Calliope is a modern interpretation/ remake of Atelier Sylphe’s REF K in black and white. I have always loved the beautiful hand-embroidered ribbon embellishment of the original REF K corset, and have often wondered what a corset would look like if done in a contrasting color, as opposed to the white-on-white of the original. This corset immediately came to mind when I was thinking about what to do for the 2016 competition. My thought was that if I used black thread and ribbon over the white fabric, the embellishment would look a bit like fishnet, which is always a little bit edgy, sexy and enticing.
Why remake an antique corset for a design competition? Well… sometimes it can be just as challenging, or even more challenging, to make a satisfactory and beautiful copy of an antique, as it is to create an intricate design of your own. I’ve long wanted to tackle this project, and I knew that if I could make this corset to my own (and my client’s) high standards, that I would learn a great deal. And isn’t that what Foundations Revealed is all about?
With this corset, I tried to keep the silhouette and embellishment as close to the original corset as possible. There are a few major differences. Mine is fully lined with a floating Japanese cotton/linen blend. This was to the customer’s request. I was hesitant to line it, as a nod to the original, but in the end, I absolutely love the lining of this corset. (See dress diary below for photos of the lining.) This corset is more of an over bust than the original, which is truly demi. This corset is flat-lined in silk satin in a champagne/ivory color; the original was just plain white coutil.
The minor differences between my corset and the original REF K are that the placement of the ribbons is slightly different. The original corset has the same number of ribbons as mine, but they are spaced differently due to the difference in measurements between the original corset and my client’s measurements. The type of lace used is a bit different than the original, and the width of ribbon used to thread the beading lace is a bit different.
I used two different kinds of lace as the top and bottom trim of the corset. One of the laces is a c1930’s Valenciennes Lace. The other is a Solstiss beading lace woven with one quarter inch black satin ribbon.
There are well over 40 hours of hand stitching to apply the ribbons to the corset. It is done using a stitch called point de chausson, which I had to teach myself specifically for this project.
All in all, I am really happy with this corset. I loved having it featured in a professional photo shoot, but also I can’t wait to see it on my client, who has been such an inspiration and a help throughout this entire process.