Lyris Design Tree of Life from Carly Van Groeningen on Vimeo.
Tree of Life
Model: Miss Twisted
Photographer: Sol Santana Photography
Video: Lisa Paech
Video music: Matthew Pablo
My design was inspired by the Tree of Life, a concept found in the mythology of so many cultures across the world. It is a concept that speaks to me deeply, embodying the cycle and renewal of life, energy and the seasons.
To evoke this cyclical concept, I wanted my design to also grow, changing through the seasons like a real tree, but bedecked with a variety of types of leaves and flowers to represent the different Trees of Life throughout mythology. I wanted the colours to be vivid metallics and sparkling crystals to enhance the sense of magic and myth. To also bring in an element of sustainability, I used many materials from previous projects to construct this outfit. The leather is left over from my 2019 contest entry, the fabrics from previous commissions, and the thermoplastic from my large bag of scraps. The only materials bought for this outfit were more magnets, as I didn’t have enough.
To demonstrate the changing seasons and the cyclical renewal of life, I wanted to make a stop motion video for the first time ever, with the technical assistance of my photographer Sol and friend Lisa. The video is unfinished, as after 6 hours the model was too tired to keep going, so we stopped at autumn. The leaves were planned to fall, and we would finish with the bare branches of winter so it could be a looping video, but now we know how long it takes we will try again with more time and preparation next time!!!
I patterned the corset to fit my model, and we had one toile fitting. I chose a long-line corset dress to accentuate the length of the tree trunk. It is a single layer coutil corset, with a fashion layer of interfaced black silk dupion and a cotton floating lining. It has 13 panels, 7 solid steel bones and 18 spiral steel bones, and a boned, suspended modesty panel.
The corset was constructed by roll pinning the fashion layer to the coutil before sewing together the panels. The tree trunk and roots are metallic gold leather, appliqued once the panels are assembled. Internal coutil boning channels were basted and sewn from the right side, stopping and restarting wherever the stitching crossed the leather applique. The threads were pulled to the back and hand knotted, and the channels hand sewn where loose.
The corset was then boned, the floating cotton lining attached, and the edges bound with hand finished black silk.
The tree branches were constructed of an armature of wire and aluminium foil, coated in thermoplastic to make them as light as possible. The leaves and flowers were hand drawn, cut and sculpted out of scraps of thermoplastic, painted with metallic paints, and magnets were glued to the backs. Magnets were also glued to the branches, so the flowers and leaves could be attached and removed from the branches to create the effect of changing seasons. Nearly 600 flowers, buds and leaves were made, with 140 on the branches at any one time.
There are more details and progress photos on my blog.
Coutil, silk dupion, interfacing, cotton lining, solid and spiral steel bones, grommets, satin ribbon, leather, wire, thermoplastic, magnets, paints and crystal beads.
What was it like to compete this year? What would you say to someone who is on the fence about entering next year?
Lots of fun! It is a great excuse to challenge yourself and try something new.