Spirales d’or Bleu
Mary McGuinness, Ireland
My entry for Foundations Revealed corset competition 2019 is influenced by an anonymous image of the underneath of a spiral staircase in an abandoned French castle. I am very taken with the texture of the blue and gold peeling paint contrasted with the fragility of the spiralling filigree balustrade.
I see in my influencing image the passive and perpetual advance of nature as she resolutely strips and peels the layers of paint and decoration, revealing a greater dystopian beauty of distressed colour and texture. I am particularly taken with this image as it is the underside of the staircase and only on looking up does one become aware of the beauty. I find the aesthetic of decomposition beautiful as organic materials give way to the vanguard of retrospection.
My desire is to recreate the lost lustre and show the former opulence of this grand spiral staircase. However it is the dystopian beauty of the distressed state of the underneath that has caught my attention.
I am aiming for a visual balance of structure and distressed texture in my corset. Taking the theme of architecture literally, my aim in my project is to underpin the surface aesthetic with a strong foundation and build from support tensions.
So, not only do I want to heavily reference my chosen image, I also want to have an architectural approach as I build my corset. However, I don’t want the corset to look heavy and rigid, I want it to have a gentle spiralling flow.
For my corset the fabrics I used are blue raw silk, gold metallic dupion, off-white satin crepe and Italian gold metallic embroidered silk organza.
I have recently been experimenting with tensions and counter-tensions to achieve exaggerated shapes and with this corset I took it one step further. The front of the hip extensions are cut on the bias and as I sewed these seams I stretched them for maximum length. The bias cut boning channels were then sewn on with ease so that when the spiral boning was inserted under pressure, the boned edge would pop. This was to be the main focus as I wanted to represent spiralling steps of a stairs. To achieve the distressed look of peeling paint, I used a bias panel with satin stitched 4cm cuts. The satin stitched cuts are at 1cm row intervals and descending by 1cm increments. When pulled under pressure the cuts would distort and open to reveal the embroidered organza underneath. I used bias trim inserted into boning channels, cutting it at an angle to achieve the effect of aging and peeling.
This was all explorative and worked theoretically in my head. The challenge of a soft aesthetic built on a firm structure required a lot of patience. That was my main resource, patience.
The finished corset has a main body with hip extensions, an under skirt corset and a boned bustle to encourage the hip extension to pop at the back.
What was it like to compete this year? What would you say to someone who is on the fence about entering next year?
Now that I have submitted, it was amazing. I was daunted by the excellent work on view in past competitions by worldwide corset makers. I had a vision of what I wanted, but didn't think I would be able to realise it. The only thing that got me through was having patience with the work.
I would say to future competitors, do it. Don't think about it, trust yourself and your ability, everything is a learning curve. Take inspiration from past competitors and not fear.