Imperial Chrysanthemum by Carly Van Groeningen  Imperial Chrysanthemum by Carly Van Groeningen  

 Imperial Chrysanthemum by Carly Van Groeningen Imperial Chrysanthemum by Carly Van Groeningen

Imperial Chrysanthemum by Carly Van Groeningen  

Imperial Chrysanthemum by Carly Van Groeningen



Imperial Chrysanthemum

Carly Van Groeningen, Australia (Lyris Design)

IG: lyrisdesign

Photographer: Sol Santana Photography
Model and make up artist: Miss Twisted


The Design

This corset was inspired by Shinto shrines and palaces in Japan. I have a strong passion for Japanese styling, and lived in Japan for several years, so when the competition theme was announced I knew what my inspiration would be. I went through my photos from living there to pick out architectural details that sparked ideas for my design. My favourite elements were the elaborate wooden carvings of birds and animals that adorn the lintels of Shinto shrines, the overlapping roof tiling and wooden lattice support struts, the gold filigree metal work, and the palette of aged wood and black lacquer work.

The roof tiles are often finished with small circular tiles which bear the crest of the family associated with the shrine. The chrysanthemum is the crest of the imperial family, and the emperor is the head of the Shinto religion so I chose to use the chrysanthemum as a recurring symbol on my design.

To incorporate my inspirations into my corset, I elected to use very simple, elegant lines for the paneling of the corset, embellished with gold leather applique to parallel the gold metalwork. The hip fins echo the roof tiling and wooden tiered roof supports, and the bust piece reproduces one of my favourite lintel carvings. I was inspired to use a vintage black silk kimono I brought home from Japan for the fabric, using material from the sleeves for the corset and the embroidered lower section of the kimono for the skirt.


The Construction

The pattern was drafted to fit my model, with 17 panels to achieve a smooth silhouette. I made a toile and had several fittings. The silk was reinforced with interfacing and roll-pinned to coutil before sewing each panel to the next.

The appliques were hand cut from gold leather, mounted with spray adhesive, then painstakingly sewn by machine.

The boning channels were premade coutil channels, with a total of 23 bones.The channels were hand sewn wherever they intersected with appliqués. For the first time I tried prebent flat steels over the bust, to good effect. The corset has a cotton floating lining, and hand finished silk binding. I sculpted a foam and thermoplastic chrysanthemum crest for the centre front. There is a boned, suspended modesty panel.

The bust piece was sculpted from thermoplastic and foam with a heat gun, a butter knife, teaspoon and skewer, then painted to resemble a wooden carving.

My first attempt at hip fins failed, as the shaping wasn’t ideal and they were too heavy. The second attempt had better shaping, and were largely foam making them lighter. The lattice of support struts were glued and dremeled foam. The circular end tiles were 3D modeled and printed to have the chrysanthemum crest. The constructed hip fins were then primed and painted.

The plan to mount the fins and bust piece was to use neodymium magnets, but the ones I bought were too weak and the pieces easily fell off. I eventually resorted to velcro - not as pretty, but very secure!


What was it like to compete this year? What would you say to someone who is on the fence about entering next year?

It is a great opportunity to explore techniques and ideas you may not usually get to try, so jump in and give it a go!



The architectural elements of this are really superb - the whole thing is very beautifully made and it looks stunning. Congratulations !
OK I am so impressed with this thermosculpted detail, and the foam hip pieces too! The texture is so nice. How wonderful to have such history with a place and feel inspired right away! Great work!
I'm glad I can see a bigger version of the photos, so I ca see the texture of all your sculptural elements. This is a really stunning interpretation of your design and you completely nailed it!
I have a huge love for Japan, and this design has been carried out beautifully. I especially love the thermoplastic wood carving across the bust. Well done xx
kitty mortensen
All my yes! Those hip-roofs are to die for and your attention to detail is out of this world!
Dear Carly, I take my hat of for you. Not only did I grasp your inspiration from the pictures you shared of your process from the get go, but going for all those different materials and making them work so well together, blows my mind!
I have no words. The sculpture, the patterning, the perfectly stitched applique, I am completely in love. It's elegant and appears simple but exquisitely detailed - which completely sums up the original inspiration too. love the photos too, just amazing work overall x
I was already impressed when you showed the first pictures of the sculpted chest piece - the detail there is insane - and I was really excited to see the finished piece!

Congratulations for creating such a beautiful piece of wearable art! Your craftsmanship with all techniques you have used is superb and I also love the inspiration you have used and how you interpreted it.

The sculpting work is simply divine! It looks so opulent and effortless (although I'm sure in truth involved very much effort)!
Those sculptural piece is spectacular! Lots of techniques and textures are happening here, but the balance of the whole ensemble is flawless!
I know nothing about thermoplastic, so I'm fascinated that you carved those shapes with a butter knife. It looks so skilled. And you continue to showcase this with the intricate applique, snug fit and sculptural fins. All in all superb.
Wow! Beautiful shapes and innovative construction methods. Such a beautiful design! :) x
Oh...! Speechless!!! SOOOOOOOOOOO AMAZING!!!
The sculpted details are amazing. I am impressed with the craftmanship. The design is beautiful, well done!
Those hips are fabulous and the whole piece is fantastic.
There is so much that is beautiful, inspiring, and perfection in the entire piece! Those hip fins and supports are brilliant!!
marloes dadswell
This is inspired! It is such an amazing design and such perfect execution! I love all the different techniques and materials you have used and how you let them come together in such a stunning way!!!
It is gorgeous! I love that you used a personal inspiration and you incorporated it beautifully. Those roof tilings look so real but somehow this wooden like roof support... <3 They are quite hidden but so interesting, would love to see them a bit closer. And this chestpiece is a work of art, it looks amazing. You really made it look like carved wood. Such a beautiful, well executed and creative entrie! You can be so proud!
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