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Corsetry as an original foundation of ballet is often overlooked. Many of the ideals of carriage and motion hearken back to the original clothing worn for ballet, which was not like a modern bodice. Drawings and paintings of opera ballet costumes of the 18th century show full sets of stays underneath entire gowns with panniers. In the 19th century, with the rise of Romanticism, woman dancers were able to have more freedom of movement in their corsets and tutus sans full gowns.
In this piece for the Lilac Fairy, from the Russian ballet “The Sleeping Beauty”, I’ve paired the ideals of the 18th century with those of the 19th century, when the Romantic period saw a decrease in the full court costuming. The Sleeping Beauty was first performed in 1890, when one would have seen dancers in corsets and more soft, flowing skirts called romantic tutus. The Lilac Fairy is the fairy godmother of wisdom who foils the Wicked Fairy’s plan to for Aurora to die on her 16th birthday. Instead, the Lilac Fairy promises that if the curse ever materializes, then Aurora would instead fall into a deep sleep for a hundred years, awakening once she is found by a Prince of a faraway land, who shall give her true love’s kiss.
This pair of stays is the most complicated construction I have completed to date. It features removable front plackets in both striped fabric as well as green suede leather. The front overlapping closure then covers the lacing inside. This also makes the stays both front- and back-lacing, which makes it easier to put on oneself. The purple fabric damask was custom dyed for the project and pattern matched along the panels of the corset. The romantic tutu was constructed, with the help of Breanna Bayba, from many layers of tulle gradients from lilac to lavender, lightest on the inside to a reddish/purple on the outside, to coordinate with the pair of stays, based on Marion's great tutorial "Watercolor Effects With Tulle". I also made a baroque wig, which is featured in one of the images. Photoshoots on a body will be forthcoming on my blog, as my client was unavailable for a photoshoot in time for the deadline. I hope you can appreciate the details that went into this piece. Those who are attending the Oxford Conference of Corsetry in 2017 will get an in-depth behind-the-scenes on the making of this piece.