Lizard Person Realness
Model: Threnody In Velvet
Photographer: Iberian Black Arts
Headdress: Hysteria Machine
This was initially inspired by lizards and reptiles – the fact they can shed their skin or regrow limbs is an aspect of renewal which really appeals to me. I was not going to enter this year, but I found the ridiculous faux leather a couple of months after the theme was announced and immediately knew it was perfect for this project.
Artistically I drew inspiration from the work of Puimond, The Blonds, and Mugler when I made this corset. I was also inspired in part by the fact my husband always jokes about me being a Lizard Person. It’s a silly meme, but I questioned what an awesome reptilian goddess would really look like and decided I wanted to make it a reality.
In July I suffered a housefire – this was a half-finished project which I was close to abandoning, but it was one of two corsets which made it out. After that, the project became a very personal representation of the renewal and rejuvenation I went through as both an artist and a human being. I slowly pieced things back together, and pushed through the challenges I was facing with the construction to create a corset I am extremely proud of.
In the end, this became a very cathartic project, and I will always see it as a symbol that I was able to get through something awful and grow from it rather than giving up.
I have been making corsets for 14 years now, and this was without a doubt the most frustrating project I have ever undertaken. I wanted to throw the entire thing away more than once, because this faux leather is truly a beast to work with.
The pattern is deceptively simple (it is actually adapted from the one I used in my competition entry last year – more renewal!) and in any other material I could have made this in my sleep.
I fused the faux leather to coutil, and treated it as a single layer piece. I wanted to do internal boning channels, but the leather was tearing at the seams as the stitching perforated it a bit too much. I covered the seams on the inside so they are neat, then added an external casing covered with the leather.
The bones are spiral on either side of the bust gore, and flat elsewhere. They are shaped at the hip to help with the shaping. They do extend to the tops and bottoms of the points.
The busk is inserted with a facing, and the stud side also has a modesty placket so that no skin shows or gets trapped when you put the corset on. The binding is made from 20mm wide strips of the leather which are folded over and sewn to the edges in sections as I like to sew extreme points like this so they stay crisp.
Faux leather, recylced busk, recycled flat (7mm) and spiral (6mm) steels, two piece 5mm metal eyelets, plain black coutil, Swarovski crystals in 3 sizes (shade Jet AB), emerald green with gold Solstiss lace, plastic boning for the hips (cheap stuff from a fabric store, not synthetic whalebone).
What was it like to compete this year? What would you say to someone who is on the fence about entering next year?
It reminded me what I really love about corsets - rather than making a lot of smaller things, I made a few spectacular things and it was extremely rewarding. I pushed myself into using a material I hated working with rather than 'rage quitting' because I knew it would be perfect for the competition and I wanted to prove I could do it.
Please, don't be scared about entering. I see this as a showcase of work rather than a competition. It does take a lot of courage at every stage from making your first tentative mood board, to making that first cut in the fabric, and finally pressing that "submit" button on the form. But when you see your work live on the launch day, you will feel indescribably proud of what you have achieved.