was also the first time I hadn’t used my bra and knicker shapes as the starting point for the corset’s shaping, giving me new ideas for pattern cutting. Looking at the garment now, I can see a lot of areas that I could now improve on, but I can also see a lot of areas that were a great learning curve for my approach to corsetry.