So I thought i'd document it here. For the sake of authenticity, I have not edited the questions so I do apologise for the grammar in advance.
Q: When did you first start being interested in corsets and what made you interested in them?
About 10 years ago. I needed an outfit, wanted a corset, decided to make one. I bought a kit, and have been obsessed with them ever since. This is how most people get into corsetry.
|Sophia Loren in the 1960 film The Millionairess. |
This is the image that inspired me to make corsets
Q: Considering the evolution of the corset over the eras of strict Victorian, Hollywood Glamour, Burlesque, Pin Up, Goth, Fetish and even it's use in modern fashion by designers such as Vivienne Westwood and John Paul Gaultier, why do you think the corset has become popular again over the past year and so - but this time in a much more mainstream way? (Do you think it has anything to do with the current 'body ideal' of Kim Kardashian hourglass figures or maybe the modern mainstream interest in pin up, vintage and burlesque fashions?)
|An ancient Minoan Goddes statue from around 2000BC|
|A Victorian corset advert|
|Goth corset c.1980 Picture by Derek Ridgers|
Velda Lauder was also a pioneer for modern corsetry, she started her business in the early 90's from Kensington Market in London. The modern fashion for corsets as outerwear was underground in the clubbing scene for decades. Famous designers such as Gaultier, Mugler and McQueen to name but a few, plus many more talented artisans were veterens of this scene and through their connections, their infamy and their famous clients, merely bought this new way of wearing corsetry into the public eye but it was around long before they thought of it.
|Velda Lauder's 'Dita' Corset from the early 1990's.|
Velda, a veteran of the London clubbing scene herself, was an inspiration to many a new corsetiere including myself.
|Madonna in 1990 wearing her famous Jean Paul Gaultier corset which was made for her Blonde Ambition Tour|
Certainly current fashions for Pin-up and Vintage has helped corsetry into the mainstream where importers of cheap chinese corsetry are doing well. However the much easier accessiblity of corset making information through the internet has also created a boom within the crafting community and ensured a good flow of fresh artisan talent in the field of bespoke corsetry. (There is a separate post with those sources HERE.)
A good corset is always hand made. There are many things to look for in good corsetry and these depend upon the maker and the materials used. It's impossible to give a definitive list. However, it must be borne in mind that a dedicated corsetiere will make corset patterns for the modern figure - we are not the Victorians and our bodies are different - whereas mass manufactured corsetry will be made using standard patterns, with cheap materials. Most mass produced corsets cost as little as USD$5 each wholesale, wheras a proper handmade corset made with quality materials by a trained corsetiere will cost anywhere from £200 upwards - the materials alone will cost nearly £50. If you can buy a mass produced corset for $5. wholesale, imagine how much the workers who produced it are getting paid and how cheap the materials are? Mass produced corsetry is not only bad for the body but it is totally unethical. Steel and cotton are two of the most expensive commodities in the world today. Good corsetry is not something that can be created on the cheap.
|Corset wearing veteran Cathy Jung has the smallest waist in the world after waist training for some 30+ years|
She has had corsets made for her by many of the pioneers of modern corsetry including Dark Garden, and Bizarre Designs
Find a good corsetiere to help you.
5) How has the Oxford Conference of Corsetry gained in popularity since it's beginnings in 2013 and what can we expect from the 2015 event?
When OCOC started we had 25 delegates. OCOC15 has space for 70 delegates and most of the places were sold a week after going on sale. This year we have couture expert Ian Frazer Wallace of The Whitechapel Workhouse giving a workshop on integrated corsetry, other special guests are Barbara Pesendorfer of Royal Black Corsetry who will talk about 3d design, Autumn Adamme of Dark Garden, and Europe's top showgirl and burlesque performer, Immodesty Blaize.
|This is me and Autumn Adamme at the Oxford Conference of Corsetry last year.|
She is wearing one of her own bespoke Dark Garden gowns and we are standing under a portrait of one of her own inspirations, Queem Elizabeth I at Jesus College, Oxford
I have been teaching corsetry for the last 6 years. Oxford School of Corsetry is just a formal name I have put in place this year in order to expand my repetoire of classes (from beginners to advanced) it was necessary to make a dedicated website. I have students who come to me from all over the world including Hong Kong, Norway, France, Germany, Poland, America, Australia and all parts of the UK. It therefore seemed appropriate to make my classes into a 'school' because as far as I know, I am the only person in the world who offers such a wide curriculum of corsetry based lessons.
|Class of '14 - this lovely bunch came back to Sew Curvy 3 times last year!|
Pharmacist, Antique book collector, Engineer, Security expert, Social worker
The ladies who come to my classes are not all wanting to become corset makers. For the most part they are very clever women (teachers, engineers, accountants, scientists are very frequent!) who have a deep creativ streak and who need something more challenging than simple dressmaking to work on. Other students are historical re-enactors, tailors, professional costumers, fashion graduates, school leavers who want to do costume at college, ladies looking for a change in career and the odd burlesque performer who makes her own costumes. I've also taught men.
Are you a corset maker? What are your influences?