Model: Riah Fielding-Walters @_yousei
"and they do not speak
of how she pounded at the gates of hell until they opened
and how she let the pomegranate juice
drip from her smiling lips
and how even Hades
trembled under her gaze.”
- on Persephone
It was the changing of seasons that inspired my entry. Leaves falling and plants withering, this year’s growth giving way to the barren cold and paving the way for the world to be reborn in the spring. The idea that this year’s progress does not live forever, and that we need change in order to grow. And there was no character that could have better personified this duality than Persephone, Greek goddess of spring growth and queen of the underworld.
I wanted her to feel fierce, powerful, and in charge of her own destiny, and I wanted the design itself to tell Persephone’s story. Embellishment begins at the neckline with flowers and leaves, representing her life as goddess of spring growth. These gradually fade into pearls and beads to symbolize the pomegranate seeds she eats to stay in the underworld, ultimately becoming queen. The design then transitions to a brown skirt, which flares out and gradually turns back to a vibrant red, representing the cyclical nature of her role and the return of color to the world in the spring. A translucent mesh panel gives a glimpse of cleavage, and paired with the silhouette helps to give the outfit a dramatic edge.
The corset pattern is the first I created completely on my own, and has 7 panels per side. It’s made from a layer of silk dupion bonded to coutil, with a mesh insert at the front and modesty panel at the back. All the lace and fabric flowers are offcuts and scraps; the flowers are hand sewn and the peonies are dyed to repurpose petals from a previous corset. The hardware is new (I simply haven’t made enough corsets to repurpose boning), though I did use boning and eyelets from my stash.
The skirt is made from ribbed silk (from a warehouse which was closing years ago) and red and purple tulle (my only new fabric), which I airbrushed to blend it to the brown silk. There is a black stretch panel on either side, to mimic the mesh panel on the corset and give movement to the fitted design. The skirt has a tulle petticoat, made entirely from pre-cut strips that I rescued from being thrown away. Both the corset and lower part of the skirt are lined with stash fabric.
I tried to be especially conscious of my material choices for this project. I had to juggle it alongside unpredictable deadlines at work, so I gathered my materials slowly over the course of a few months. Ultimately I still had to buy a few things new when I started sewing, but overall I’m pleased with how much of the design was made from repurposed, scrap, and stash elements.
Red silk dupion, poly organza, and other red scraps – destashed by a fellow costumer
Thin black coutil – stash fabric
Black corsetry mesh and powernet– remnants
Organza flower petals – remnants from previous corset
Beads and pearls – stash
Lace – remnants from other projects
Brown ribbed silk – warehouse remnant (stash fabric)
Red and purple tulle – new
Viscose corset and skirt lining – stash fabric
7mm spiral and flat steel boning
Cotton twill boning tape
What was it like to compete this year? What would you say to someone who is on the fence about entering next year?
I find the Foundations Revealed Competition to be a great "reason" to make something beautiful and extravagant, simply because I want to. The competition, and the group as a whole, is a little corner of the world where you are encouraged to pursue your interests, experiment with new ideas, and are supported through the whole process. It's incredibly freeing to make something with the knowledge that a whole community will be there to back you up, whether you want friends to celebrate your victories with you, or need encouragement when things don't go to plan. If you're thinking about entering, you should absolutely do it. You'll never know the things you can accomplish until you try, and there's no better place to try than in a group like this.