Pic by AuContraire Photography.
Model: Jasmijn Siau.
Make up by Wiete Dankov.
Hair by Julia Lion Hair
For years, I have looked forward to seeing the entries for this competition and I am always very impressed by the results. I had not really imagined myself participating in this competition one day, mostly because of lack of self-confidence; however, this year, I found the theme particularly inspiring.
I feel I have been struggling with doubts for several months. It has almost been nine years since I opened my workshop dedicated to corsetry, and it feels like I have reached the end of my desires and ideas. This contest offered me the opportunity to re-connect with my own creativity and passion, without the restrictions often imposed by clients.
In order to remain true to my own visual identity and universe, I avoided looking at the images of actual creations on the theme; instead, I looked at insects. Something I was certain of from the beginning was not to use butterflies. Indeed, I think butterflies are stunning creatures, and may be some of the most beautiful insects to be used in fashion designs, but this is not what I was seeking.
I wanted something darker, almost less “beautiful”. What I imagined instead was the night, the light and shade, the play of light. The moths, hairy, inspired me a lot, as did the beetles, with their shiny shells, but it was the firefly that I chose in the end, precisely because of this paradox: a creature that flickers at night; which brings light in the darkness, joy into sadness... A creature which brought hope into my discouragement. I was therefore going to use light. Placed at the centre of the beast and at the centre of the body of my model, on the solar plexus. Although the firefly may not be “beautiful” in the classical sense of the term, is a fascinating creature. It has a first pair of wings/shell that hides another pair of transparent wings. This idea of transparencies with multiple textures really interested and inspired me.
The main technical challenge was to include light in the corset. Thankfully, I started this project at Christmas time, when lights are easy to come by. I found a garland with a mini battery that could be hidden easily under the corset. I drew a stylized firefly inspired by tattoos, which is one of my other passions.
As I also greatly admire the art of Alphonse Mucha, I tried to recreate the effect of stained glass windows by imagining the light passing through it. I built a firefly in fake leather (as a reminder of its wings/shell) and cut holes in the wings to place fabrics of different colours. Each hole is unique with a different texture. I superimposed several fabrics each time to get a gradient from gold to black. I placed my garland of lights in the body of the beast, under pieces of crystal. I then placed beads on all the black parts, in order to create more dimension and texture.
For the corset itself, I drew a bodysuit pattern and sewed a mock-up. During one of the fittings, I drew the lines of my design directly on the person to better understand the placements and proportions. I sewed an underbust-body in coutil, which I doubled and boned directly. I then placed it on a mannequin and moulded a stretch fake-leather over it in order to gain a very smooth effect. Furthermore, this process allowed to hide any visible seam on the corset.
When not being worn, the corset seems slightly unequal, as the stretch fabric pulls in all directions, but once on the person, everything tightens up and becomes smooth again. I then drew "hip wings" that I cut into horse hair. Between these and the sheer fabrics, I glued gold leaf in gradient.
Once all the pieces of the corset were assembled, I noticed the light on the firefly seemed to "extinguish" the rest of the corset, so I decided to add some light on the hips. Doing so created an unforeseen magical effect: it looks like fireflies are hidden under the hips, as a reminder of the fields full of them. Au Contraire Photography conducted the photoshoot.
The original design was meant to leave the breast uncovered, with antennae in fake leather to cover the nipples. Unfortunately, the antennae were lost during the photoshoot, and replaced by a bra, slightly modifying the design I had envisioned.
The pattern and drawings were elaborated in November, when I first thought to register into the competition. A period of re-work and doubts ensued, which pushed me to fight against my own uncertainties. Reaching a point where time was becoming of the essence allowed to focus my work and creativity on the task. The freedom encountered in the multiple stages of this project allowed me to reconnect to the source of the art of corsetry, and it has been a truly liberating and motivating process.
In the end, I hope my project will convey the complexity and magic of fireflies, and that you will enjoy encountering this creature through my creation, as much as I enjoyed designing it and bringing it to life.