Mary McGuinness, Kilkenny, Ireland
Model, make-up and hair: Nicole Kennedy @flarestar_nicole
I based my corset design on coral reefs and the contrast between a bleached reef to the vibrant colours and textures of renewal and regrowth. I used treebark pleating to show the skeletal lines of a dead reef. A layer of faded pleating emerges from underneath the main off-white reef structure and from this the diverse colours of regrowth appear in a smaller corset shape with a floating bust cup. I wanted to achieve the rigid structure of the different stages of a reef with the movement of the sea around it.
The asymmetrical design of this corset meant it required a different fitting on left and right side. On the right side the main body is fitted over the bust and on the left side it in an under-bust with a floating bust cup. The bust cup is held in place by the corset boning. It was a jigsaw puzzle and I only figured out the construction as I progressed through it. I had to re-cut the main parts as I originally used stiffer fabrics, but discovered I needed softer fabrics. It was the patterning that gave the shape to the main reef structure and the boning of the cotton underbody. I used a steel busk at the centre front and lacing at the centre back. The front and back openings are covered with a layer of faded pastel pleated silk georgette to emulate bleached coral.
I used fabrics I have had for 10 years and had them pleated. I also used remnants from various commissions over the years for the renewal and regrowth left side. For the finished look I used a skirt from 2009 to complete the reef aesthetic with a hint of the movement of the sea.
Treebark pleated silk georgette, silk satin, spiral steel boning, steel busk, lacing eyelets, cotton underbody
What was it like to compete this year? What would you say to someone who is on the fence about entering next year?
It's interesting to take on the challenge and expand one's abilities. To anyone on the fence, it's a great experience and fun to see other approaches to a theme.